Archive for the 'Garden Industry' Category

Why can’t you buy plants online?

eCommerce

Because it is hard to do.  That was the conclusion of a recent article in Horticulture Week which explored some of the challenges garden centres face when trying to sell online.  The cost of shipping was also cited as a significant hurdle as it can dramatically increase the price to the consumer.

Despite these challenges, some retailers have found success selling live plant material online, particularly those serving niche markets, where there are few alternatives. Here in Canada Valley Succulents would seem to fit that profile.  They have made a business selling a selection of rare and unusual cacti and succulents online from their location on Vancouver Island.

So is e-commerce a none starter when it comes to live plants?  I think a better question is what is the potential for growth?  Compared to other types of retailers in other markets (think clothing & electronics), garden centres and nurseries are behind when is comes to e-commerce adoption.  Given the unique challenges associated with selling live plant material, there may be a lower cap on the potential for growth, but there is still plenty of room to grow.

The market for live plant material tends to skew older.  Now that so called digital natives are buying homes and settling down, they may start gardening, landscaping and purchasing plants in significant numbers. These new gardeners are used to purchasing from Amazon and other online retailers, and will soon come to expect this option to purchase online when dealing with their local garden centre.  Retailers that figure out how to sell plants online will be rewarded.

Thankfully online commerce is not an all or nothing proposition.   There are ways to ease into this new sales channel.  Businesses can start with online marketing, and making their inventory available online.  They can develop a blended “clicks & bricks” model that let’s a customer purchase online and pick up in store like the program developed by Monrovia.

The first step is establishing online connections with your customers, be that your website, social media, or mobile apps like Plantola.  Get comfortable interacting with your customers through digital channels, and demonstrate to your customers that you are responsive. Amazon started out selling a single science textbook online.  Eventually they figured out how to sell much, much more.  The horticulture industry needs to go through a similar learning curve.  Thankfully, the journey should be much easier since many others have already traveled the same path.

Matt

About Plantola

Plantola makes it easy to catalog and share your garden with friends and businesses, like your landscaper, or local garden center. Like the look of that tree down the street? Take a picture and share it with your plant guy. Captivated by the rose growing in your friend’s garden? Look it up while you are at the garden center. Plantola lets gardeners spend more time in the garden, and less time looking for plants.  For more information visit www.plantola.com.

Download the Plantola iPhone app

5 reasons to spend more time at the Garden Centre

Garden Centre

If you are a plant-file like me you probably need little in the way on convincing to get me to spend more time (and money) at the garden centre.  Garden centres engage all of your senses – sight, smell, touch and even taste.  And generally speaking the people that work at garden centres are pretty awesome!  You have to really like plants, and people, to work at a garden centre, let alone own one.

Unfortunately, most garden centres, at least in North America, are located on the periphery of towns and cites.  Some of my favorites likes Grobes, and Heeman’s are a few kilometers outside the city. Unless your daily commute to work takes you past the garden centre, going to the garden centre requires more forethought than spontaneity.

Despite not being the most convenient places to get to here are 5 reasons why you should be spending more time at the garden centre.

The flowers are always changing

Unless your yard is decorated with plastic flowers (not that there is anything wrong with that) your garden is alive and in a constant state of change.  So to are the plants sold by your local garden centre.  You may walk right by that flowering vine in the spring, but come back in late July when the plant has matured, and in full bloom, you may go home with 3 of them, and kick yourself for not getting them in the ground earlier.

Much like the fashion industry, garden centres change their stock throughout the gardening season, as plants become available from different growers. You would be hard pressed to find a single pot of Mum’s in the spring, but come back in September, and they are seemingly everywhere. Generally speaking, selection is at it’s highest in the Spring and Fall which are both optimum times to plant outdoors.

Expert advice

Local utilities companies popularized the saying “call before you dig” to reduce accidents and service disruptions caused .  Perhaps garden centres should should promote the saying “visit before you dig” to help their customers avoid costly mistakes, and make gardening more enjoyable.  There are lot’s of things to consider when purchasing a plant for your garden, such as, is this the right plant for this space? How do I take care of this plant? And what plants are complimentary?  Good garden centres can help you answer these questions.

Meet fellow gardeners

There is nothing like the validation of a fellow gardener when choosing plants for your garden. Want to talk to a green thumb, just visit your local garden centre, and talk to some of the other customers.  More than a few friendships, and even romances have started while walking through the aisles of a garden centre.  Plants are great.  People that love plants are even better.

Hang out

Looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, why not visit the garden centre.  Garden centres a probably one of the most relaxing retail spaces out there.  In many urban areas, they are almost a substitute for parks and other green spaces where access to nature is hard to come by.  As someone that lives in Canada, where the snow falls 5 or 6 months of the year, there is no better cure for the winter blues than walking around a heated greenhouse full of plants.

Increasingly garden centres have started to capitalize on being a “destination” rather than just a store and created spaces for people to relax, and spend more time in their space.  Amenities like Coffee Shops, Free Wifi, and ample in-store seating allow people to spend more time at the garden centre by increasing the reasons for going there.  Need to get some writing done? Bring your laptop and work from the garden centre cafe.  Chances are the more time you spend at the garden centre, the more money you will spend.

Deals

The only thing better than shopping, is buying something on sale.  Gardening can be an expensive pastime.  One way to save money is to purchase plants and supplies in sale.  As the seasons change, and stocks run low, garden centres often seek to clear out inventory.  Sometimes these promotions are advertised, but often they are not.  Visiting the garden centre a few times each month is the best way to find deals.

Now you have 5 reasons to visit the garden centre today.  You will be glad you did.

Matt

About Plantola

Plantola makes it easy to catalog and share your garden with friends and businesses, like your landscaper, or local garden center. Like the look of that tree down the street? Take a picture and share it with your plant guy. Captivated by the rose growing in your friend’s garden? Look it up while you are at the garden center. Plantola lets gardeners spend more time in the garden, and less time looking for plants.  For more information visit www.plantola.com.

Download the Plantola iPhone app