How Linnworks automation delivered multichannel sales growth for Direct Plants

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Direct Plants is an established business in the home and garden space. Selling a wide range of outdoor plants to UK customers from its nursery in Norfolk, the family-owned business had a proven track record in physical retail for over 20 years before moving online through eBay in 2006 and expanding to an Amazon-branded store and direct-to-consumer website.

The problem: Manual workflows lead to missed selling opportunities

While the business experienced sustained growth across all selling channels, managing a changing list of SKUs became a manual task due to the seasonal nature of outdoor plants. Of 10,000 total SKUs listed by Direct Plants, up to 1,000 were in season at any given point.

What’s more, Direct Plants struggled to maintain accurate inventory levels as orders accelerated, with significant business impact. Overselling led to disappointed customers and delayed orders, while underselling popular seasonal plants led to missed sales opportunities.

Plants Direct Plants

The Solution: Designing infrastructure for future business growth.

Shaun O’Brien, Company Director at Direct Plants, says: “the challenges we had with a fast-changing product line, juggling multichannel selling and inventory management were limiting the business so I approached Frooition, a specialist ecommerce design agency, in early 2018. The recommended solution was to use BigCommerce as our ecommerce platform and Linnworks to manage our multichannel inventory and order management.”

Guided by Frooition and with a seamless setup on Linnworks and BigCommerce, Direct Plants quickly saw the benefits of streamlining multichannel workflows.

Shaun adds: “I can’t imagine operating without Linnworks. Providing a fast and efficient service is critical for a perishable item such as outdoor plants, and because I can trust Linnworks, that helps build our customer’s trust in our business. The ability to quickly update SKUs to reflect changes in our inventory and accurately syncing inventory levels across our selling channels means I don’t have to worry about overselling or underselling. I have full control to set up new users and can give them streamlined access to focus on order management means they can focus on day-to-day operations and order fulfillment, which frees up my time to focus on the business.”

A woman gardening Direct Plants

What’s next: Further growth fuelled by automation

2020 was a bumper year for sales at Direct Plants as shoppers invested heavily in the home and garden category orders jumping as much as fourfold during the first lockdown.

While 2021 presents fresh challenges around sourcing, packaging and staffing, Direct Plants are well positioned to maintain a strong performance again this year.

Shaun comments: “Our goal is to continue to improve our sales and profitability each year, and Linnworks will help us to achieve that growth. I am still finding features in Linnworks, such as automated barcode scanning which streamlined a previously manual order management process. Every time a member of the Linnworks team shows me a new feature, I know it’ll help us run more efficiently as a business. After seeing how we’ve dealt with peak and increased sales in 2020, I know Linnworks will be capable of supporting us in years to come.”

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