The Client – Moutan Flowers
Moutan first opened in Odiham, Hampshire, in 2002 when the owner Julie Allen realised her dream of owning a country flower shop, turning a passion of painting flowers into working with them. Five years later Julie expanded to a second flower shop in the nearby village of Hartley Wintney, A further shop was opened in Farnham in September 2019.
Over this period, the product range expanded to include plants and gifts such as chocolates, candles, and bath and body products. When seasonally appropriate, Moutan also run floristry-related workshops.
Realising the potential for online sales, Moutan established an online shop initially selling a limited range of bouquets, and subsequently expanding to include other products. Now, the online shop offers seasonal floral designs, gift plants, gifts and accessories for local delivery by their dedicated team covering the North-Hampshire and West-Surrey areas from Basingstoke to Guildford and all the places in between!
The online shop came into its own during the pandemic lockdowns when many stores were forced to close completely. Moutan on the other hand was able to continue trading, albeit in a reduced capacity, by the online shop.
Out brief was to design a website that would reflect the beauty of the products being sold and act as a showcase for the stores
It was also to reflect the service that Moutan provided and act as an online resource for people in the catchment area who couldn’t get into one of the stores for any reason.
The site would have an eCommerce facility which would initially be limited but needed to be designed to be able to expand in the future.
We knew that a sizeable proportion of users would be reading the site from tablets and smart phone so the site had to be design to be as useable on those devices as well as on desktops and laptops.
Early on, we decided that the flowers should be the main feature of the overall look that we wanted – let the products speak for themselves. So, we kept the basic design simple and relied on images of the products to bring the design to life.
We were lucky to be able to obtain high-reolution images from the owner’s husband, Jason, who is a professional photographer. Jason’s stunning images are a key factor in the website’s success.
From the outset we decided to use WordPress as a CMS platform upon which to build the site. An earlier implementation of the site had already started, using RomanCart to sell a limited range of products. Given that this had been set up together with a payment facility that integrated directly to Moutan’s merchant trading account, we decided to continue to use RomanCart for the new online shop.
To achieve the look and functionality we wante we had to devise a bespoke design and integration to RomanCart. This bespoke solution was a success; so much so that RomanCart’s support people commented that it was one of the best integration to their platform that they had seen.
The RomanCart implementation did have its shortcomings, however. The main one was that additions and modifications to the product range were time consuming. For this reason, three years ago, we decided to switch the shopping side of the website to WooCommerce, an eCommerce application that integrates well with WordPress.
The main challenge for us with WooCommerce was how to implement the shipping costs. Moutan’s shipping costs are based around shipping areas. A shipping area can contain one or more towns, and villages, and any number of postcodes. This meant that we had to devise a completely different solution that would integrate shipping areas into the facilities provided by WooCommerce
Moutan’s website serves two purposes.
An online shop that currently accounts for a noticeable proportion of Moutan’s revenue. This is especially true around the events Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. In addition to selling bouquets and gift plants, together with upsell items such as candles, bath and body products, the website also allows customers to advertise and book workshops.
The website also serves as a brochure for the three shops themselves.
The success of the website is testimony to the approach that we agreed with Moutan. It has seen the company through the tough period of lockdowns and continues to be an increasingly important part of their business.
It serves as an example to other companies who have been less willing to embrace eCommerce technology ad part of their business models.