Exceeding expectations online

Fred van Tol

Fred van Tol Manager of International Development at Royal FloraHolland

Being honest online to customers is just as important as face-to-face trade

It was my first time shopping plants online, but I ordered a palm last month via the internet. I had to because of the low stock of houseplants at my local garden centre. I have to admit that I had a good experience. Because of the low sales, summer period, they kept just a few pieces of the different varieties of palm plants in stock and my wife, and I couldn’t agree on which one to buy. But we felt the necessity to fill the gap in our living room and wanted a lovely green replacement for the outgrown one. So, I went to the online webshop to see what options I could find.

At first, I didn’t feel comfortable. I have ordered more and more articles digitally over the past months, but with my knowledge of houseplants, I had specific expectations. The product photos showed an excellent example of a Kentia palm in a non-regular cultivation pot, and I recognised the grower who uses these particular pots. A well-known specialist for this specific product. So first, I sent an email to the webshop to ask them if the product would come from this particular grower. Unfortunately, the actual stock wasn’t from this specific grower, but they promised me that I would get a similar product. After my approval, the order was prepared and delivered a day later at my address. Although the size of the Kentia palm was quite big, it was carefully packed in a specially designed carton packaging. Taking the plant out of it, I was impressed. Even bigger, higher and bushier than the photo shown on the internet page.

The reason I share this story is that it is all about expectation. Tell your customer what you have to offer and if an order follows, make sure that you at least deliver up to these expectations. If possible, even a bit better. Be open and honest in your communication, show actual and representative pictures, and make sure that the product arrives well packed and controlled. This attention is the case in a business to consumer relationship and in a business to a business situation. At Royal FloraHolland, we are digitalising our dealmaking platform step by step. Critical in positioning yourself as a reliable supplier is the information of your products. So make sure that all the information is available and pictures are representative of your stock. And make sure you deliver up to specifications.

In my case, almost everything went up to the expectation except the picture on the website. If the seller had made sure that this was also representative of the actual stock, it would have been an exceptional experience. I wish you and your customers also the best experiences in an upcoming digital world.

Fred van Tol
Manager of International Development
Royal FloraHolland

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