Here at GardenSite we are celebrating our 18th birthday, David Coton recalls how we have grown from an off shoot of a family run garden centre into one of the UK's leading online garden supplies retailers.
I think it's about time we opened the box on our Dispatch Department here at GardenSite. These are the guys who primarily pack and wrap all the goods that come out of stock from our warehousing, or even directly off the shelves at our garden centres.
Getting it right musters little praise, unless the goods get delivered in a super quick time; getting it wrong evokes frustration and accusations of incompetence. But this isn't the whole story...
Fundamentally our delivery options to our customers are split into two paths. If the goods come direct from the manufacturer, or their logistics company, we depend on them to give the service we expect, and consequently we expect.
We have close relations with our suppliers, some of these going back to the 1960's, such as Barlow Tyrie! We are proud of this, just as we are proud of the quality of goods and level of service they all offer. If the goods are part of our inventory we will dispatch them ourselves.
Originally the demand for goods to be sent from stock / warehousing came about with our online Christmas selling. This was right back at the turn of the new century and I have to say we were one of the first, if not the first company to be selling Christmas lines over the internet in the UK.
Tired of trying to wrap the parcels 'on the counter' we converted an old out building at the top of our Sutton Coldfield garden centre into our Dispatch Department. This was quickly followed by our Dispatch Department at our Castle Bromwich garden centre. They probably had to share a computer back then but now they have all the communications they need, and want.
Much of it is integrated with our partners like Parcelforce, SagePay, PayPal and more. If you phone or e-mail regarding an issue it will probably get routed through to Dispatch where Liann and Sophie will deal with the query at Sutton Coldfield or Keith, Carl or Eddie at Castle Bromwich. We rely on them a lot nowadays.
We have branded packaging, of course, but we are also very keen to recycle as much packaging as possible. All members of staff will recycle boxes, bubble wrap and other packaging from home to add to the mountain of packaging we receive as a working garden centre that we recycle.
Yesterday we received nearly 20 pallets from Henri Studios Inc. in Illinois, USA. Inside the very large cardboard boxes is a mass of shredded packaging that has safely carried their cast stone fountains acoss the Atlantic to our Sutton Coldfield base.
All of this will find it's way into much smaller packages that we send out along with pre-used bubble wrap complete with old GardenSite tape and any other pre-used packaging that we receive.
We send out lots of delicate light bulbs, quartz sleeves etc. and have found the best, and safest method of dispatch is inside an old cut down cardboard carpet roll tube, or fabric tube. We collect these from local shops in Boldmere who are happy to have someone make use of their rubbish, and collect it from them as well. Hats off to Swags 'n' Tails (see David Hall for names) for all your help.
Of course this saves us some money as well as enabling us to recycle as much as possible. If your goods are in a pre-used box, with pre-used packaging and arrive safely and on time, please praise our unsung, and often unseen (but pre-used) guys in our Dispatch Departments!
In normal circumstances with warmer weather and Easter coming along soon, you should be stocking up on bedding plants to fill planters, borders and hanging baskets. However, even though the garden centre is currently closed, we are still trading online and, while you may be confined to home, there are plenty of garden jobs for you to tackle during April. David Coton has these suggestions.
Sustainability and a growing awareness of wildlife are two of the key gardening trends identified by the Royal Horticultural Society for 2020, with gardeners in a position where they can make a substantial impact regarding environmental issues.
Robert Hall explains how getting out into the garden can help us to exercise, get out into the open air, enjoy time with nature and to help keep our minds occupied during these overwhelming Covid-19 times.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020.