People are increasingly shopping for succulents online, and those selling these attractive plants through the web are also gradually on the rise. Not to mention, a lot of them are making more-than-decent money selling succulent plants online. If you’re considering joining the bandwagon and grabbing a share of the market, you must know the ins and outs of the online succulent business.
To sell succulents online, set up your online shop on Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Harddy, etc. You can also create your own website and sell your succulents from there. Source and grow the right variety of succulents for your region and ship them properly, ideally bare-root and not potted.
Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about selling succulents online. If you’ve been growing and selling succulents locally for some time and are now considering taking your business online, this is the guide you need to read.
Succulents: A Brief Overview
Succulent plants, or just succulents, are plants with thickened, engorged, and fleshy parts. These parts are primarily leaves and stems that help the plant retain or store water in extremely dry weather. The word succulent is a Latin word that means sap or juice.
A succulent is not a cactus and certainly not just a novelty plant. The term succulent denotes a plant group that comprises plants of some extremely diverse forms, blooms, and colors. They are often grown for their unusually striking appearance and minimal care requirements.
The Ability to Thrive in Various Climates
There are multiple plant families, more than 25 of them, comprising succulent species, including Cactaceae, Aizoaceae, and Crassulaceae. These plant species are mostly found in low-rainfall, high-temperature areas, such as deserts.
The ability to grow well with minimal water sources, like dew and mist, makes succulents fit to survive in even the most horrid climates. This capability to thrive, however, would vary across species.
During winters, succulents can adapt themselves to the dry indoor air, thanks to the built-in water repositories. As far as staying put outside during cold weather conditions is concerned, it could be hard even for succulents.
The Two Broad Types
A succulent can be broadly categorized as hardy and soft. Hardy succulents can tolerate the winter frost and remain outdoors, even in freezing temperatures. They are ideal for outdoor, year-round growing.
The soft varieties, on the other hand, are not frost-tolerant. In other words, they grow better indoors. They can be grown and cared for outdoors during the day. When the sun sets and the temperatures drop, particularly during winters, you must take them in. When sunny, warm weather conditions make a return, you could take them back outside again.
If you ship succulent plants to extremely cold regions, you need to be sure about the type of succulent you’re sending across and the packaging.
Why Sell Succulents Online?
If you’ve already been selling succulents for a living at local craft fairs or farmers’ markets, you might wonder why you should take your business online. Particularly with all the groundwork needed to make the transition successfully. If you’re thinking on similar lines and sitting on the fence, here are certain benefits that’ll help you make up your mind.
The most significant benefit of moving your succulent business online is increased flexibility. In other words, specific dates and seasons won’t dictate your succulent plant sales. Thanks to the Internet and its open market nature, you may sell your succulents any time, any day of the year. Since you have this newfound ability to sell your plants 365 days a year, you can also afford to take days off as you desire.
For example, if you’re considering a long holiday with your family or friends or you need to spend some quality time with a loved one, intimate your customers through your site or any other platform about your non-availability. Let them know when you’ll be back or when shipping will resume so that they are not left guessing.
Little to No Inventory
Unlike a traditional market, you can make your succulent arrangements only when the orders have been processed. In other words, you need not make multiple arrangements for a particular market or fair and hope to sell them all.
Most likely, you’ll not be able to sell all your plants, at least not during every outing. And the ones that do not sell, of course, come home with you. The ones that return with you not just require a proper place to live in and continue growing, but they also have to be taken good care of so they stay in perfect condition for the next sale whenever that happens.
Buying Succulents to Sell Them
Unlike digital products, a succulent is a plant or a physical thing that cannot be created out of thin air. Therefore, to sell them, you either need to make them or buy them at a lower price and resell them for a margin. Even if you are considering making the plant from scratch, you’ll need mini plants or roots for seeding.
Succulents can be bought locally and also online. But since the objective is to sell them and not keep them for yourself, you must look for places that sell these plants for a relatively low price. In other words, look for wholesale succulent dealers.
