Gary’s Specialty Plants
1610 Fern Glen Drive | Drumore, PA 17518

Should you sell your houseplants through eCommerce?


Internet plants sales are a very small percentage of the Horticultural Industry. In the houseplant category, it has been mostly limited to specialty or rare plants at high prices.

With most Independent Garden Centers ordered closed or limited to parking lot sales, the decrease in sales volume is crippling.

We have several eCommerce customers and their direct to the homeowner model is overwhelmed with orders. Gardeners are home with time on their hands — “Hey... Let’s order some houseplants, they’ll be delivered to the door.”

Independent Garden Centers often have several divisions — Greenhouse plants and landscaping service. Greenhouse plants and patio furniture. Greenhouse and firewood. Some have jewelry, some have clothing, some have model railroad supplies; most have Christmas decorations.

Most business advisors will argue against the multichannel approach — they say pick the one channel that works and put all your effort into dominating it — “The best plants in town!”

Why jump to internet sales to divert attention away from your inhouse flowering displays?

Once retail stores are allowed to reopen, the walk-in traffic is going to be much lower than the boom times, B. C. (Before Coronavirus).

Plants delivered to the home is what gardeners will want.

“Amazon order volumes match those of the holiday season” – WSJ

This is not about how to technically do internet sales — It’s a discussion about: ‘Should you?’


Plan 1


Do it yourself. Create an online store to sell plants. The management of the mechanics have never been easier. There are platforms that manage your item listing with pictures, prices and descriptions. Payments are secure, confirmations are automatic, shipments are scheduled and tracked.

Offer this project to a young employee who knows the potential and would love to show you how to blow this up to a division way bigger than patio furniture and firewood. It should be someone different from your houseplant manager. It’s a different way of thinking.

The pain point is packing the plants so there is no breakage when the box is tumbled on the sorting conveyor belt or dropped 6 feet into bins. The challenge has always been how to keep the dirt from falling out of the pot while protecting the foliage.

Until you can pack and ship plants, don’t try this.


Plan 2


Subcontract the fulfillment to someone who likes to pack and ship and is so good at it, there are no complaints. You pick the plants and manage the orders.


Plan 3


Identify those local internet sellers who are already buying select plants at your retail price and reselling them on the internet.

How can this possibly work? They buy at a high price and can sell at an even higher price based on rareness or simple convenience of home delivery.

What if you made them a deal that you would sell plants from your retail inventory at 40% off? You get more volume and faster turn over. They get access to a wider variety from your multiple grower suppliers that they can’t get. You have greenhouse space, they don’t.


Conclusion


There is no doubt that internet plant sales are going to increase. The Coronavirus lockdown has proven it’s a viable sales channel. There are big (1,000 boxes/day) and little (30 orders/ week from home) players already doing this.

Independent Garden Centers must get their sales volume back up...

eCommerce is one way but will never work without serious commitment.


White paper — Gary’s Specialty Plants

April 2020