Top 10 Features of a Garden Center/Landscape Supply Ecommerce Site

Landscape supply and nursery/garden center ecommerce sites are unique and contain certain features specific to the uniform and scrub industry.  Below are ten design considerations that are important to consider when launching or managing a garden store ecommerce site:

  1. Fast Performance – The nursery buying experience relies heavily on images of the plants, flowers, trees and shrubs.  So, it’s critical to balance between providing compelling visual images without slowing download times by using large uncompressed high-resolution images.  Slow page load speeds can hurt you in several ways.  First the customer experience will be impacted if the user must wait several seconds for images to load on their browser – or if images are not crisp.  In addition, the Google search ranking algorithm will punish your site for slow download speeds on your site.  Be sure to select the correct image sizes and compress your files.

  2. Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Design – Mobile shopping now accounts for about 50% of all online transactions.  It’s critical that your nursery ecommerce sites work well on all different screen sizes (full size screens, tablets, smartphones).  The good news is that most modern ecommerce themes and frameworks for platforms such as WooCommerce are responsive so that the presentation of the design elements adjust for the screen size.  But be sure to pick a platform and theme that provides the most user-friendly and responsive experience possible.

  3. Integration with POS/Inventory Management System – Most online vendors also operate at least one physical store.  As a result, its critical to have some sort of sync or integration with your store management system.  This will keep inventory levels in synch between store locations to minimize the sale of items not in stock or unavailable from the vendor.  The best nursery POS systems also capture the order information and customer data from online sales in the POS system.  This helps with marketing and inventory management.

  4. Delivery Management – Manu landscape and lawncare contractors want to purchase items online for either store pick-up or delivery to their job site. So, make sure that your ecommerce platform offers handling options for these B2B customers.  The good news is that there are many plugins available to help with the fulfilment of items purchased. For example, Shipstation has plugins compatible with many popular ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, Magento, Prestashop and Shopify.

  5. Service Department – Many nursery and landscape supply stores offer related services and repairs in-store.  Often this is not incorporated into their online sites because of limitations of their selected ecommerce platform. As a result, these garden and landscape supply retailers miss out on the sale of services available in-store. Be sure to research what customizations options are available with your ecommerce platform. 
  6. Microsites or Private Stores – Many garden and landscape retailers are more interested in using their ecommerce site to provide a better experience to existing customers than to sell to the global market of online shippers.  These nursery retailers often create private ‘microsites’ that curated for the specific requirements of the customer and accessible only to the employees of the customer.  For example, a school or office complex may have a microsite that only displays the landscape products approved by the school district and is password protected for used only by approved employees.  Be sure that your ecommerce platform can support microsites.  For example, a multi-store configuration of WooCommerce can support the offering of microsites for different customers.

  7. Product Reviews – User-submitted product reviews are increasingly used by online shoppers in their purchase decisions. Studies show that 90%+ of shoppers read the reviews before they buy a product.  Online shoppers like to see a mix of positive and negative reviews, as uniformly positive reviews can be viewed as curated or fakes.  This is a common feature available on all popular ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, but be sure to include customer reviews in your design.

  8. Alternative Payment Options – Traditionally, websites accepted debit/credit cards and online wallets such as PayPal and Amazon Pay for purchases.  This has expanded to include other online digital payment methods, and in some cases bitcoin.  Nursery ecommerce sites may also need to include other forms of payments specific to the garden and landscape supply industry.  For example, landscape contractors may want to allow their employees to pay by charging to a credit account.  These payments methods may require custom programing to enable on popular ecommerce platforms.

  9. Multiple Shipping Methods – Online shoppers are not the same.  Some may need an item right away, while other are willing to wait additional days or weeks for a lower cost or a special product.  Be sure to include multiple shipping vendors and options on your site.  It’s also standard to include the tracking number in emailed receipts – and even online status updates following the purchase.  There are many plugins that offer these types of options.  For example, Shipstation is an extremely popular shipping management plugin for the WooCommerce shopping platform.

  10. FAQ Section – Online shoppers are frequently seeking answers to their questions outside of your standard store hours or have the same types of questions that are asked in-store during face-to-face purchases, but not generally available when purchasing online. An online FAQ section is a simple way to provide answers to frequently asked questions and other helpful information.  This will reduce calls and emails to your store and give your site more credibility.

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