- Mountain Crest Gardens: Mountain Crest Gardens offers a great selection of succulents at reasonable prices. They sell succulents for all kinds of arrangements, events, landscaping projects, etc. Not to mention, you can always grow the plants specific to your requirements. The best part is you need not be a retailer to procure the plants at dirt-cheap prices. However, you may have to buy a minimum quantity of them.
- Daniel’s Specialty Nursery: Daniel’s Specialty Nursery is another online shop for buying succulent plants wholesale. It is known for its precisely cut plants and prices. Though the scale at which the business operates is not on par with the competition, and you may end up waiting a bit for your succulents to arrive, it’s worth it at the end of it all. And you’ll realize that right after you open your package.
Other reliable places to buy succulents wholesale include Succulent Gardens, Sublime Succulents, and Simply Succulents.
Online Platforms to Sell Succulents On
There are more than a handful of places online to sell succulents. The following, however, are some of the more popular and reliable platforms.
Facebook is more than just a place to connect with friends and peers. Over the years, the social networking site has evolved into a robust marketplace of sorts. It’s a place where large businesses interact and engage in commerce with their followers. The social media site is also a place where many entrepreneurs launch and leverage their online businesses.
If you’re looking to sell succulents online, Facebook is a great place to start from. There are hundreds of succulent-selling groups on the website. You could join those groups, engage with the people there, and even post pictures of your succulents available for sale.
Kindly note, not all groups dedicated to succulents on the platform are set up for commerce. Some could have been created to share knowledge purely, experiences, tips, etc., about owning and growing the plant.
Succulents and Sunshine Community and World of Succulents Group, for instance, encourage their members to share their succulent plant gardening experiences, ideas, questions, concerns, etc. Succulent Marketplace USA, as the name suggests, is the place to buy and sell succulents.
Another popular group for succulent trade is Cactus-Succulents-Buy-Sell-Trade.
Facebook is not the be-all, end-all of online business. However, it is a solid platform to test the waters out, or know more about your buyers or get the pulse of the market.
Etsy is an online platform that lets sellers and buyers connect. Etsy focuses purely on the trade of handmade products, vintage items, art, and crafts. Apparently, succulents fall under the handmade goods category, and there are hundreds and thousands of people buying and selling succulents and other plants on the site.
To sell succulents on Etsy, you are required to set up an Etsy shop. You need not have a license to set up an Etsy business. However, based on the country, state, or city you live in, you may need a license to sell items and receive payments through the platform legally.
The Etsy online shop is customizable and comes with complete e-commerce capabilities. Since it’s purely online, there are no overheads, zero time, and money needed to sell products via craft fairs and consignment stores. It’s much easier to touch base with buyers from all across the globe.
There are no costs attached to setting up an Etsy shop, but Etsy does charge its sellers fees for items listed and sold on the platform. The listing fee is around $0.20 per item. If the item sells, a transaction fee of 5% is charged.
The percentage fee is levied on the product price, gift-wrapping, shipping, and other charges that could be applicable to your product.
If you need tips or inspiration to sell succulents on Etsy, check this video out:
And if you’d like to know alternatives to Etsy, here are a few:
- Amazon: It is the most popular online marketplace where sellers from any part of the world can sell any item conceivable.
- eBay: Like Amazon, eBay also facilitates the trade of various goods. It also provides the option to auction items.
- Poshmark: Though an online marketplace dedicated to fashion and clothing items, you can put your handmade succulents up for sale on the platform, too, like this listing.
- Mercari: Mercari is a Japanese e-commerce firm that caters to buyers based in both Japan and America.
Amazon Handmade is Amazon’s direct answer to Etsy. Though it does not have its own web domain yet. Amazon Handmade is a serious sub-Amazon platform for artisans or people who like to make and sell things.
Because Amazon is such a massive online store, you’ll have no problems finding the right people for your plants. But because the platform is intertwined with Amazon, the process to reach out to the right people could be a tad difficult, or putting your item up for sale on the platform won’t be as simple as how things work on Etsy.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of tutorials online, which help you learn the ins and outs of buying and selling on the platform.
