Consumer shopping habits will have changed radically by 2022. The Dutch gardening sector is in a state of flux as it prepares for this new consumer. The expert panel Future Garden (R)etail of the research platform ShoppingTomorrow predicts that the migration from high street to online will accelerate and that social influencers will loom ever larger. Collecting customer data will be crucial, and there are great strides to be made with personalization. In conclusion, the panel recommends the sector build a customer portal.
Consumers who want to buy gardening products on the internet currently have two options: a generic platform very likely lacking in knowledge and inspiration, or a niche player. What is lacking is a specialized platform that meets all the gardening needs of the modern consumer. This vision inspired a business case for a gardening retail platform – the Future Garden Portal.
The expert panel considered how this platform could be set up and implemented. Relevant data such as the surface area of a garden, hours of sunshine, family composition, income and the time of year must feature on the site, enabling it to offer the consumer the right solution at all times. Rich customer data and seamless co-operation of everyone in the sector are also paramount.
The platform should be both inspirational and informative. Brands, sellers, garden architects and other experts are linked to offer the consumer a complete picture, with conversion via the platform or webshop as the ultimate goal.
The panel is adamant that the consumer of 2022 will demand more than inspiration and information – they want the platform to be a real one-stop shop with personalized offers, tailor-made advice and ready-made solutions for each particular consumer. For example, the platform would offer advice on when you need to prune which particular plants, and what tools you would need to do this. The consumers can then buy the material himself, or hire a gardener to do this for him once, or negotiate a yearly contract. Every consumer makes his or her own choice.
The panel of experts regards the gardening shop as an attraction: a space for experience, story-telling and interaction. Shops are becoming experience centres where customers find inspiration and can test the products they like. Technology is at the heart of this. On entering the site, customers are recognized automatically, so that they can be offered relevant advice. There is ample opportunity to try out the products, or to participate in a steady stream activities or events. Even events that are not strictly to do with gardening – street food events, styling workshops or sustainability events – can still be relevant.
A trip to the ‘real’ shops is often seen as a (family) day out, so hospitality has become a core activity, and an important part of the business model. Physical shops can contribute meaningfully to the post-purchase phase. With the knowledge of who has bought what, a business can maintain contact with the customer with personalized tips and advice – and use this contact for up and cross-selling.
Do you want to find out more about the findings of Future Garden (R)etail, download its blue paper 'Digital innovation within the gardening sector' (Dutch).
The article appeared on thuiswinkel.org.