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Many ideas are coming up now and growers are trying many new routes to market whilst the normal outlets are in lockdown; here are just a few:
(updated Friday 24 April)
Plant Pack sells and delivers plants that cannot be sold at usual volumes due to lockdown, and delivers them direct to peoples’ homes in London. Our delivery partner is First Mile- an office recycling business using its fleet to support other businesses during coronavirus. Every day, we have 4 vans dedicated to delivering Plant Packs via contactless delivery. We have lots of customer interest and are looking for new stock! If you have any products that are still in good quality but may not be sold otherwise, we can sell it and then place an order and come to collect it before delivery. Our customers are asking for herbs, bedding plants, and vegetables if you have any surplus or some you’d be able to sell to us. Please get in touch if we can be of use!
Thanks, Miranda firstname.lastname@example.org
Having seen the difficulties faced by garden centres, wholesalers, and growers due to Covid-19, a group of us have partnered with First Mile to support in e-commerce and delivery of plant stock.
We know that demand is high. Our solution will provide a delivery service to boost business in the short term, ensure stock isn’t wasted and that people in isolation can enjoy the plants before things (hopefully!) get back to normal.
First Mile are offering vans and warehouses, and are able to receive large deliveries of stock and deliver to peoples’ homes within the M25. They also have an e-commerce platform (on Shopify) where they can set up plant SKUs. As their normal business has been disrupted, they’ve been working with new partners such as Penguin books, Abel & Cole and Delphis cleaning products to cover their costs and continue running.
Any stock that is difficult for you to sell in current circumstances could be sold on their site (perhaps simple bundles e.g. ‘Veg Box: selection of 5’). You could then decide what to put in those boxes.
We are testing the model at the moment and are looking for garden centre/grower partners.
To participate, we’d set up a call to discuss:
Personally, I’m working pro bono basis to build this initiative and support businesses facing difficulty during the pandemic.
Do let me know if this is of interest or if you’d like to hear more. I’d be happy to have a quick chat on the phone to talk it through!
All the best,
(updated Wednesday 22 April)
The information on direct marketing is continuing to accumulate and here is a contribution from Derek Taylor of Kirton Farm Nurseries which he has developed from the scheme described in notes circulated previously on the recent Mailchimp email: He says “If anyone wants to lift any of this info, or info from our website to pass on to others please feel free. This has been an astonishing experience, I can’t believe we have come so far in such a short time. Hopefully a few others can quickly take this approach up too. Don’t hang about, it will be far less effective once the centres open up again. You can shift a huge amount of stock, we could have done many times more in just the local area.”
A suggestion from Derek Taylor of Kirton Farm Nurseries, Winchester that he has been using for 3 weeks:
“Hello all you lovely people,
Hope you are all coping ok in the current madness. Tough times for so many.
Just a quick update on the project we started up about three weeks ago which most of you will already know about. Last time I contacted most of you it was in the very early stages and wholly untested and unproven. I have included a few extra people on this email who might be interested to see the latest development s and may be able to spread the word about potentially reducing losses on wholesale grower nurseries.
It seems to have worked brilliantly for us, as a wholesale grower with very perishable crops all ready to roll at the beginning of the lockdown period. We had no internet sales access, very low staff levels (several staff furloughed to save costs because at this time of year we are still close to our OD limit and our market/income has been slashed), crops desperate to move off site and a need to get rid of the stock with as little expenditure as possible. This will not be a solution for everyone but it could be a more positive way forward for some, in comparison to dumping crops or selling parts of crops at knock down prices.
The overall guidelines for the project are attached and you can see a bit more if you go to our website www.kirtonfarm.co.uk.
It took us only 2 or 3 days to set up (you could get started in a day) and relies on getting hold of local volunteer coordinators to distribute household sized packs of plants (for us that was x6 one litre pots, mostly perennials) to each and every property in their patch. You give them a note (our version is attached) to go with each pack, which they leave at the gate/door. Coordinators may take on entire villages or estates with a team of helpers, all working under strict distancing rules, or may just take on their own street. (we suggested a minimum of 40 households for a delivery but we do bend this a bit). Mix of plants is complete pot luck (no pun intended). Once the ball is rolling the coordinators just come flocking, we have been overwhelmed by the interest.
