Amazon is expanding further into live plant sales with the launch of its Amazon Plant Store. A quick look at the store shows the several major brands that are represented. Amazon users can buy plants in multiple categories, and in various pot sizes.
There is debate throughout the industry over how Amazon’s presence will affect growers who are looking to sell plants online, and whether it’s worth it to join the mega-retailer. Here’s what some industry members currently involved in online plant sales have to say.
• Jeff Dinslage, President of Nature Hills Nursery: “At the current time, Nature Hills does not work with Amazon or any other third-party seller. Our business model is direct to consumer. We like to think of ourselves as the experts in the online plant industry, and we have experts on staff who can answer consumer questions about plants and help our customers decide which plants will grow best in their local conditions. We don’t trust Amazon to know anything about plants, so we prefer to have direct access to our customers.”
• Kathleen Gagan, Owner of Peony’s Envy: “If you are not on Amazon, you are losing out on a huge marketplace where people can learn more about your business. I think you can have a presence on Amazon that helps people find you. We offer a limited number of products, and hope people will then come to our website to find out more about us. We don’t offer special pricing, and in fact may have higher pricing on Amazon and then direct people to our site. I think you have to look at Amazon as a high-end place to sell your product, rather than a place to sell your products cheaply. If you have a sale, keep it close to home so they are known only to your most personal customers.”
• Jim Eason, Founder of Eason Horticultural Resources: “The Amazon model seems to provide an easy on-ramp for retailers or manufacturers to start their direct-to-consumer process. However, not only is the preferred model (Amazon Prime) expensive for the retailer or grower, it either quickly or eventually evolves to a race to the lowest price scenario with producers and retailers pitted against each other. Furthermore, unless the type of plant involved is packaged properly, it may suffer a quality degradation if shipped via Amazon distribution. The resulting level of consumer satisfaction may result in a lowered product rating that you are not aware of until it is too late.”
• Sid Raisch, President of Bower & Branch: “We do not work with Amazon. It is not interested in becoming friends with us or any of its sellers, and it has a strong pattern of exploiting them to get what it wants, which is to sell everything to everyone. We know other growers and retailers do sell through Amazon. We fully expect to see an Amazon Basics brand of plants soon, although that is completely speculative on my part, but it is based on seeing what they’ve done with hundreds of other products. Many people have not yet learned about Amazon Basics, but if they go to Amazon.com and search for Amazon Basics, they’ll quickly understand the concept. The growers that are selling these items are fueling Amazon to grow a business, then pit growers against each other to find the low cost and consistent provider, cutting others out.”