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Gavin horticultural supply co. is the latest retailer to announce its customers will have to provide their bank details for the very first time when placing an order online with the company.
Customers of both horticultural supply shops Gavin’s Nurseries in Kidderminster and Catchy’s Garden in Birmingham will find the change difficult to resist. The supplier of plants, compost and soil management software is hoping to reduce the cost of its doorstep courier service to zero by the end of the year.
“The main thing is that we can always give a better customer service if we know more about you,” said Gavin’s managing director. “Our new ordering system is about all the small details of customer order flow, but also about how you shop with us – it’s all about the customer experience.”
Customers of both horticultural supply shops Gavin’s Nurseries in Kidderminster and Catchy’s Garden in Birmingham will find the change difficult to resist.
Gavin’s has seen a 26% increase in website visits since going digital in May. It would have sold even more had it not been for the Covid-19 lockdown and some locations have been unable to reopen until now.
But Gavin’s managing director Isobel Joyce says this has provided a real opportunity to introduce more customer benefits. A new box for herbs will be added to online orders, for example, which will help customers with cooking and provide advice on which ones they should buy.
“All of our warehouse people know customers personally,” says Joyce, who has been running the business since 2012. “I was one of the few kids who had a mum at work when I was growing up. There’s nothing I love more than seeing people get their hands dirty, so we are always aware of the need for customer service.”
She adds that all the changes have been easy to implement as the company had been using an automated data supplier in this area for many years. “But some customers were getting fed up paying extra money for what they had been used to,” Joyce says.
“We can give people a better, faster service with all the information they are giving us, so we are going to see a shift in the type of customers we get. If we continue to make progress, we will see the benefit of the change and the new customer that we have developed.”
Catchy’s director Warren Catchpole is planning to go the same route. “You can’t sell the things we sell without telling people who we are,” he says. “You need a really high level of security. We’ve had a relationship with an online banking provider for over 10 years, so the setup is in place.”
Catchy’s is offering loyalty cards for both payment by card and cash, says Catchpole, and aims to get new cards in post within 24 hours of the order being placed.
“We ve been using an unglamorous name for years, Catchy’s Garden Centre, which will help us build an image of an old-school garden centre that customers can be proud of,” he says.
“I think we have always strived to be customer-centred. The fact that we are offering refunds on holidays if customers can’t get to us doesn t mean we aren’t thinking of their needs.
“We are aiming to make sure customers feel valued. If we have to collect their bank details from them, so be it, but this is what they want.”
Catchy’s was trading online since 2003, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made things much more difficult, says the director, who started off working for another garden centre and moved into the world of horticulture in 2007.
“It’s a nice situation that we have now. Even if we didn’t sell as many plants as we normally would, we could keep at it and do it in our own time and in our own way,” he adds.
“People should get excited about the opportunities we have.