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From The Archives: Sowing the seeds of success for home and garden retailers October 2016

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Dan Burnham, head of customer success, Volo Commerce

A large number of retailers are still hesitant about selling home and garden products online. The challenge often lies in the size of the merchandise and the nature of the products. However, this sector represents 8% of the total online sales registered in the UK and studies show the market is on the rise.

So how can online sellers make more hay while the sun shines on this sector? We’ve put together a brief plan that should help home and garden retailers to untangle the intricacies of this growing sector.

Plan your seasons

Planning around seasonality is a critical requirement in the home and garden business. If you’re selling in the UK, you know that the prime season for such products is between March and June. Make sure that you have your best selling products stocked long before that and also plan for shortages, shipping delays and customs particularities, especially for larger items.

Be flexible on delivery

Shipping rates and service levels are critical to home and outdoor sellers. With volume-based rate packages, oversized shipments, spikes in rates for remote locations and weight brackets impacting profitability, it’s critical you have flexible shipping options with real-time tracking in place. Over time, it can save you not only energy and money, but also prevent unpleasant shopping experiences for your customers.

Bundle your offerings

Matching items and bundling them together is a very efficient strategy for increasing the average spend per order. The bundles you put in place should cater to all buyer profiles, and reward those buyers who purchase more. This will gain their loyalty and inspire repeat purchases.

Get your data right

You can make high value decisions on planning, bundling, staffing and shipping with automated, accurate reports that show exactly what’s selling, how fast, when you’re going to run out of items, and how long it will take to get more stock in.

Figuring out in detail how much money you’re making on each item and how much cash is tied up in slow-moving merchandise that’s sitting in your warehouse can prove crucial when you want to increase profit margins and push your business forward.

Optimise your staffing

The larger and more complex your stock, the more pressure on supply logistics, warehousing and delivery. Use technology to automate simple, repetitive and manual business processes. Free up your staff to focus on where they can add value and to explore new growth opportunities.

Expand into international markets

While the UK is a strong market for home and garden products, you want to see your revenues grow all year round. For this, you need to find the regions where you can sell during the domestic low season. You can also avoid selling with lower profit margins towards the end of the season when you need to clear up the warehouse and offer significant discounts.

Do your research, learn as much as you can about local marketplaces and adapt your promotional and pricing strategy accordingly.

Whether you’re selling home improvement or outdoor products, nailing this sector comes down to mastering complexity and facilitating the movement of goods from suppliers to buyers. With a strong multi-channel solution that automatically manages your sales, supply and fulfilment, you can boost your sales and develop your business with ease and speed.

Dan Burnham, head of customer success, Volo Commerce

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