ShadyGardens Blog

May 2, 2013

Selling Plants Online: How to Package Plants for Shipping

Filed under: how to, nursery, online, package, plants, sell, ship — shadygardens @ 5:38 pm

In our previous post, we explored your options for selling plants online. If you missed that post, you might first want to read Selling Plants Online: How to Do It.

Once you have decided what plants to sell online and where you will sell them, you must figure out how to best package the plants so they can reach their destination safely.

We have found the United States Postal Service to be the best fit for our shipping needs, but you might prefer UPS or FedEx. No matter which carrier you choose, every package carrier is harsh on packages sometimes. It is your responsibility as the seller to package your plants safely to protect the plant.

When shipping perishable items such as live plants, it is imperative to use a quick shipping method such as USPS Priority Mail or UPS ground which both take about 3 days to reach their destination. By the way, if you choose to ship with USPS, they offer free shipping materials for shipping with Priority Mail.

Shipping plants bare root is fine during the dormant season, but I prefer to ship plants with the soil ball intact. This means less transplant shock for the plant, and it is important that mail order plants arrive healthy and still moist to insure the plant will adjust quickly to its new home. Shipping the plant with soil ball enables shipping year round, so I am not limited to shipping only during the dormant season.

The plants you decide to sell will be up to you. Once you’ve settled on what to offer, the following steps will help to insure your success as an online seller:

  1. Prepare the plant for shipping by watering it thoroughly and allowing it to drain. 
  2. Prune away any unsightly stems prior to shipping. 
  3. Make sure all plants are labeled, especially if your customer has purchased more than one plant. 
  4. Remove plant from the pot carefully to avoid damage to the plant and its root system. 
  5. Shake off any loose soil but leave soil around the roots. This will cushion the roots and help roots stay moist during shipping.
  6. Wrap soil ball with a few sheets of newspaper and then with plastic or just do what I do and insert the paper-wrapped soil ball into a recycled plastic bag and tie it up completely.
  7. Include in the package growing instructions for the plants you are shipping, whether it is a general planting instruction sheet or detailed to fit the individual plant. By doing this you will save the buyer some time and they will appreciate the way you do business. Also, it will cut down on phone calls and emails asking you questions about growing preferences for the plant. 
  8. If the plant has tall stems wrap the topgrowth in a few sheets of newspaper to cushion them and also to protect them from tangling with the other plants in the package. 
  9. Securely attach the plant to the box by taping the rootball into the box. This will prevent slipping around and breaking of the stems. Taping the rootballs to each other as well as to the inside of the box will help to keep any sliding from occurring. 
  10. Enclose any shipping papers you intend to include – I include a cover letter thanking the customer for their order. This makes sure they have our information so they can purchase from us again. Any personal information about your company just helps the customer feel connected to you.
  11. Securely tape the package closed using package tape. 
You are now ready to ship the plants to their new home.

Check back soon for our next installment of the series on Selling Plants Online: Shipping Methods.

March 28, 2013

Selling Plants Online: How to Do It

Filed under: amazon, ebay, gardens, nursery, online, plants, sell, Shady, ship, walmart, website — shadygardens @ 1:18 pm
Sample of Plants shipped
 from Shady Gardens Nursery
These days, almost everyone is looking for a way to make money online. And if you are a gardener, you might have considered selling plants online.

I’ve done just that for several years. Since I frequently am asked how I ship shrubs, I thought I’d reveal some of my secrets. I don’t fear competition, and I enjoy helping someone who might need their own way to make money as much as I did when I started.

It takes quite awhile to receive traffic to your own website. You might consider trying to sell your plants on an established site first, like ebay. I started out by selling my plants at auction on ebay. Later I opened my own ebay store. Selling plants on ebay was surprisingly lucrative for me at first. This went on for a couple of years, until a few sellers ruined it for everyone else by selling their shrubs too cheap. Don’t undervalue your merchandise. You will never make any money if you sell everything at far less than it is worth. That’s why those sellers are no longer selling their plants on ebay. They put themselves out of business right after they ran everyone else off ebay with their undercut prices. Set your items at a fair price that is not only reasonable for interested buyers, but fair to you. Consider the total cost of growing the plant, the time involved in packaging the plant, and also the cost of supplies and actual shipping. Your time is worth some money too.

I sell plants on Amazon also, from time to time. But there again we must compete with the sellers who are out to undercut everyone else. Also, selling on Amazon is not quite as easy as ebay for a first-time online seller.

Although you might end up building your own website as I did, selling your plants on other established sites can give you the experience you need. Ebay will advertise, and they will help bring buyers to your listings, so you won’t have to.  If you’ve never bought anything on ebay before, I recommend you log on and do that now. That way you’ll learn how ebay and paypal both work. Before doing that though, think about a unique user name related to your new business idea. My user name is ShadyGardens, but you should make yours say something about you or more importantly what you sell. Something catchy or cute is always nice.

Don’t offer a guarantee on your plants beyond delivery. You are not Walmart and you cannot replace plants because the gardener who purchased from you did not properly care for the plants. And while we’re on the subject of Walmart, if the plants you want to sell can be bought at Walmart, there’s no need to even start. No one can compete with Walmart on price. They sell items much cheaper than you can, because they deal with huge volume. Grow and sell plants that aren’t easily found somewhere else, and you will make money.

Check back soon to learn how I package plants for safe shipping. In the mean time, check out our feedback on ebay and Shady Gardens Nursery online store.



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