How do you successfully launch an online store in the middle of a pandemic in a market dominated by huge, well-established competitors?
The Honeysett family have been growing garden plants at Cade Street Nursery in East Sussex for over 40 years.
Since we started working with them in 2015, we’ve seen their customer base increase and the physical garden centre gradually get bigger and more impressive as it was redeveloped.
In 2019, they dipped their toe into the e-commerce water and started selling a handful of products from their website, with plans to steadily grow online sales over time to complement healthy sales via their market stalls and the nursery plant centre.
And then, in March 2020, along with the rest of the world, everything came to a halt because of COVID.
The Garden Centre was forced to close its doors and there were no markets to sell at. With the busiest time of the year rapidly approaching, Cade Street was faced with disaster.
How could it keep trading if customers couldn’t come to their premises?
With a national lockdown looming, Rob Honeysett got in touch to talk about what we might be able to do to ramp up the fledgling online shop so they could continue to serve their customers.
Within a week, with our help, Rob and his team got most of their best-selling stock listed on the website, and we made some urgent improvements to the site to communicate how customers were able to place and collect their orders.
When the lockdown came, the combination of people having time on their hands, a spell of great weather and no large DIY stores or garden centres being open created a perfect storm – and the orders started flooding in.
Online orders in April and May actually exceeded the previous year’s takings from all outlets, keeping the business in good health during the most desperate of times.
That was all well and good, but next came the challenge of how to sustain this success when the perfect storm passed;
How could we keep attracting customers to the site when bigger, more established competitors dominate the most popular search results?
We realised Cade Street had no chance of competing with the big boys for generic, high volume search terms, but we’d had success previously with a blog post about a particular plant range, and devised a strategy to target other specific plants in a similar way in order to gradually build up search traffic.
We worked with the client to create a “How to” template that could be re-purposed for a number of different plants, with each one aiming to be the best blog post on the internet about how to care for that particular plant.
Our work in quickly getting the ecommerce shop set up at the start of the pandemic helped Cade Street make the most of difficult trading conditions to exceed the previous year’s turnover.
The SEO work has increased year-on-year traffic to the website by a whopping 955%.
Getting the online shop up to speed so quickly during the first lockdown was vital for us, and meant we were able to continue trading strongly as a business. And now we have a robust platform and a digital marketing plan for a significant, profitable revenue stream in the future."Rob Honeysett, Managing Director
Cade Street Nursery