HOW-TO: STARTING AN ONLINE SHOPIFY PLANT BUSINESS
Photo by Scott Webb: https://www.pexels.com/photo/five-assorted-color-cacti-311458/
Plants, whether they’re lush flowers or healthy shrubs, bring both color and life to an otherwise dull home. If you love plants, starting your own plant business can be both profitable and fun. Not only will you get to share your passion with the world, but you’ll also find new purpose through serving a group of customers who are looking to provide joy to their homes and beautify their spaces.
You might have noticed it yourself but searches for "purchase plants online" spiked in the middle of March 2020, just as retailers and greenhouses around the country were closing their doors in the face of COVID's initial wave. This has shown us that there is a huge opportunity out there.
This guide is going to walk you through everything you need in order to get started with your own plant online business.
Source your plants
There are so many options for sourcing plants for your online plant business. You can buy them wholesale from a nursery or garden center, or you can buy them retail from a nursery or garden center (or even Home Depot). Or, grow them yourself.
Each of these options has its pros and cons, so let’s break down each one:
Buying wholesale or from plant nurseries
The biggest advantage of buying plants wholesale is that it saves time — it takes a long time to find the right plants for your store and then negotiate a price with the supplier. When you buy wholesale, someone else has already done this work for you! So if you don’t mind paying more than retail prices and have limited time, this can be an easy way to get started with your online plant business. It’s also great for those who do not have the space or the time to plant.
One disadvantage is that it may take longer for the plants to arrive at your location and they may not arrive in good condition because they've been sitting around too long before being shipped out. Another disadvantage is that some nurseries don't allow returns on their products if there's any damage during shipping.
Growing your own plants
The pros are that you can control the quality of your products. You know exactly how they were grown, what fertilizers were used, and how they were treated throughout the growing process.
You can choose what type of plants you want to grow. If you want to focus on selling only certain types of plants, then this is possible with home-grown options.
However, it comes with a cost. A lot of time will be spent on maintenance and caretaking. This may include watering, fertilizing, monitoring growth rate, weeding, etc., which can be a hassle if you're busy with other things in life.
Costs associated with building or buying space for plant growing (if not using an existing area). For example, if you don't have a greenhouse or space outdoors where you can grow plants during the winter months, then this can be an issue when trying to find suitable locations for winter storage and/or keeping them alive until springtime when it's time for them to go back into production again.
Choose a platform where you can sell your plants online
There are many options available when it comes to selling your plants online. The most notable ones are the following:
Your Own E-Commerce Site – This is the most popular way of selling plants online. It gives you full control over your store and allows you to set up a website in any theme or layout that you like. You can also choose whether or not you want to integrate payment gateways and other third-party services into your store.
You can also set up your store on a trusted and easy-to-use platform like Wix, Shopify, or BigCommerce is the most proven way to sell anything online. You can maintain a fair amount of control over your brand and sales by using these platforms.
Online Marketplaces – One of the biggest advantages of using a marketplace like eBay or Etsy is that they will market your products for you, meaning that they will drive traffic to your store through search engines and social media platforms. However, they also take a cut from each sale that you make.
Social Media Platforms – Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can be great places to sell your plants online because people already spend hours every day on them looking at pictures, videos, and posts from their friends and family members (and even celebrities).
Highlight your products in the best way
Take, edit and upload amazing product photos. Make sure to write compelling, informative, and well-written product descriptions.
Make sure that the photos you use are high quality. You can use a professional photographer or hire someone who is experienced with photography. If you decide to take the photos yourself, make sure that you have proper lighting and that your camera is not facing any glare or shadows. Also, make sure that your background is clean and uncluttered so that it does not distract from the product itself.
Get creative! Try different angles, different backgrounds, and different styles of photography. There are so many ways to shoot your products; just keep experimenting until you get it right!
Don't forget about videos! Videos are a great way for customers to see how something works or looks in real life. Video is also a great way for customers to see if something fits them or fits their needs before purchasing it online (such as clothing).
Have fun and enjoy yourself while doing this! Take pride in what you do because it will shine through in all aspects of your business (customer service, product presentation, etc.).
Also make sure that you write compelling, informative, and well-written product descriptions. Make sure it’s factual too! Don’t make claims you can’t prove.
You can also use video tutorials on how to plant the plant or any other information that would help people decide whether they want to buy from you or not.
Set up a fair pricing strategy
It is important to set reasonable prices when selling plants online. Pricing would be a critical component of marketing strategy.
The best way to find the right price for your plants is by looking at similar items on other websites. You can then use this information to set a price that will work for you.
Determine how much consumers are willing to spend.
The first thing you should do is conduct market research. Find out how much other nurseries charge for comparable plant kinds and how much they sell them for. This may not be applicable if you're selling a rare or uncommon kind. If a number of nurseries sell comparable species, though, you may get a fair notion of how much people are ready to pay for them.
Set your prices at least 20% higher than wholesale.
When pricing your plants online, you will need to include the cost of manufacturing. To calculate this figure, add up all the costs involved in growing the plant and then divide by the number of plants you have left at the end of the season.
Keep in mind that no matter how beautiful or exotic your plants are, if they are out of budget for your customers, they will not purchase them.
