Hybrid shopping: 5 ways your garden center could benefit

Added May 2, 2023

Garden centers have always been a go-to destination for green thumbs seeking to spruce up their outdoor spaces. But with the pandemic-driven surge in online shopping and a rise in ecommerce sales, garden centers have had to adapt to new consumer preferences to compete in the changing retail landscape. One solution that’s emerged for horticultural businesses is the concept of hybrid shopping.

What exactly is hybrid shopping?

Hybrid shopping, also referred to as hybrid retail or hybrid buying, mixes traditional brick and mortar retail with ecommerce. It's designed to empower your customers with the opportunity to engage with your business in their preferred method—when it's convenient for them.

A hybrid buying model can help you improve customer satisfaction, build loyalty, and give your garden center a competitive advantage. In a February 2022 survey from Momentive, hybrid shopping emerged as a favored consumer trend garden center owners should take note of. Here are some key statistics:

  • 50 percent of adults prefer to shop both online and in-store

  • Two in three adults pick up purchases at the store after starting the transaction online

  • Nine in 10 adults want flexible pickup options to continue post-pandemic

  • Most consumers prefer to coordinate in-person pickup via text

Through a hybrid buying journey, customers can browse your products online, place their orders through your website or app, and have the products delivered to their homes or your store for pickup. Alternatively, they can visit your garden center to view your products firsthand, ask questions about what they're seeing, and make purchases in person.

5 benefits of a hybrid shopping experience

Most consumers now engage in a hybrid approach at some point in their buying experiences. According to the Consumers want it all report, a 2022 study from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), today’s consumers no longer see online and offline shopping as distinct experiences.

A hybrid shopping strategy for your garden center can be beneficial to your bottom line—and an expectation of your customers. Here are five reasons to integrate hybrid shopping into your sales plan:

1. Increased convenience for your customers

Shopping convenience is a priority with today’s consumers. A survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted that 97 percent of consumers reported backing out of a purchase that was inconvenient for them. Fortunately, one of the main benefits of hybrid shopping is convenience.

Providing the option to select from a range of purchase experiences can save a sale. Allow your customers to:

  • Buy online and pickup in-store (BOPIS)

  • Order online for home delivery

  • Browse in-store, purchase online

  • Buy in-store

Gardeners' inspirations often require immediate satisfaction—especially in spring when they're reimagining their outdoor spaces. If one of your ads or promotions sparks a customer's interest, rather than rush to your garden center in heavy traffic to get that particular flat of flowers or fertilizer that just went on sale, they can purchase it online. This guarantees they got what they wanted without stressing about physically getting to your store before it's gone.

2. More product options

Your ecommerce website can feature a more extensive range of plants, tools, and other products for sale than may be available in-store due to space limitations.

Imagine the amount of in-store product selections shoppers miss because they're hidden from view by shopping carts or other customers. Online, shoppers have access to a greater selection of products and add-on products making it more likely they'll find even more than they were initially looking for.

3. Lower labor needs

There’s still a lingering labor shortage occurring nationwide. When your customers begin placing more orders online, it could help ease your in-store staffing issues, such as managing long lines at the checkout. Placing QR codes on your product signs can also drive those customer questions to your online descriptions, creating an empowering self-help environment.

4. Enhanced customer experiences

Your physical store has a large role in an omnichannel customer experience. Although your garden center may already be an attraction within your community, you can take it even further. For example:

  • Create live-stream social selling events with store or greenhouse tours

  • Have guided online shopping experiences featuring new arrivals

  • Hold pop-up planting workshops customers can engage in from your website

  • Promote unique subscription offerings

During your busy season, when your customers are shopping everywhere and anywhere to get their favorite flowers, it's important to make sure the experience you create is just as much an attraction as your inventory is.

5. Expanded market reach

Online ordering and your presence on social media channels can help your garden center reach new markets beyond your local area. Billions of people use social media platforms daily, including scanning Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram for inspiration on new creations—and planning purchases for those creations.

If you offer fast shipping, it won't matter where your customers are located, they can still shop with you. You could even gain increased foot traffic and sales from out-of-town shoppers, as well as repeat customers inspired by your online presence.

Protect your garden center with cyber liability insurance

If you’re digitizing your presence or increasing your digital footprint, don't overlook the importance of carrying appropriate insurance coverage for cyber liability.

When you offer hybrid shopping, customers provide you with sensitive information, such as their names, addresses, and payment details. This is data that cyber thieves want, and it can make you vulnerable to a cyberattack. Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect businesses from the financial losses associated with cyberattacks and data breaches.

It covers you for losses from:

  • Data breaches

  • Business interruption in the aftermath of an attack or breach

  • Cyber extortion

  • Network security liability

  • Crisis management

Help protect your business in the event of a breach or hack. Work with an insurance brand that specializes in the horticultural industry—like Hortica®, a brand of the Sentry Insurance Group. We give you the benefit of our expertise, providing knowledgeable guidance through the claims process.

Learn more about why our specialized insurance could be the right solution for your garden center. Request a quoteemail us, or give us a call at 800-541-5082 to speak with one of our representatives.

Related links:

Do you have proper insurance for your garden center? Review this insurance guide for garden centers to help you determine if your business is adequately insured.

Do you take a proactive approach to theft prevention at your greenhouse or garden center? We’ve compiled some tactics to help you safeguard your business from a break-in or theft.

Is your greenhouse tech-enabled? Robotics, automation, and smart technology are popular additions to horticultural businesses. Find out how these tools can benefit you.

One person shopping in-store and another person shopping online

The information in this article is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our disclaimer by going to terms and conditions and clicking on Learning Center disclaimer in the table of contents.