Online Supplier of Garden Furniture – Case study

Background

Online supplier of premium outdoor and garden furniture providing goods to mainland UK. Products include, but not limited to, Rattan furniture, fire pits, outdoor dining tables and chairs, canopies along with weatherproof covers for most stock.

A relatively small business that, through their website, was able to look a lot larger than they really were. They did not physically stock any products in the UK but drop-shipped via a Dutch supplier meaning that our client was able to focus on their marketing, tending to the occasional phone call from buyers chasing an order or asking questions about their products.

Our new client had seen a steady income through the distribution and sale of their furniture range but this changed dramatically in the summer of 2020 when sales took off as the effects of the nationwide lockdown took their toll with more and more people looking to spend time at home and in their gardens. Despite the decline for some business during the first Covid lockdown, this supplier actually took on new staff to help with answering telephone calls and processing orders.

Brexit and Covid bring an abrupt end to growth

Our client suddenly ran into supply issues at the start of 2021 as the fallout from Brexit meant most items being drop-shipped from the Netherlands, stopped. For the first 2 months of 2021 our new client frantically tried to find new ways of importing their outdoor furniture that would not fall foul of the new import rules and tariffs.

This combined with yet another lockdown meant that they had to furlough staff as sales slumped due to them not being able guarantee delivery, complaints also took their toll on the remaining staff as they were unable to confirm delivery dates.

Our client, despite the huge growth the year before, essentially had to suspend their business.

Rattan garden furniture ordered online

No choice but to outsource telephone answering and some customer service tasks

Our client was able to source new suppliers and also increase their product range by the end of April but by the time they were able to properly start trading again in late June they had already missed out on much of their peak season.

Although they had managed to secure new suppliers their troubles were not over as many of the staff that they had furloughed had moved on to new jobs and so much of their time in summer was spent trying to recruit. They found it almost impossible to fill positions in the office, as a result they looked at outsourcing some, or as much as possible, of their customer service.

Planning ahead with Connect’s call answering services

Having found our telephone answering service on a Google search, our new client filled out an application for a 30 day free trial but had to leave lots of blank answers as their case was a little more complex than normal. Upon receipt of the application, our customer service team gave the client a call to help fill in the blanks and also to make sure we understood their needs.

Our operators now work as a virtual reception team for our client, answering calls, placing orders and also helping to check up on orders placed.

After a successful trial, our client was delighted to sign up for a Pro:125 package which, with current call volumes, will see them through to the start of Spring 2022. After this they expect they will need to increase their package significantly as the weather improves and people want to spend more time outdoors enjoying their gardens. As we offer a monthly rolling contract this fits in perfectly for a seasonal business such as outdoor furniture sales.

Page Last Updated: November 1st, 2021

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