How to sell plants online from your home

Wondering how you can make the most of your plant collection? Learn how to set up your own online plant business from the comforts of your home - from sourcing for plants to finding the right channel and marketing plants.
Darren T'ngFri Jul 02 2021

How to sell plants online from your home

It’s been a year since the botanic boom in Singapore. If you have a passion for plants and an ever-growing daily plant collection, it might just be time to think of how you can turn your hobby into a business (and make space for new plants at the same time). With Porchbuds you can now discover, buy and sell plants online - directly from the comforts of your home. Here’s everything you need to know about how to sell plants online - along with some tips to turn your hobby into a business.

  1. Sourcing for your plants
  2. Finding the right channel
  3. Listing and marketing your plants
  4. Be customer-centric

1. Sourcing for plants to sell online

Before you can even start selling plants, it is important to first decide what plants you would like to sell and at which stage - anything from plant cuttings to mature plants are now bought and sold daily.

Pro-tip: Every plant, especially variegated ones, are unique and take time to grow. When deciding where you should source your plants, remember to take into account what scale of business you would like to build. The smaller the scale, the lower the upfront cost.

Once you’ve decided what plants to sell, you will then need to decide how to source for the plants you sell online. There are 2 ways to do this - grow your own in a backyard nursery or purchase it wholesale from a local or foreign nursery.

Most hobbyists start with backyard nurseries and propagate to sell or simply sell some of their existing collections to make room for new ones. The next option is to buy your plants wholesale, which frees up your time to focus on marketing and reselling them in unique pottery or branding. That said, many nurseries will likely be interested in your ability to resell these plants and may provide you with discounted rates only with a certain level of bulk orders.

Pro-tip: Regardless of what or how you decide to get your plants, some trending plant genera include variegated Monsteras, Alocasias and Philodendrons.

2. Finding the right channel

Along with sourcing for plants to sell, you also have to decide how to sell your plants. The most intuitive options are to sell them through social media platforms, your e-commerce sites or simply through third-party vendors such as Porchbuds.

Should you decide to develop your own social media platform, you will likely have to worry about the competition from other pages and will have to build a big-enough audience to make a profit. One potential downside is that along with having to build an online presence, you will also have to build credibility - especially since selling out of your own social media platform means having no secured payment gateway or delivery provider.

If you develop your e-commerce site, you will be one step closer to building a reliable brand. However, you’ll need to worry about generating sufficient site traffic, subscription fees, and delivery charges to make a profit. A good customer acquisition cost typically ranges around 20-30% of the product costs. Once you factor in delivery and other additional charges, a healthy margin should be around 50-60% of the direct revenue from the plant. That said, many vendors turn to third-party companies like Shopee, Carousell and Porchbuds because they can reach thousands of people within a few hours.

When it comes to choosing a third-party option, it is important to consider the different platforms available to you. Will it be easier to get noticed on more mature platforms or newer platforms? Is the general user experience and marketing built to provide you quality audience on these platforms? While you aren’t limited to one website, each platform has its own best practices to get both the seller and the platform itself noticed, so you may want to dedicate yourself or concentrate on one platform first instead of spreading out to sell on several.

If you’re worried about getting noticed on any of the larger marketplaces, we have made it easier at Porchbuds for customers to browse and buy by adding plant-specific categories along with descriptions. In Porchbuds, we treat every plant as unique and enable plant sellers to list one plant as one listing. Beyond just plants, Porchbuds also enables sellers to list gardening supplies and by the hour services.

In addition to just allowing sellers to list, Porchbuds also allows sellers to decide between self-pickup or delivery options - enabling hobbyists to turn their passion into a business in a matter of minutes.

That said, when choosing a marketplace, make sure you’re aware of the restrictions - both in terms of community guidelines and regulations that come with shipping plants. These can vary by platform, plant species, and region.

3. Listing and marketing your plants online

Depending on the channel and platform you decide on, setting up your business can take anything from 30 minutes to a few weeks. That said, listing on a Platform like Porchbuds only requires less than 5 minutes and is as easy as signing up and adding the necessary descriptions and pictures to the plant listing.

Pro-tip: Pictures and descriptions matter a lot in the success of your listing or channel. It is important to pay attention to detail in ensuring an appropriate and consistent aesthetic is presented to your customer.

Once you have listings, or a business, up and running, it’s time to finally market your brand and get paying customers. To effectively create a marketing strategy, you might want to consider what makes your business unique - are you focused on selling variegated cuttings? Or bonsais? Or simply just gardening essentials? It is important to initially carve your niche regardless of your sales channel. In addition, you can also look to other successful plant sellers to see what makes them profitable and learn from them.

Depending on your channel, you will likely also have different considerations. If you’re starting entirely from scratch via your platform, you might want to consider reading a little more into tactics to gain more traffic and convert on-site.

4. Be customer-centric

At the core of it, we believe business is all about the community and by extension, your customers and partners. Whether you are starting your platform or joining a marketplace, once you have a loyal customer base, this will likely translate into revenue and, beyond that - relationships that can last for a long time. You can do this by creating community building features such as chat or review functions in your platform or simply list and market on Porchbuds so you can focus on growing and enjoying the company of other inspired plant parents.

Darren T'ngDarren is the Founder of Porchbuds, a technology-enabled plants and gardening marketplace aiming to make the world a greener place.See More Articles By Darren T'ng