Home & Garden Retail: how to profit from the sector’s eCommerce boom

May 19, 2021

Global lockdowns, curfews, store closures; on paper, 2020 wasn’t cool. The way we shopped, spent our free time, even how we lived was completely reshaped and, quite frankly, made worse. Although actually, not everyone would agree. While many retailers dream of rewinding back the clock, a handful of industries actually benefited from the changes. One of which was the home & garden sector. Are you a home & garden retailer? Read on to find out how to play your cards right and boost your online sales this year!

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Home & Garden Retail: how to profit from the sector’s eCommerce boom

There’s no place like home

March 2020. The whole world was holding its breath looking to what would happen next. With lockdowns in place all across the globe, people have been forced to spend most of their time at home. The saying “Home, sweet home” has never been more true. Many consumers have been using this extra time to start home improvement projects, both indoors and outdoors.

Over the past year, real estate experts witnessed an exodus from big cities to escape urban living and experienced a surge in demand for properties with an outdoor space, whether it be a balcony, terrace, or garden. For home & garden retailers, these changes became a real opportunity to attract and acquire new customers.

A burgeoning green thumb

These lifestyle changes called for new hobbies, one of which being gardening. Looking to ease the stress of difficult quarantines, consumers started investing time in creating a nice and cozy outdoor space for themselves. This led to an unprecedented rise in outdoor furniture sales with an increase of 1908% in the UK, 956% in Germany, 428% in the US, and 303% in France for 2020. But that’s not all. In the United Kingdom alone, the most purchased gardening and outdoor products were outdoor plants (35%), compost (31%), and seeds (24%). All around the world, 2020 clearly became the year of the green thumb.

From offline to online commerce

As a home & garden retailer, it does not matter whether you sell furniture, decorative items, homeware, DIY, or garden products: you’ve had to respond to people’s insatiable desire to initiate home makeovers and transform their house or apartment into a cozy cocoon. But, with many stores having to close their doors multiple times last year, consumers were left with no choice but to shop online.

According to Google, the percentage of online purchases for home & garden in the UK went from 48% in 2019 to 67% in 2020. In an industry where seeing, touching, and testing a product is very important and a sales trigger, it was particularly reassuring and heart-warming for retailers to witness this radical shift to online commerce. At least for those who were well prepared.

Capture d’écran 2021-04-09 à 09.25.06

Online vs offline purchases year-on-year in the UK

What challenges did the pandemic bring?

Standing out when drowning in a sea of competition

The sudden shift to digital in the home & garden segment was an opportunity for retailers to capture new online audiences and increase sales. But, it also meant more competition. You probably had loyal customers who used to visit your brick-and-mortar store regularly but are now more likely to search for home & garden products on marketplaces and/or Google. This is where a thorough and well-thought-out omnichannel marketing strategy comes into play to gain visibility, trigger more clicks, and close sales.

Adapting your marketing strategy to the seasons

Spring has finally sprung. This means your (potential) customers are starting to spend more time outdoors to do some gardening, start backyard DIY projects or host a BBQ party. Are you prepared to ride the wave of seasonal shopping intent? Use your own data history to see which products were most-sold during spring and summer in the last couple years, boost your new spring collection, make use of a keyword tool to find out what the current trending search terms in the home & garden market are, and push these items on your website and online ads to increase your CTR and sales.

Utilizing the shopper’s senses in a digital context

Ever heard of sensory marketing? It is a “marketing strategy that seeks to awaken sensations and emotions in customers via all five senses.” In home & garden retail, engaging senses like sight and touch is essential and helps consumers make a final decision. Of course, touch is not replicable online, but you should make it a point of focus to engage your customers’ other senses to enhance their shopping experience and interest. Here, video marketing and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are your best bet to make up for the lost foot traffic.

With every challenge, there is a solution! In order to help your home & garden business stand out and beat the competition, we’ve laid out six best practices you should implement in your marketing strategy right now!

6 proven ways to optimize your eCommerce conversion funnel

To help you fuel your business growth this year, we’ve listed six marketing tactics to implement from a buyer’s journey perspective.

