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Hedges Direct

Hedges Direct is the UK’s leading supplier of hedging plants, available nationally by ordering online or by phone. Since 2006 they have sold millions of quality hedging and garden plans, from tiny 10cm plants to 9m tall super specimens. They have a wide range of products to suit the hobby gardener or landscaping business.

Commercial goals achieved

  • Core technical services, including hosting and support
  • Front end responsive web design
  • Signature feature development
  • Back office integration for fulfilment

The relationship

For over a decade, Sellerdeck has been Hedges Directs ecommerce solutions provider, supporting them in their growth plans. During that time, Hedges Direct has grown its sales by more than ten fold. As they have grown, Sellerdeck has changed the relationship to ensure a our service matches their requirements. Hedges Direct understand its industry in great depth and have designed specific features to maximise the browser experience and increase conversion rates. With Hedges Directs industry knowledge and focus on the customer, Sellerdeck has developed the features to make its plans achievable.

Specific features

Listing all species on the same product for easy navigation

Hedges Direct sell about 80 different species of plant. Plants are available at different sizes, with different root treatments (bare root, pot, root ball) but the final plants will look the same so species images and descriptions will be the same. Therefore each section for a species contains a Species Product with species information, followed by multiple individual products, one for each possible size and root type that are currently available. The species product doesn’t have a separate product page, but all individual products do.

The Section page doesn’t just list all products in the section in the normal way. It shows the details of the Species Product in the section, then loops over all the normal products in the section and creates simple summary HTML for a list of products. This shows key information about root type, plant size and an add to cart button.

So when a customer lands on a species section (or “species page”) they get information about the species with photos of how it will look when mature, and they can see a list of sizes to buy.

When a Species page is loaded there may be many versions of the species available – being a combination of 4 different root types and many different sizes. However, depending on season and customer, they may have a strong preference for the root type. Someone with a bit more cash to spare and little time will be looking for an instant hedge in a trough. Another may be looking for a bare root bargain.

Therefore when the species page is loaded, some JavaScript works out what sorts of root type are available; and also looks for an indicator for the preference of the customer. This might be set in a cookie or as a parameter to the page URL.  The JavaScript shows products which match the selected root type, and hides the others. Clicking a root type selector will change the set of products that are displayed. Another selection is made between individual and bulk (palleted) products.

This simplifies the many different combinations of plants that are available for a given species, making it easier for customers to find the plant that fits their requirements.

Hedges Direct also need to upsell “Planting Essential” items like Rootgrow, a product which boosts the root systems of plants and is particularly beneficial for bare root products. The amount of Rootgrow required depends on the number of bare root plants purchased. Fertiliser is another product which depends on the order. This upsell can’t be done in the product page as the customer may add multiple plants, all needing the same Planting Essential product. The only place it can be calculated is in the cart.

A facility was added to allow product variables to be added to the cart. A system of variable names was created to automatically allow Hedges Direct to create quantity-dependent Planting Essential products. For each normal product, variables indicate how much of a particular Planting Essential is required – for example, it may be 20g of Rootgrow. When the plant is in the cart this value is available in the HTML for the cart. JavaScript in the page reads the value of the variable, multiplies by the number ordered, and calculates the total requirement. It also checks if the Planting Essential product is in the cart already and the quantity ordered. If there is a shortfall then a short product description, with Add to Cart button with the correct amount pre-selected, is unhidden below the cart.

So if a customer orders 200 bare root plants, needing 4kg of Rootgrow, the JavaScript will calculate that two 2kg tubs of Rootgrow are needed. Clicking Add to Cart will add those to the cart – and subsequently the Planting Essential product listing below the cart moves under a header that indicates that enough has been ordered.

This makes a frictionless upsell for a complex requirement, giving peace of mind for the customer that they have sufficient for their order without having to make a manual calculation.

With so many products which are very similar – just a different size and root type – and with each having a single product page, there was a risk of creating a maintenance nightmare. If the description for a particular species was changed then every product of that species would have to change as well.

This was solved by putting special text “__UseParent__” in the product description for an individual plant. The product layout tests for that text, and if found, loops through all products in the section and finds the species product. The description from the species product is used.

Therefore just updating the description of the species product is all that is needed to update the descriptions for all products of that species.

There are a number of other facilities that have been built into the structure of the Hedges Direct site to make it easier to maintain.

Filtering allows you to have a page that brings in products across your whole catalogue. The customer can choose which products to see, but there are limitations in the information that can be shown with the products. Sometimes a more static listing is required. In earlier versions of Sellerdeck Desktop, Product Duplicates were used to achieve this. A section would contain Product Duplicates linking to products elsewhere in the site, simplifying maintenance of product information. However, by using some PHP in a section, much more powerful features can be constructed.

Hedging customers may want to see which products are available in a given root type. Near the end of the bare root season in early Sprint stocks may be running low. A customer might flexible on the species to use, and wants to avoid having to scan through all the products to find any which have bare roots available. A filtering page can be used, but it would be difficult to add information about the cheapest bare root plant available for each species, for example.

Therefore we created pages similar to this example. This gives some information about bare root plants, then lists all species with bare root plants available, with the cheapest bare root plant shown. This is created in PHP in a layout by looping through all plants in the catalogue, and finding all species that have bare root plants. For each species, the cheapest bare root product is found. Then the species are sorted alphabetically and the information for each species inserted into the page.

The great advantage of this is that it updates automatically as products become available and prices change. The latest information is available to the customer after a publish.

Hedges Direct use four basic shipping methods – Parcel, Box, Tall Box and Pallet. Products are put into each shipping method by artificially setting the weight so it fits in the “up to weight in kg” setting for each shipping method. Threshold weights are separated by a factor of 1000 so that up to 1000 of a given product can be added before the total cart weight moves to the next shipping method. This is unlikely and can be handled by a call to the customer.

Each shipping method is free if the cart value exceeds a certain amount. There is JavaScript in the cart page which reads the calculated shipping method from the page as well as the value of the cart, and works out how much more has to be added to the cart to qualify for free shipping. This is shown in a message under the shipping amount.

In addition, a variable is used to flag special “Garden Extras” products. These are products with a small value and which customers may need to restock. In the cart there is a part of the layout which loops over all products in the catalogue, and for Garden Extra products the product information along with an add to cart button are created in a hidden div. The JavaScript mentioned previously looks through those Garden Extra products and if any have a value greater than the amount to qualify for free shipping, they are unhidden.

So the customer may see that they need to add another £10 for free shipping, and then also see a couple of products worth £12 and £15 that will take them over the threshold. This is a targeted upsell of small value products.