Even though COVID-19 created, and maybe still creates, tough times for many companies, it also offered companies new insights and opportunities. California Orchid nursery Westerlay Orchids, for example, discovered their ecommerce's potential. They had not used ecommerce as a channel to reach its customers before and will now further expand it in the coming months. They even hired an Ecommerce Specialist, Grace Hanna to do so.
Rapid shift to online sales
The shift to online sales was made rapidly, explains Grace Hanna. "The disruption of the brick and mortar supply chain, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, left Westerlay without a market right before Easter and Mother’s Day. In order to get the plants to the customer, they had to pivot away from its current focus and adapt to the new normal. "This is how the boxoforchids.com website was born."
Reaching customers directly
Using this new website as a tool, they were able to reach out to their customers directly. On top of that, the website also facilitated their 100,000 Orchids Challenge. Besides selling the flowers, Westerlay Orchids also donated thousands of plants to frontline healthcare workers in their community.
Importance of secondary sales channel
Fortunately, their brick and mortar retail market has recovered, but according to Hanna, this experience demonstrated how valuable a secondary sales channel can be and offered new insights into ecommerce’s potential for reaching our customers directly. "In this way, ecommerce represents both an effective way to develop resilience to market changes and an opportunity to pursue new sales when used alongside our existing retail strategies."
In the coming months, they will be expanding their ecommerce operations as they prioritize website development and increase their brand’s presence online. "The goal of this phase in our ecommerce development is to offer our customers a seamless purchasing experience and to reach out to new customers looking for high quality and on-trend orchids for their homes and workplaces."
How was the year so far for Westerlay?
Hanna: "Like many businesses, this year has presented new and unexpected challenges for Westerlay Orchids. Our team has shown incredible resilience as we encounter an ever shifting landscape. This time has also afforded us the opportunity to reflect on operational practices. We have thoroughly reviewed how we conduct business, establish new policies and norms, along with re-investing emotionally into the employees well being. It’s vitally important that every team member is made to feel taken care of and provided a safe work environment during these unprecedented times."
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3504 Via Real, Carpinteria, California