Harddy is an online marketplace dedicated to selling succulents and other plants. It provides the platform for succulent plant vendors to list their plant creations. To stand out from the crowd and truly offer a unique experience to its stakeholders, particularly buyers, Harddy lays a major emphasis on customer service.
Harddy takes pride in being a succulents and cacti marketplace that offers the best possible service to its users before, during, and after an order. Unlike other marketplaces, Harddy works directly with its vendors and their nurseries, and plants directly ship from there. So, if you have a succulent plant nursery of your own and would like help with listing and selling your plants, get in touch with Harddy.
Your Own Website
Starting your own e-commerce website may not seem like the sanest thing to do, particularly with the multiple, ready-to-use e-commerce platforms at one’s disposal. But there are solid reasons why you should not take the traditional route and venture out on your own.
Compared to selling your succulents through Etsy and Amazon, you may be slow to reach out to your target audience. It might also seem not worth your while at times. But once you crack it, it could be extremely fulfilling and rewarding. Not to mention, there is no looking back thereafter.
If you’re not a tech-head or a web developer, designing a website is pretty much next to impossible. But with the plethora of ready-to-use website building tools, plugins, etc., available, creating a site and taking it online has never been as easy as today.
Services such as Shopify, for instance, help you set up your own online shop on your URL in no time. Website builders such as WordPress and Squarespace let you build a working site within hours.
Talking about the benefits of selling succulents through your own website, there are primarily two major advantages:
- All the revenue you generate through your sales is yours to keep. You need not pay anybody any commission or fee.
- You are not competing with other sellers or products on your site. This means potential buyers will not get to see products from other sellers, or there will be no distractions or steering away from your offerings.
If you are keen on setting up your e-commerce site but are not quite sure, take some inspiration from sites such as Mountain Crest Gardens and other similar ventures. Before making it reasonably big, they all had their hard times. Knowing what those were and how the founders fought through them could offer you some invaluable online business lessons.
The platforms mentioned above introduce you to the marketplace. But that’s not even getting started with the business. In other words, put in the effort and time to sell your succulents or increase your chances of selling them. To do so, start with getting your product listings right. Here are the basic things to do:
- Upload a few, at least a couple, high-quality pictures of your plant.
- Create product descriptions for each item.
- Set the right price.
- Clearly state the shipping process and costs to the buyer.
Make sure the descriptions are unique and high-quality, as incomplete descriptions or product briefs fraught with spelling errors and poor grammar could reflect poorly on your product. If you think you need a professional writer, hire one.
Marketing and Promotion
For any business to truly succeed, it needs to get a lot of things right. Perhaps, the two biggest things are the actual product and marketing.
If you’re not spreading the word out, your succulent business is going nowhere. And your beautiful plant arrangements will not change that in the slightest.
There is no marketing template as such. Based on the product or service, marketing techniques and strategies vary. And since succulents are fairly niche, they cannot be marketed like consumer electronics or restaurants. A novel approach is required.
The marketing techniques should be devised to get potential buyers familiar with your offerings and brand and stand out and insulate yourself from the competition, especially the big names.
Though the methods and strategies discussed below cater more to people looking to set up their own succulent e-commerce website, others looking to sell their offerings through third-party sites can also take notes.
Put User-Generated Content to Good Use
The succulent community is not a massive group, and a blanket marketing approach may not work with them. Though Google Adwords and Facebook ads can help generate that initial traction, you’ll have to leverage the community to take your business to greater heights, especially if you’re not keen on overspending on promotions.
Unlike other products, the succulent business model does not fulcrum around pricing alone. It’s the actual plant that does the majority of the talking.
To let your plants do the talking, you’ll have to resort to content marketing. In other words, you’ll have to solicit reviews and pictures of plants from your existing customers to share them on various platforms.
User-generated content has been the backbone of several niche businesses in the past, and it will continue to remain so. There’s an element of honesty and innocence in user-clicked pictures that high-production product shoots cannot replicate.
Therefore, ask your customers to send you an honest review, a star rating, and a picture of their plant in the wild. Let them know you’ll be using their pictures for marketing purposes. Once you have permission to use the reviews and images for promotion, launch social marketing campaigns using user-sent content.
