In our previous post, we explored your options for selling plants online. If you missed that post, you might first want to read Selling Plants Online: How to Do It.
Once you have decided what plants to sell online and where you will sell them, you must figure out how to best package the plants so they can reach their destination safely.
We have found the United States Postal Service to be the best fit for our shipping needs, but you might prefer UPS or FedEx. No matter which carrier you choose, every package carrier is harsh on packages sometimes. It is your responsibility as the seller to package your plants safely to protect the plant.
When shipping perishable items such as live plants, it is imperative to use a quick shipping method such as USPS Priority Mail or UPS ground which both take about 3 days to reach their destination. By the way, if you choose to ship with USPS, they offer free shipping materials for shipping with Priority Mail.
Shipping plants bare root is fine during the dormant season, but I prefer to ship plants with the soil ball intact. This means less transplant shock for the plant, and it is important that mail order plants arrive healthy and still moist to insure the plant will adjust quickly to its new home. Shipping the plant with soil ball enables shipping year round, so I am not limited to shipping only during the dormant season.
The plants you decide to sell will be up to you. Once you've settled on what to offer, the following steps will help to insure your success as an online seller:
- Prepare the plant for shipping by watering it thoroughly and allowing it to drain.
- Prune away any unsightly stems prior to shipping.
- Make sure all plants are labeled, especially if your customer has purchased more than one plant.
- Remove plant from the pot carefully to avoid damage to the plant and its root system.
- Shake off any loose soil but leave soil around the roots. This will cushion the roots and help roots stay moist during shipping.
- Wrap soil ball with a few sheets of newspaper and then with plastic or just do what I do and insert the paper-wrapped soil ball into a recycled plastic bag and tie it up completely.
- Include in the package growing instructions for the plants you are shipping, whether it is a general planting instruction sheet or detailed to fit the individual plant. By doing this you will save the buyer some time and they will appreciate the way you do business. Also, it will cut down on phone calls and emails asking you questions about growing preferences for the plant.
- If the plant has tall stems wrap the topgrowth in a few sheets of newspaper to cushion them and also to protect them from tangling with the other plants in the package.
- Securely attach the plant to the box by taping the rootball into the box. This will prevent slipping around and breaking of the stems. Taping the rootballs to each other as well as to the inside of the box will help to keep any sliding from occurring.
- Enclose any shipping papers you intend to include - I include a cover letter thanking the customer for their order. This makes sure they have our information so they can purchase from us again. Any personal information about your company just helps the customer feel connected to you.
- Securely tape the package closed using package tape.
You are now ready to ship the plants to their new home.
Check back soon for our next installment of the series on Selling Plants Online: Shipping Methods.