The Summer 2008 Mailorder Gardening Conference included an informative customer panel moderated by Kip Creel of Standpoint Marketing. The panel included 10 people from member companies’ house lists, and represented a wide range of gardening interests and expertise. Almost without exception, they expressed the same pet peeves with many garden catalogs.
“Show us what the plant looks like!” they cried. “Not just the bloom that appears for one week a year. We want to know what the whole plant will look like for the other 51 weeks of the year.”
They were even more adamant on the subject of shipping fees. All panelists said they looked at the total cost before deciding whether to order or where to order from. Burying shipping rates on the final page of checkout was considered an annoyance at best, and an attempt to obfuscate at worst.
What surprised me was the lack of weight the panelists gave to a strong guarantee. Personally, I consider guarantees a big plus for mail order nurseries. To our panelists, it was a small consideration when deciding where to buy.