The photo evidence of past customers liking your succulents can determine how many more you end up selling in the future. And you attain all of this leverage without much effort and spend from your side. The only things you need to do ensure when working with user-created content are:
- Wisely using the pictures to demonstrate how your existing customers are using your plants in their everyday lives.
- Making sure the images are real and authentic. You will look stupid if you misinterpret a stock photo for a real-world image and base your marketing campaign on that misconception. Fortunately, distinguishing a stock image from a user-generated image is not that difficult. You need not even resort to any serious inspection. The differences are apparent at a glance.
- Mention the time and season during which the images were taken.
To encourage submissions, incentivize your buyer through holding contests. For instance, you could announce the opportunity to participate in a monthly $200 prize draw for customers who submit their images.
Collect Customer Feedback
Focus on collecting customer reviews and feedback. You may leverage them for both your external and internal marketing efforts. You could solicit customer thoughts by inviting them to take a short survey, which could contain questions on why the buyer chose to buy the plant from you.
These surveys could be taken before and after the purchase. Once the order is placed, and after the product has been shipped and received by the buyer. The best part is these surveys are automated, which means you could focus on other aspects of your business while the survey requests go through and rich, relevant information rolls in.
Pricing and Shipping Your Succulents
If you’ve been growing succulents as a hobby and are not familiar with the commerce side of things, you may make errors with your prices initially. Do some market research and keep your margins reasonable to get the pricing correct right away. Not getting the price right could also mean selling the product for a loss or extremely slender profits.
When putting a price tag on your succulents, take the following costs into account:
- Money, time, and effort put into making the plant
- Transportation to procure the supplies and ship the finished product
- Setting up a shop online (Etsy or own domain, for instance)
- Plant maintenance
- Plants that do not sell and wither away
As far as packing and shipping your succulents to your buyers go, there are different ways to do that. The succulent arrangements, packaging materials used, etc., determine how good a job you do with shipping. There’s a general perception that complete succulent arrangements cannot be shipped, which is not true. But it’s certainly not recommended.
Succulents are fleshy plants and can. Therefore, they can survive long travels without breaking a sweat. However, it’s always recommended not to put stress on the plant during transportation or take its toughness for granted.
Ideally, the succulents should be shipped bare-root so that there’s no scope for rotting of the plant – which is quite possible when the plant is shipped potted. With zero air circulation and a dark environment, potted plants could get infested with bacteria and fungi during transit.
There’s also the issue of soil spillage with potted succulents, along with etiolation. Etiolation basically denotes a process wherein plants grow in partial or zero light and develop weak leaves or stems as a result.
Cater to Your Customers
A functioning, capable customer service is important if you want your buyers to feel good about their purchase and keep coming back for more.
If the stream of customers flowing in is too many to handle by a single individual, set up a team purely for handling customer queries, doubts, and concerns. The most successful succulent sellers online or any business, for that matter, have strong customer service.
For your online succulent business to progress and prosper, you need positive reviews. Such good reviews come only from happy customers, and to keep your customers happy, you should not just do a fabulous job with the product, but you must also kill it with your pre-sales assistance and after-sales support.
Keeping customers happy could mean putting up with aggrieved or angry buyers, entertaining refund or replacement requests, etc. Indulging in all of this might hurt, especially your bottom line. But, on the other hand, you would slowly amass goodwill and build a strong reputation, which would help your business financially and otherwise in the long run.
Whether you’re selling succulents through Amazon, Facebook, or your own website, do not undermine the importance of proper and consistent marketing. Suppose you’re not taking the traditional route or are hellbent on making your plants available only through your website. In that case, you’ll have to put double the effort and time to create visibility and traction for your succulents.
Selling succulents online and making a living out of it is certainly possible, but you’ll have to put in the work. And to get through all the hardship, you should be absolutely passionate about succulents. If planting and nurturing succulents don’t provide you a sense of joy and satisfaction, and money is the only motive behind growing the plants, you’ll fall out sooner rather than later.