Selling plants online on a marketplace is a new trend. With the onset of eCommerce, gardeners don’t have to advertise their flowers and plants on social media but use a professional approach. Didn’t you think about starting your own plant marketplace? All you need is to drive sellers and get paid for offering your site as a selling platform. Or, if growing plants is your hobby, why don’t you start a plant online store? In this guide we’ll tell you why selling plants is a profitable business, how to start your business online with less effort and money, and what features a botanic eCommerce site should have to gain traction with customers.
Why do you need to start selling plants online? Some stats
- Pandemic has driven online plant sales in 2020 (Google Trends). More shoppers are accustomed to buying online.
- Plant-based food online sales increase yearly. They doubled in 2021 and showed a 27% growth – USD 7 billion (Good Food Institute).
- The average plant buyer spent $124.50 during the pandemic.
- Houseplants, succulents, tropicals were in the biggest demand in garden center sales in 2021 (Terrarium Tribe).
What to start with when going online selling plants?
Choose what to sell
Here are some ideas on a product selection to start with selling online:
- Indoor plants. It’s just the case of a hobby, a garden that you can grow at home. Or, if volumes are rather big, procure them from a wholesaler.
- Outdoor plants. Here, seasonality matters. Decide from the very beginning whether you will sell plants all year round or by seasons.
- Seeds. This option seems affordable and easy to start with. You can follow the West Coast Seeds example that delivers seeds and bulbs in Canada.
- Plant care products. Such products as soil, growing medium, fertilizer, or grow lights, can be sold in addition to live plants or be available as an upsell offer. GOAT Hydroponics is just the example of such a marketplace. It is run by Steve and Jen, a husband and a wife. The business was established back in 2019. Their physical store based in Canberra, Australia, attracts customers who are all from a variety of backgrounds. Some of their clients buy GOAT’s products to grow micro herbs for restaurants. Others produce plant-based deodorants with the items purchased at GOAT. This CS-Cart based online store follows the B2C model and sells quality garden accessories Australia-wide. Read more about the case.
- Garden equipment. We’ve got a request about transforming a catalog site into a full-fledged eCommerce solution from this company five years ago. At that time, it was mostly an offline business with no online distribution offering professional garden equipment globally. The main office wanted to get an online sales channel but that was not the wish of dealers. They resisted going online, preferring to rest on their accustomed way of offline sales. It took many efforts to persuade dealers to join the online platform. The eCommerce solution convenience was not that last point in opting for going online. Although the initial request was to launch as a marketplace, after studying the project background, we shortly found out that the online store solution with multiple storefronts will best suit the business needs. Dealers don’t need to run their vendor panels and keep using their ERP system synchronized with our solution. The store is now based on the CS-Cart Ultimate platform with the infrastructure managed by our hosting team, designed and customized for better dealer and ERP management. It was started in just three months since the first request and has expanded to 17 storefronts localized for each country. You can read more about it in our recent case.
- Home decor. Consider selling decorative plant pots, hanging planters or trays. It can be sold on its own or as an upsell product in addition to plants.
- Terrariums or kits. Your product can be a combination of plants and supplies to construct a terrarium at home.
- Plant-derived products. Why not grow plants and use products derived from them? Take an example of Terre Bleu. They grow lavender and offer lavender products like soaps, salves, and sprays. In one of our posts, we’ve just addressed the grocery marketplace features. You can find them there.
- Plant subscriptions. You can offer recurring plant shipments by subscription. If you doubt whether this sales model suits you, read this post.
- Floristry school. The Lacy Bird project began in Russia as a decor studio more than eight years ago: the founder’s wife, Sonya, decorated weddings and holidays with flowers. Since then, the couple have tried to sell flowers for 5,000 and 50,000 rubles each, opened offline outlets in Moscow and St. Petersburg, experimented with franchising, and eventually found their niche: only online, and only premium designer bouquets. In search of a place on the market, it was possible not only to create a style of bouquets demanded by customers, but also to turn the experience gained into a product: the brand has its own floristry school, it conducts master classes and plans to release a book on floral art.
You can grow plants by yourself or revert to a local nursery or a wholesaler. Each option has its pros and cons. Decide depending on your background and capabilities. Growing plants on your own can reduce the cost of a product, but you need to include the cost of equipment in the final price. Wholesaler is easier to operate with, but they may not have all the product range at a time. A local nursery provides the greatest choices for plant distributors and can offer a competitive price. Some nurseries are tailored to meet the online resellers’ demand. Consider Tennessee Wholesale Nursery. It allows using their product images and descriptions. Or, opt for Gro ‘n Sell. It has a large inventory of high-quality starter plants. Place your order in advance to receive a discount.
Choose your business model
By business model we mean an online store or a marketplace. If you are a gardener yourself who has a backyard nursery or just want to monetize the hobby, then a one-seller online store is your option. You can try the CS-Cart online store solution to speed up the process of going online. In case your aim is to be an intermediate who helps others to sell plants for a commission, then Multi-Vendor is the best fit. Regardless of your model, any of these solutions has beautiful design, all eCommerce site features embedded like shipping and payment methods and a hook-based architecture allowing for its flexible customization if required.
Where to sell plants online?
Apart from your dedicated site, you can choose to sell on Amazon, Etsy or AliExpress. But be aware of fees you will have to pay for listing your items. If you already have a store on one of these marketplaces, but are aspiring out to launch your own plant selling site, it is possible to connect your product base to your CS-Cart site and increase your online presence. Write to us to get details on Amazon or AliExpress connection opportunities.
How to customize your online plant store for better results
- Add a Calendar with delivery slots to the checkout page. Vendors will be able to establish time slots for customers to pick up their orders, and a quantity of how many orders they can successfully fulfill in that time slot.
- Import product base from a third-party service. Use product images and descriptions from a wholesaler/nursery CMS you partner with to reduce time and mistakes on content filling. Form SKUs. For example, SUC-ALO-SM can stand for a succulent plant of the aloe type and small size. You can integrate a specific plant CMS to add more features to the default CS-Cart functionality.
- Think about the subscription model to take a recurrent payment monthly. Our developers can do it for you.
Any idea you have about your online plant store or marketplace