Ideas for Getting Your Garden Center Online at No Cost

April 2, 2020
Category: Marketing Ideas

The garden industry is booming according to this Yahoo news article. “It’s just the sheer volume… We’re catching up with a massive surge.” While this is great for business, it presents challenges for safety.

Social media chatter is full of ways garden centers are coping with the restrictions that have been put in place because of COVID-19. Weeding through it all takes time, though, so…

We’ve compiled a list of the different ideas we’ve seen so far to help you keep your garden center business open (Or properly distanced!) and to give you ideas for getting your garden center online.

Please feel free to add your ideas in the Facebook comments to keep the list growing. We can all work together to get through this safely!

Online Ideas for Garden Centers

  • Promote Live hours on Facebook or Zoom for people to see plants. Customers can order for curbside pickup from live video while interacting with you in the greenhouse!
  • Offer curbside self-service.
  • Design self-service, on-site shopping that limits hours or items in some way, and facilitates shopping with little-to-no employee contact.
  • Start selling on Facebook Marketplace.
  • Offer home delivery with a minimum order or pre-packaged boxes (Full Sun Mix, Vegetable Garden Mix, Spring Bloomers for Your Yard, etc).
  • Host a webinar where you demonstrate and market “planter kits.” Or just advertise these kits as a delivery option. Some fun ideas include Pizza Kit (basil, oregano, tomatoes, peppers), Garden Kit (squash, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, herbs), and Pollinator Kit (butterfly bush, coneflower, phlox, salvia, milkweed, lantana, black-eyed Susan, fennel, sage, borage).
  • Curate Mystery Boxes: Sun varieties, shade varieties, house plants, etc. These can be ordered online for curbside pickup or home delivery.
  • Create a menu of available plants that your customer can fill out for you to pull and have ready for curbside pickup. This can be fully online (like a Google Form), or it can be a printable document that can be written on, scanned, and attached to an email.

Other Online Garden Center Sales Considerations

You may not have to worry about as many of your traditional retail tasks as usual, but do expect to dedicate a lot of time to social media marketing and hand-picking plants for customers

Make sure to be on Facebook and Instagram every day. Show off pictures of your displays, answer customers’ questions, build relationships, and remind them that you are still open. Customers will appreciate anything you offer and they are aware that the safety measures put in place benefit both sides. (They won’t take your new protocols personally.)

Whether you are doing curbside pickup or delivery, make sure you have the technology set up to accept electronic payments. Being able to pay online is ideal, but even taking credit card numbers over the phone is better than handling cash. 

If you do need to do in-person transactions at the cash register, put a small table in front of the register to keep the customer and your sales associate properly distanced. CVS pharmacy also added a bottle of disinfectant wipes to allow customers to clean the credit card machine.

Know Your Restrictions

Whatever you do, err on the side of caution. Keep in mind that there are lots of different restrictions out there at national, state, and local levels. We are required to follow the most stringent rules that apply to our business address. 

Even though greenhouses and nurseries are covered nationally, if your local government says you have to be closed to the public, then you are limited to whatever they will allow. That might mean no customers coming into your store (but pickups and deliveries are ok), or it means you can’t even be on the roads.

However, if there is a way to keep your plants moving (safely), then get creative and try different options to see what works best for your customers!

Don’t forget to share your ideas on Facebook to help others across the country weather this storm!