Interview With Joanne Harris – Guildford Garden Centre

The Guildford Garden Centre website was developed by OM4 in 2013. It uses WordPress and WooCommerce with E-Path payments, with Table Rate Shipping used to support complex shipping rules ranging from gift cards to large outdoor furniture items.

The business has a 100% web based marketing plan and in 2015 reported the #1 revenue per customer of all members of Garden Centres Association of Australia (Inc).

The Guildford Garden Centre was operating a static web site for many years, but it was not a major part of the business. After upgrading the website to WordPress and WooCommerce in 2013, Guildford Garden Centre noted a significant improvement in sales and moved to having the #1 revenue per customer of all members of Garden Centres Association of Australia (Inc).

Joanne Harris has run Guildford Garden Centre for twenty years. With an old website that was no longer that relevant to the business, she approached the idea of redeveloping her website with modest expectations – perhaps it could offer gift vouchers people might order over the phone …

Joanne’s initial vision for the website refresh didn’t involve selling products online. It didn’t seem possible – Joanne felt she didn’t have the infrastructure needed, as some of the products she sold were tiny (seeds, gift vouchers), while some of the products required two people and a truck to deliver.

After reviewing Joanne’s product line and looking at the capabilities of WooCommerce, Joanne agreed to try an eCommerce approach. The goals for the new website were to bring more customers through the doors of the physical store and to sell products online. The team Joanne chose to work with was The Brains Trust (for branding and design) and OM4 (for online strategy and development).

The Process

Design. The first stage of the project involved a number of design concepts from The Brains Trust. Once a concept was agreed on, it was refined based on Joanne’s feedback until the final design was approved.

Implementation Planning: OM4 and Joanne held a number of planning sessions to discuss the WooCommerce implementation. A range of payment gateways were reviewed, and Joanne selected e-PATH. The product range and shipping policies were discussed, and an approach developed to allow the product range to be offered using Table Rate Shipping – this approach allowed for different rates to be offered to visitors in real time, based on their postcode and the shipping class of the product.

Implementation: OM4 developed the website, implementing the design from The Brains Trust, migrating page content from the old website, and loading a representative set of categories and products. Some education sessions followed to show the Guildford Garden Centre team how to load products, and they then finished the load of the remaining categories and products. A Campaign Monitor email newsletter was deployed, with previous subscribers loaded and a new custom template developed.

Go Live: after the site was tested, reviewed and approved, it was deployed using the production domain. Steps were taken to preserve existing search engine rankings, while opening up the site to be more search engine friendly and commence the process of generating improved search rankings.

After implementing the new website, Joanne reported a number of positive outcomes:

  • Stock turnover increased
  • The number of customers walking through the door increased
  • Sales increased, with some product lines spiking by up to as much as 107%
  • Revenue per customer increased, with average revenue per customer topping the charts for the Garden Centres Association of Australia

For Joanne, the benefits were clear and the website now underpins all of the marketing for the Guildford Garden Centre. Newspaper advertisements have been cancelled. A new customer group is in evidence in the store – a younger market with money to spend. And telephone calls from customers often revolve around the website – according to Joanne, 30-40% of calls start with the phrase “I have your website in front of me.”

Feedback from Joanne

How hard was it to learn to use your new site?
I find WordPress really easy. As I taught the newer girls coming on, and had to translate it to them, that I realised that I really do understand it.

What was it like working with OM4?
They listen, and they hear you. That’s important to me. OM4 took a lot of time to get the freight right because we freight everything from a packet of seeds to a $2,000 great big eight seater table and everything in between.

The spoke to me in my own terms and took the time to teach me how things work.

Would you recommend working with OM4?
Absolutely. OM4 can do it. They have all sorts of clients. If you look on their site you see all the different types from jewellers to fishing people to nursery people. All sorts. I think that’s important.

OM4 has a passion for the marketing side of things and taking it further than just saying – “here’s your website – see you later”. They follow up, they really follow up!