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Bridging The Gap
Coronavirus: Garden centres switch to virtual personal shopping
  Friday 03 April, 2020
Coronavirus: Garden centres switch to virtual personal shopping

Garden centres and nurseries are offering online personal shopping services to reduce wastage.

Companies have been livestreaming videos of their centres and FaceTiming and emailing customers to offer advice and guidance on orders during lockdown.

The industry has warned millions of plants, shrubs and trees could be thrown out in the coming weeks.

Some 2,000 garden centres and nurseries have been shut down at what is usually their busiest time of year.

Independent traders have said that adapting business to online orders, delivery and collection is enabling them to keep up with the high demand while respecting social-distancing measures.

Now, garden suppliers are following suit.

Chessington Garden Centre has been using Facebook’s live-streaming video to showcase products available, offering deliveries from orders made on their website.

It offers a walkthrough of the centre and produce, while staff reply to questions customers have left in the comments.

“We are doing everything we can to adhere to [government] guidelines and keep people at home,” the video begins. “However... what we do want to do is encourage you out into your gardens or outdoor space.”

'Doing what we can'

Many of these businesses did not have a large online presence before and have struggled to set up websites in a short time.

“We don’t have an online shop or the time and money to set one up,” Jorge Rodriguez-Martin, manager of The Palace Gardener, in London, says. "We’ve had to lay off staff, and business has been devastated by closing our garden centre, so we are doing what we can to serve our loyal customers.”

The remaining three staff at the centre - who do not use public transport to travel to work - focus on keeping the plants alive and offering detailed advice and recommendations over emails or calls.

“It’s peak time, so people have been sending us photos of their gardens, asking what plants they should buy, and we’ve been sending photos of our stock back,” Jorge adds.

“Lots of people are ordering children’s gardening tools, looking for something to keep families busy.

“And because lots of people in London don’t have gardens, they’re ordering house plants to lush up their living rooms.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52153475

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