The team had the benefit of being linked to one of the UK's premier garden centres, with a very loyal retail following, thanks to tourist visitors to the Lake District.
The website started with just a few listed products and staff were initially surprised at how well they sold. The commercial and brand-building opportunity soon became clear. From the start, the mission was not only to build sales but also to replicate the business ethos online, through quality products, excellent service and freely available customer advice.
Hayes has invested in quality content for site visitors. The website is kept vibrant and updated with new information as it happens. During office hours, visitors to the website are offered instant help or a call back from staff to advise on purchases.
As well as offering a wide selection of seasonal products, the website communicates the many special promotions and events designed to always offer something entertaining and new. The Hayes blog provides informative content, viewed by more than 10,000 people a month.
Another development has been to use the power of digital media such as YouTube to post advice videos online. Engaging online content and a programme of constantly changing activities and competitions have also proved very successful.
The final but vital link in the chain of delivering excellent customer service is achieved by the dedicated team of distribution staff. Some 90% of the value of Hayes' online turnover is delivered via its own vehicles and staff.
Since relaunching the enhanced version of the website five years ago, 70% of visitors find it through organic, content-driven searches. There has been double-digit turnover growth for several years and 2015's 25% increase was set to be exceeded in 2016, while profitability is extremely strong.