Blog Headers   Home and Garden H&G FunnelImage

Awareness phase

1. Promote your products on multiple advertising channels
As explained earlier, your customers are now a lot more likely to look for home & garden products directly on Google and online marketplaces, where your competitors may already be advertising. Bottom line: you need to be there advertising too! Successful home & garden retailers promote their catalog through search and Shopping campaigns for Google, advertise on marketplaces and create social media product ads. All of these are extremely popular online channels which will enable you to benefit from a huge amount of traffic and eventually reach a much wider audience to raise awareness about your brand and products.

From inspiration to conversion, Channable helps us ensure our campaigns have the right message and optimized assets for each channel.

Eli Ivens, Online Advertising Marketer at Intracto, agency managing Casa Shops' account.

2. Step up your social media game
Become a social media guru! Just like in the fashion sector, aesthetics is key when it comes to displaying your home & garden products. Since the pandemic hit, a lot of people have decided to undertake home improvement projects. And, unless they’re professionals themselves, they surely look for ideas and inspiration online. Instagram and Pinterest are great social media platforms to position yourself as an inspirational brand and are often used to create profitable influencer marketing campaigns. Both are filled with home decor accounts and pictures, so make sure you show your items in the most Instagrammable way possible. ‘Home Tours’, especially from well-known influencers, are also very popular on Youtube.

Last year, Google witnessed a notable increase in people searching for terms like ‘ideas’ and ‘DIY’ in the home & garden category. With spring finally here, the figures shown in the graph below should definitely repeat, which is reason enough for you to optimize your social media presence.

Capture d’écran 2021-04-09 à 09.31.57

Worldwide interest in “ideas” and “DIY” search terms on Google in the Home & Garden category in 2020

Consideration phase

3. Offer a seamless user experience on your site
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So now is the time to woo your first-time website visitors! There are countless ways to do that: make your website easy to navigate; use appealing pictures; write clear and detailed product descriptions; highlight your customer reviews; give information about your delivery and return policy; offer world class customer service; etc.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget about the users who have already visited your website before. Offer them a personalized and seasonal experience through artificial intelligence, and make sure to adapt your content to their shopping behavior by showing them items they are more likely to purchase.

4. Strengthen your omni-channel retail strategy
There will always be consumers who would rather buy home & garden items offline. But, it’s not about choosing between online and offline. It’s about bridging the gap between them and combining physical stores and online shops to offer a consistent experience to customers across different touchpoints.

The pandemic has shed new light on the importance of specific services. It is the case of Click & Collect, which has become essential for contactless retail and is a good solution for consumers inclined to shop online but who would rather pick up their order in-store to avoid any potential issues with sometimes quite unreliable couriers. If, on the contrary, you’re looking to attract more customers to your physical shops, consider allocating some of your marketing budget to Local Inventory Ads to increase web-to-store traffic.

Conversion phase

5. Optimize your checkout process
Checkouts are where most of your dropouts exist in your sales funnel. Thus, offering a simple, transparent and fast checkout process is key. Keep in mind that extra costs are the number one reason why shoppers abandon their cart. With an average basket size likely to be higher in home & garden retail than in other sectors, you really do not want to disappoint your customers with hidden fees!

Offer a guest checkout procedure (no one likes to have to create an account); use a checkout progress bar; prevent shipping cost surprises; display cart contents plainly; use autocomplete to speed up the process; etc. While all these tricks contribute to optimizing your checkout process and reducing cart abandonment, you should still implement a strategy to win back shoppers.

6. Make use of email marketing to re-engage cart abandoners
Did you know that the global average cart abandonment rate across all devices is 75.6%? A very high number, you’d think. Until you find out that this rate is ten percentage points higher on mobile. A sign that a lot of websites are not mobile-optimized enough, among a multitude of other reasons.

An efficient way to re-engage cart abandoners is to make use of email marketing. In fact, 48% of emails on cart abandonment are opened, which is a good chance for you to win back some customers looking to pamper their home and garden! Set up an automated email series to notify them immediately that they left items in their cart, and show them these items with a clear call-to-action to return to your site and complete the process. You can also decide to incentivize them with a temporary discount to trigger a sale.

Want to boost your online presence significantly this year and make sure all of your products find a new home on time? Get in touch with us to find out how Channable can help you take your marketing to the next level!

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Amelia MesliMarketing France

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