How a California Home Gardening Store Adapted to the Pandemic with Ecommerce

Published July 29, 2020

With instability one week and quiet routine the next, nothing has been as constant throughout 2020 as change. It’s an inevitable part of life—but it’s how the change is managed that makes all the difference. So, when something like COVID-19 hits and consumer priorities shift on a dime, businesses must be ready to shift their own priorities to match.

But we’ve all heard that these are “unprecedented times.” So if change is constant, but businesses can’t ever know what kind to expect, how can they react to what they don’t know is coming?

If you’re Roger’s Gardens, an iconic, family-owned home, garden and landscape design center in California, the answer is: quickly, with technology.

For over 50 years, Roger’s Gardens has been one of the primary suppliers of home gardening and home food production plants and products to the public. So, when grocery shopping as we know it became a concern for most people, a renewed enthusiasm for a more self-sustaining lifestyle grew (literally) alongside it with consumers looking to grow their own food at home.

Like other businesses deemed “essential” by the California State Government, the home center’s first priority in their business continuity plan was—and still is—the safety of their customers and staff. Following the guidance of issued best practices, they first closed their interior selling spaces and buildings to implement strong safety measures (think: plastic barriers, regular deep-cleans, masks, gloves), but also to give employees the opportunity to opt out of coming to work without repercussion.

With a skeleton crew left in place to water the plants, they had to figure out their next task: how to keep employees and customers safe and comfortable while shopping. They immediately moved to a self-service model with almost zero physical interaction on the floor. And with the help of their existing POS system, they speedily adjusted their business model to include contactless, drive-up shopping.

Thanks to a loyalty program with almost 100,000 email connections, they were able to easily communicate to their customers all the ways they could access Roger’s Gardens products. The reaction was swift and curbside pick-up took off.

Another advantage they had was something that had already been part of their business model for the last 15 years: ecommerce. But unlike previous years, customers didn’t seem to shop for the decorative gardening items that were usually popular in the spring and summer seasons. Instead, they shifted almost instantly to buying food-producing plants and food-related products—in fact, Roger's Gardens experienced a never-before-seen volume of online orders (10 times the average amount) for those products.

While these food-related items continued to surge, others did not. To help them identify patterns, stock what shoppers wanted and manage demand, they used their NCR Counterpoint store technology to quickly add enhancements to significantly improve the integration between their physical store and their ecommerce platform.

Now, all from within their POS and inventory software, their merchandise managers could instantly adjust the ecommerce price for different items, change the item names and descriptions displayed and create a more seamless online shopping experience for the customer. What’s more, they were able to easily add a new enhancement that connected the item on their shopping page to their live store inventory.

These integrations allowed items to dynamically and systematically appear, disappear or be shown as “temporarily out of stock,” based on an inventory threshold for that item and their on-hand inventory. It’s something the Roger’s Gardens team said is critical for inventory management when ecommerce and retail stores are sharing the same products.

In-store, the continual adaptation and fast deployment of technologies, such as contactless payment at the counter, are giving customers a greater sense of safety and security. In fact, from day one of the pandemic, they eliminated all forms of payment besides card transactions, and they continue to use contactless in their stores and at their registers with next to zero pushback.

Their staff stands behind transparent shields and keeps a safe distance between customers throughout their checkout process, so at the point of sale, customers simply insert their card or use tap-and-pay and get an instant emailed receipt using NCR Counterpoint’s full functionality.

Using store technology that’s flexible and adaptable, they were able to create a truly multi-channel experience where every order channel flows into the same store system, while quickly adopting contactless payments (curbside pickup, phone orders) and other enhancements.

For Roger’s Gardens, it’s all part of delivering the best possible service to customers no matter what’s happening in the market. They believe that being flexible to accommodate ever-changing consumer demands, quickly adapting to market conditions and—in a belief that’s growing in importance across industries—sharing the customer’s social and environmental values are all essential to the sustained success of retail sales in the future.

That's why, when you walk into Roger’s Gardens, shop online or place an order for curbside pickup, the experience will be simple, interactive and shaped by customers’ needs, whatever they may look like.

 

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