Plant nurseries are not like most businesses because of the products they sell, and the way customers buy them. In this blog post, I will explain why this is and I will share 5 overlooked but powerful features that every nursery website should have to be successful. These 5 tips have been learned over 9 years and they show no signs of becoming outmoded anytime soon. Each one of these tips is designed to get nurseries more sales and encourage more people to visit them in person.
Why Plant Nursery’s Are Not Like Most Other Seller Of Products
As consumers, we never stop to appreciate or question why a product is sold the way it is. But as a nursery owner, consider the products that you sell, and their uniqueness compared to other industries and their products.
For example, Lavender has several varieties, but all these varieties can be grown or sold by anyone. Nobody says I want X brand of Lavender for example. This makes this plant and almost all other plants a commodity, where price is the only distinguishable factor. Now, of course, your stock may be better kept but in Tasmania, most nurseries all buy from the same suppliers.
Now in terms of differentiating yourself from your competition, this is not ideal. But when it comes to an online presence it represents an opportunity that can be capitalised on to sell to more customers.
Comparing Selling Plants To Other Products
To elaborate, compare the nature of stock that a nursery has, with that of a car dealer or a seller of mobiles. Both of these product categories are defined by big players like Toyota and Apple.
When people search for these products, they might search for “Toyota Utes” or “top 5 sedans”. All car dealerships sell cars. But if a customer wants a Hilux not all dealerships are going to stock it. These dealerships are then going to have a hard time selling the prospect on a substitute.
But with a nursery, if a customer searches “top 5 plants for summer 2017″, every plant that is recommended is a plant that you can stock and likely do stock. A nursery cannot be excluded from stocking a certain variety of strawberries or lavender. So, the deciding factor is which nursery can get in front of a customer’s eyes first, and at a reasonable price. For this reason, a properly designed website that provides the greatest visibility in search results can be a great way to boost sales.
Its for this reason that the following 5 tips on what every nursery website should have are so powerful and effective; because they are designed to maximise visibility in search results and to deliver a better experience to the customers than your competitors.
1. Complete & Up-to-date Stock Lists
For some nurseries, it can seem daunting putting your stock list online for fear of being undercut or copied by another competitor. This is a common concern not only for plant nurseries but for a lot of other industries. But the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
This is because when you put your stock list online, every plant on that list becomes an opportunity to show up in a customer’s search for that plant.
2. Niche Stock
Almost every nursery for business reasons or personal interest likes to stock some uncommon or unusual plants. If not just to see how they sell. But it’s likely that when you list these plants on your website, anyone in your local area that searches for them after seeing them on TV, for example, is going to land on your site.
3. Interstate Customers
4. Including Both Common & Latin Plant Names
This is another fantastic opportunity to seize. Including both Latin and common plant names allows you to double the number of search results that your business can appear in.
In addition, most Nursery’s do not include both common and Latin plant names in a consistent fashion. This gives you an even greater opportunity to get your business in front of more potential customers in search results.
5. Email Mailing Lists & Funnels
Most businesses overlook email marketing now because they view it as being redundant due to social media. But platforms like Facebook are increasingly limiting the visibility of posts made by business pages. This is particularly true for posts that are promotional related.
In contrast, when you integrate an email sign up list on your site your able to build a list of customers that you can reach at any time, for free.
You can then take advantage of the seasonal nature of plants by creating a funnel that email subscribers are placed in. In other words, you write 1 email for each season, and then every time a season starts, an email is automatically sent to each of your email subscribers letting them know its time to buy fruit trees etc.
To get even more organised, you can also send reminders automatically via text message.
Closing Thoughts & The Return On Investment
Investing in a nice website for your nursery can be one of the best returns on investment you can make. It’s easy to dismiss that statement but consider that the average business updates their website every 3 years.
If you spend $1000 on a simple site, and you pay $109 a year to have the website hosted, you’re looking at a lifetime cost of $1327.
So each year the website needs to result in an increase in sales of $442 per year to break even. Now there is every chance that you might have an outlier that buys more than that in one visit. But let’s say that the average plant price is $14, and each customer buys an average of 4 plants for their visit so that the average spend is $56 per customer.
So, 8 extra customers, a year will result in a positive return on investment. If the cost of goods to you is 50% that’s still only an extra 16 customers a year to break even and to start to enjoy the investment in a site for your nursery.