Set up your online store
There are many steps you must complete before you can begin selling plants online, depending on the selling platform you choose. We've outlined everything you'll need to do to start selling online below.
Make an account
Visit the website of your chosen eCommerce platform and sign up. Once you have chosen your preferred eCommerce platform, simply follow the steps on the website to set up an account. The process should be straightforward and shouldn’t take too long. If you already have an account with them, great! If not, no problem! Just follow their instructions and get started. Click here if you chose: Shopify or BigCommerce.
Select a domain name for your store.
You should select a short, catchy domain name that is likely to appeal to potential customers. This will make it easier for people to remember your store and find it again when they want more plants – or even just more information about what you offer! It can also help build trust with new customers by showing them that you are serious about your business and know what you are doing!
Select a theme for your store and customize it to mirror your brand.
There are many options available when it comes to choosing a theme for your store – so choose one that best suits your brand, values, and message.
These themes are our top picks for plant stores:
- Cascade Theme ($$): plant sellers who have a strong brand story.
- Artisan Theme ($$): for those who sell both products (like plants) and services (like plant styling).
- Editions Theme ($): a simple theme that helps highlight products
- Narrative Theme (free): if you want to focus on promoting a lifestyle image and only have a small catalog
You can continue to customize your online store as your business grows. If you're much better with plants than computers, Shopify Experts like the ones we have here at Webinopoly can help you optimize the aesthetics (design and layout) and performance of your business.
Packaging and shipping your plants
A significant portion of your costs could come from shipping and packaging, so keep this in mind when making your budget plan. Plants are quite fragile, especially when being shipped. Plants need to be protected from harm while also being maintained in good health.
Purchase a sturdy cardboard box that is large enough to hold your plant comfortably. You don't want the plant to shift around in the box or move around too much. Make sure the box has plenty of padding on all sides and top so that if it gets bumped along the way, there will be no damage done to your plant.
Use packing peanuts or newspaper as filler material between the plant and the sides of the box. This will help prevent movement during transit. Also, make sure that there are no gaps between the sides of the box and your plant's container — it should be snugly packed so there is no room for any extra air inside!
Enclose instructions with each order on how to care for your plants once they arrive at their destination. Some customers may be new to plant care and will need a bit of guidance on how to start. This is also helpful for rare plants.
Make sure to market your store
Marketing is the foundation of any successful business. Without marketing, it doesn’t matter how good your plants are, or how competitively you’ve priced them – if you haven’t got your marketing strategy just right, your customers are unlikely to even find your plants, let alone order them!
There are many different ways to market your online plant business, but one thing that all these strategies have in common is that they require investment. You can spend a little bit of money on marketing and hope for the best, or you can invest wisely in a long-term strategy that will help you grow your business and make more money over time.
Content Marketing: Content marketing involves creating content (blog posts, videos etc.) which helps people learn about your products or services without being overtly salesy. It also helps establish trust with potential customers so they feel more comfortable buying from you in future.
Digital advertising. Digital advertising includes placing ads on websites where relevant visitors are likely to click on them and visit your website or landing page (for example Google AdWords). You can set up Google AdWords campaigns for search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) ads that appear when someone searches for keywords related to plants or gardening supplies.
Social media marketing. Grow your audience on social media by using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms. You can even use Pinterest, which is mostly used for product discovery rather than direct sales. When you have an engaged audience, they will be more likely to visit your site or buy directly from you through social media.
Give customers a seamless experience.
If you're running your own plant business, you want to make sure that customers feel like they're getting a seamless experience when they shop at your online store. This means that they should be able to buy plants quickly and easily, and have their order arrive as expected.
A good way to do this is by making sure that you provide multiple, secure payment options and develop a proper order management process. If you go with Shopify, it will be so much more manageable to do this thanks to their checkout page, and Shopify Pay (which lets you accept payments from any device).
Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms out there because it makes it easy to manage orders and payments. With Shopify's built-in payment processing, you can accept credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, and PayPal with just one integration.
Shopify makes it easy for you to accept multiple payment methods by providing you with a checkout page that allows you to specify which payment gateways your customers should use for different types of transactions. For example, if you want to charge shipping costs on all orders, but also offer free shipping on some items or spend thresholds — this is easy to do on Shopify's checkout page.
HOW TO SELL PLANTS ONLINE: CHECKLIST
- Finalize what kind of plants to sell
- Determine where to source your plants
- Choose an online platform
- Take photos of your products
- Write product descriptions
- Price your plants and services
- Prepare your packaging and shipping materials
- Market your online store
Selling plants for a living may seem like only a dream to most people, but it’s actually an achievable goal. However, if you want to do it, you need to invest the time and energy into your career. You should think of it as a full-time job rather than just a way to make some extra money. If you are willing to put in the work and effort, you can definitely succeed. Use the steps outlined here as your guide.
WORK WITH US
If you're still confused about how to develop an online presence for your business or how to grow your brand, our Shopify Experts at Webinopoly can help.
We'll help you create a Shopify site that allows you to track your customers, sell art and establish an online brand.
Speak with one of our experts
Let’s start improving your business today! Just answer a few questions and our team will provide you with an overall assessment, a pricing estimate, and a project timeline to start.
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