Taking Orders
Payment
Preparation
Packaging
Posting
Self-delivery
Click and collect (Updated 28 April)
Data Security

 

Taking Orders

(Updated 8th April) 

You should ensure that no orders are taken in person on the premises.  

You can receive orders over the phone, through your own website, or another online method eg. Email, SMS, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter.
Find a logical way to manage orders in date/time order.
If you are providing an online shopping list or order form, provide a clear description of what you are selling and the quantity. Use photos if you can.
Promote that you are providing a temporary delivery service through all your online channels.

 

Payment

There are a number of payment methods available:

  • Customer not present card payments - this means manually entering the customer’s long card number and security code on your terminal.
  • Online payment providers like PayPal or worldpay can provide a payment facility on your website. You should shop around for the best deal as transaction fees will vary and can be high.
  • You can offer credit at your discretion but you cannot add on a fee or charge interest. We would advise against offering a ‘buy now, pay later’ service unless the customer is well known to you.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, we advise against taking cash or card payments on delivery, unless you can offer contactless card payments.

 

Preparation

The first thing to do before packaging your plant is to make sure it has been watered so that it is properly hydrated and won’t dry out in transit. Depending on the plant type, we’d recommend that you water it roughly four to six hours before packaging it up for collection by courier or drop-off at the post office.

If you’re sending a plant that isn’t in a pot, you need to remove the thoroughly watered plant and its roots from the soil, taking care not to damage the roots. Shake the plant gently to remove as much of the soil as you can. Do not wash the roots, as some residual soil will help make the transition easier for the plant. Stabilise any errant growth to prevent breakage with plant ties, rubber bands or twist ties. You can also just roll the plant in some newspaper to protect the tops and stems.

Wrap the roots in moist paper towels or damp newspaper.

Once you’ve wrapped the roots, place the plant in a plastic or paper bag, but keep the top half and leaves exposed. 

 

Packaging

If you’re sending a plant via courier or Royal Mail, you’ll need to use a strong corrugated board box or tube that will protect your plant as it goes on its journey through depots and sorting facilities. Use a box that is only a little bit bigger than your wrapped plant so that it doesn’t move around too much on its travels. To fill any gaps, you should also use scrunched up newspaper or biodegradable packaging chips/ loosefill for extra cushioning inside the box. 

Once your plant is secure inside, tape the box shut carefully with packaging tape and label it as appropriate. Royal Mail imposes the following additional conditions:

  • Items must be suitably sealed to prevent leakage or tainting of other items such as in sealed vacuum packs.
  • The sender's name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
  • Packages must be clearly labelled "PERISHABLE".

 

Posting

You can post plants to anywhere in the UK, but be aware that they on the restricted items list, meaning you can post them but most couriers won’t cover you for compensation. 

Some couriers will only deliver to mainland UK. Delivery costs will almost certainly increase for delivery to the highlands and islands of Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Man.

You can use a parcel delivery comparison site (just google this term) to compare prices, restrictions and terms of service.

We’d strongly recommend you use a next day delivery service when posting a plant, because you’ll want it to arrive as soon as possible. If you’re using Royal Mail you must use 1st Class as the minimum service. Plants must be able to withstand a journey of up to 48 hours. (Frozen water and dry ice are prohibited).

 

Self-delivery

(Updated 8th April)

Check your vehicle insurance. Standard car insurance policies may not cover the use of the vehicle for business purposes and you my need to update your policy. Contact your insurance provider/broker to check if they can extend your business and vehicle insurance to cover for home delivery.

Consider the temperature in your vehicle. For example, do not leave plants in a hot vehicle all day with no airflow, or overnight if temperatures are very low.

Courtesy to other drivers and residents should be considered when making deliveries. Parking restrictions apply as normal although the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government advise good practice in parking enforcement allows for a 10 minute grace period.

The Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy have published further guidance on deliveries:   

  • You should advise all delivery drivers that no goods or food should be physically handed over to the customer. There should instead be a set drop-off point agreed in advance. 

  • After ringing the doorbell, the driver should maintain a safe distance from the door and oversee the delivery of the goods. The goods should not be left unattended. 

  • You should introduce a way for customers to be able to notify your business that they are in self-isolation or are unwell in advance of the delivery, in which case these guidelines should be very strictly followed. The driver should not enter the customer’s property. 

  • To minimise the risk that a customer does not answer the door, sensible steps such as setting an approximate delivery time and gaining a contact number should be taken. 

  • You should advise drivers to wash their hands using soap and water for 20 seconds as regularly as possible, and drivers should be given hand-sanitiser to be carried at all times and used after each delivery. 

  • To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues and drivers daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating. 

If you have less than 250 full-time employees you do not have to apply the single-use carrier bag charge.

Click and collect 

(Updated 28th April)  

England 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 5.1 (a) allows for all businesses to offer deliveries or in response to orders received through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication, by telephone, including orders by text message, by post.

Those businesses that are making deliveries or in response to orders received online, by phone or post must do so in accordance with guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for shops that are running a pick-up or delivery service. The full guidance can be found here.

However, the issue is that the legislation and guidance on travelling states that consumers should only leave home to shop for essential items, thereby creating a grey area.

Scotland  

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 4.2(a) allows for all businesses to offer deliveries or in response to orders received through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication, by telephone, including orders by text message, by post.

The Scottish Government, unlike Westminster, have not released guidance for businesses specifically on operating click and collect instead they have published a broad set of questions that businesses should consider while continuing to operate any service – and at all times work on the precautionary basis:

  • is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
  • if so, can your staff work from home?
  • if not, can you practice safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements?

If the answer to none of the above questions is yes, the Scottish Government’s advice on a precautionary basis is to close. At all-time businesses and employees must comply with the 2-meter rule.

Scottish Minister Mairie Gougeon has subsequently issued a letter directly to garden centres on Tuesday 22nd April which only mentions being allowed to do home deliveries and leaves out any reference to Click and Collect.

Again however, the issue is that the legislation and guidance on travelling states that consumers should only leave home to shop for essential items.

Wales  

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020, which was published Friday 24th April 2020. This law specifically states that all businesses can operate click and collect services.

The explanatory note of regulation 3 states that premises are “permitted to remain open to respond to orders and enquiries received online, by telephone or by post (for example to provide facilities for the uplift of orders placed online, generally known as a “click and collect” service).”

In Wales the requirement to remain two meters apart is law and must always be followed.

Therefore all businesses can operate a click and collect service and must adhere to public health guidelines.

Northern Ireland  

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 4.1 (a) allows for all businesses to offer deliveries or in response to orders received through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication, by telephone, including orders by text message, by post. It mentions a collection service.

Businesses that continue operating should follow the workplace safety guidelines on social distancing which can be found here.

Same issue here as in England and Scotland that the legislation and guidance on travelling states that consumers should only leave home to shop for essential items.

Also additionally in the Republic of Ireland, garden centres are open and therefore the public can travel to make purchases from garden centres accordingly, thereby creating a further grey area with reference to people travelling across the border to make purchases.

Summary

HTA advice is to contact your local authority if you are considering opening a click and collect service. In this way you can ensure you operating within the expectations of those who are enforcing and interpreting the legislation and guidance.

Data Security

We recommend all retailers follow good practice in handling customer data. Retailers should ensure their systems are secure, and only retain customer details as long as it is justifiable to do so. The Secretary of State for Health has stated that “no one should constrain work on responding to coronavirus due to data protection laws. Article 6(1)(e) states “processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller”. For more information visit the ICO website here.