The Garden Gates has set itself apart through a unique combination of not only modern, technological advancements but also an old-fashioned, neighborly way of thinking. Each of our staff members strive to stay abreast on the latest business trends and ways to stay in constant contact with our customers. By creating solid and trusting relationships with our customers and enhancing them with technology, our staff brings together a unique combination of hands-on and guided shopping. A significant amount of business is technology-driven this way; for example, the customers who are fans on facebook are first to see new arrivals at the store, and usually the first to buy as well. From there, the hallmark of social media is illustrated as news of our products is spread virally.
The Internet has allowed The Garden Gates’ customer base to expand a great deal. It not only acts as a supplement to our physical store for local customers but also is the face of the company to national and international clients. Through integrating our website with social media outlets and our blog, customers have numerous opportunities to make a connection to The Garden Gates. We can create a unique shopping experience because customers can first read about industry news on our blog, watch an instructional video on YouTube, purchase the product through www.thegardengates.com, and then connect with other customers and staff through social media.
The Garden Gates’ YouTube channel is a collection of past television commercials and instructional videos. Not only is it fun but also it’s interactive, which is an easy way to engage customers. With more and more people having Internet access on their phones, access to our world of information comes at the touch of a button.
With over 2600 Facebook fans and 1500 followers on Twitter, The Garden Gates has been using social media as a marketing tool and way to set them apart with great success. What’s simpler than uploading an album with pictures of new products and putting a quick announcement of their arrival? Facebook and Twitter are a fast, effective, and free way to announce a sale, trunk show, or special product. Another important aspect is that customers are able to give us direct feedback and we can communicate with them simultaneously, which is crucial to the post purchase relationship.
The Garden Gates’ blog offers current and potential customers friendly advice, and it is a way for the Harris’ to put down their thoughts. We post media mentions of our shop, gardening tips, and home decorating and gift ideas. With such categories as All About Plants, Community Outreach, Party Ideas, and Brand New at The Shop, there is a post on our blog to interest an array of visitors.
The Garden Gates’ website is a comprehensive and user friendly site with access to technical support twenty-four hours a day. Customers can easily find and purchase items for the home, bed and bath, and the garden and outdoor living. We also offer a generous supply of jewelry and apparel. Although our physical location is bursting with beautiful displays and ample ideas, The Garden Gates’ online store holds so much more, especially when it comes to specialty items.
The Garden Gates’ staff might say there is a learning curve when they first come to work there. Everyone learns the detailed and very helpful computer programs and gets on the same email system so that we can chat with each other throughout the day. The chat feature is especially convenient when communicating between upstairs and downstairs. In addition to computer skills, every one has advanced phone skills. Whether it’s taking pictures at market and sending them to clients who’s taste we know well or uploading thoughts and pictures as something at work inspires us. We are always proud to show off a beautiful display and constantly communicating with each other, customers, and friends via any way we can. This is a definite advantage with savvy customers and suppliers.
Because of the significant Internet commerce in which The Garden Gates engages, we strive to utilize ways of measuring and reaching our target customers. Search Engine Optimization is the only language used on our website and is extremely beneficial because it makes every word and phrase count. Making The Garden Gates a top Google hit is a priority; correct wording is necessary to make this happen. Following buyer behavior on The Garden Gates’ website is an easy but important way to spot trends or potential problems. We examine words or phrases they have searched, how long they view an item, if and how many times they go back to view the item in question, and how many items they add or subtract if they load a shopping cart. We also red flag customers who load shopping carts but do not make a purchase. Through understanding the buying behavior of Internet customers, we can develop sure-fire methods to ensure a purchase and make the overall experience a positive one. Our goal it to satisfy our customers, and we find out what they want through Internet behavior.
The print portion is the backbone of our advertising because at this point it is the most tried and true method, and we understand that traditional advertising . It makes us laugh to see how many customers come in to the store clutching a torn-out page from the latest catalog or one with circles all on the inside and say, “I want this!” On average, we send The Garden Gates’ seasonal catalogs to 30,000 people; however, that list increases by more than double for the Holiday Season. We begin work on the Holiday Catalog in May, and it truly is a labor of love. Each member of The Garden Gates team contributes greatly is his or her own way, whether it’s a product to include, color to change, or a wonderfully written product description. In addition to catalog, we mail out fliers for each event we have and sometimes as reminders too.
Exclusivity – Licensing Programs and Private Label
Exclusive relationships are another principal element that sets The Garden Gates’ apart from other home and garden stores. A fundamental goal in this industry is to have or do what the competition doesn’t, and our “do it ourselves” mentality has helped us accomplish this.
Although we value our supplier relationships, sometimes taking out the middle man just makes sense. Having learned how easily we can have special products made and sent directly to us, there is no excuse to forge our own path and have designers work directly with us. As of recent, The Garden Gates has created our own line of French Lace Wire Baskets which are ideal for indoors as well as out. Another popular store product are our line of miniature fleur-de-lis pots. The Garden Gates is known for carrying perfect mini orchids throughout the year, mini poinsettias for the Holidays, and various other beauties for each season. The pots are inexpensive, fit the miniature plants perfectly, and add a personal touch to an otherwise simple gift. Our customers love them because they perk up a bathroom or nightstand, and guests appreciate them.
The Garden Gates’ has a number of exclusive contracts with local artists and designers which gives us an edge over other home decor stores. Recently, we became the first retailer licensed to make and sell Newcomb College branded shirts and accessories. Because this school has never had their own products, we recognized the opportunity to partner with the institution – the outpouring of board and alumna support has been tremendous. The Garden Gates has also teamed up with a local New Orleans artist and French Quarter gallery owner, Matt Rinard, to create images for t-shirts, mugs, and stickers with clever gardening phrases. Co-branding with designers to create unique products has proven to be mutually beneficial for both sides. The Garden Gates has something that no one else has, and the artist sees piqued interest in their work because it’s exclusive. Donna Hilton is one example of this; she began as a Garden Gates customer and now sells her organic, white-canvased works only through our store. She uses elements from nature (and sometimes from The Garden Gates’ garden center), and her aesthetic works perfectly with ours. Overall, our special relationships not only help out the community but also give us a competitive advantage.
The Harris’ stand firm in the philosophy that giving back should not be a question. It is a necessity of life and a gift to be able to give so much back to those that support the business. Every year, The Garden Gates’ donates an average of $50,000 in various forms to local charities, schools, churches, and organizations. No one that comes through our doors is turned down.
- Community Outreach
- Christmas Program -total given to all schools 15,000
- Donations – 50,000.00
Chad Everett Harris is writing for a national publication for the next year because he is now considered an expert in creative marketing and so knowledgeable in industry products