It takes a certain amount of courage to just go for it but for us it has worked.
Main aims for us were;
Clear site completely of crops without a market, to be able to clear the production areas ready to produce the next crop for when lockdown relaxes.
Keep labour inputs to a minimum. – low staff levels mean there is little time to spare, crops are not tidied or tarted up at despatch, just mixed in 6’s into our growing trays, which get returned to us. Deliveries within 10 miles (mostly less). We just deliver to a drop off point selected by the coordinator and leave them to it. Despatch labour is well under half usual cost and delivery time/costs a fraction of the usual. We have used some volunteer labour on the nursery and for delivering the plants too, which helps keep costs down.
Keep extra material costs to a minimum. – The main additional cost over dumping is that we individual label all the plants. No packing materials.
Financial return – Hoping to reduce potential disastrous losses rather than make money. Anything that covered the extra costs involved is a plus. Actually looks like we could return close to half the usual wholesale return for the crops and with reduced despatch, transport and packing costs. Instant cash-flow improvement/results. Might not be enough on its own to save us, but it gives us a good fighting chance.
Potential PR boost – Not really of much use to us commercially, as we supply the retailers, not the public. The physical area of maximum PR benefit, is so small that it isn’t of much obvious use. However we have generated an enormous volume of good will in the local communities (see a very small selection of responses attached) that the feel good factor is a huge emotional boost to us and the staff. If this was taken up more widely across the country it could have a very big positive affect for the industry and highlight our plight.
Increased awareness of the growers plight – I have been on local radio (link on website) and BBC Panarama have filmed here for two days (may still end up on the cutting room floor!). Our MP has been a coordinator, distributing batches of plants in his community and apparently mentioned our plight in cabinet meetings. We have also generated a lot of sympathy and understanding of our very difficult position within the local population.
If anyone wants to lift any of this info, or info from our website, to pass on to others please feel free. This has been an astonishing experience, I can’t believe have come so far in such a short time. Hopefully a few others can quickly take this approach up too. Don’t hang about, it will be far less effective once the centres open up again. You can shift a huge amount of stock, we could have done many times more in just the local area.
Take care everyone,
We belong to a diverse community with a shared passion. We love our gardens and the challenges they bring – the trying and failing, the reward of planting your own, the compost and the mulch – above all we love getting our hands dirty. Having launched and grown a number of innovative companies we know there are parallels in business. Right now, it is likely that a significant amount of annual plants in the UK will have to be composted as a result of Covid-19 and it appears the ramifications may reach further into the future.
We believe that this would be a tragedy. Working in partnership with a network of independent garden centres and nurseries like you, we want to ensure this doesn’t happen. In collaboration with you we will develop a range of “bloom”, “plant” or “veg” boxes that help gardeners continue to do what they love and supports growers in overcoming the current challenges. Let’s roll up our sleeves and grow together. That is why we have launched muddy trowel gardening, delivered to your door
We make things easy to pick; we handle customer communication, drivers and any delivery hassle
We will ensure safe distance working at pickup
We are happy to agree minimum order commitments
SWIFT WITH CASH
We will arrange rapid payment terms so you can get cash in your bank quickly. A customer local to you places an order on muddytrowel.com for an assorted “bloom”, “plant” or “veg” box; We email you a picking sheet with ea list of plants that can make up the box (e.g. plant type, total value, colour, minimum number of plants)
The next day you pick the plants and place this with the picking sheet onto a dutch trolley or equivalent in a designated accessible area. The day after that we send a van to collect the trolley or crates and deliver them directly to the customer.
Instagram, Facebook: @muddy_trowel
website for HeyPlants
Hey Plants is a marketplace connecting local sellers with garden enthusiasts. We remove the hassle involved in getting your business online
In the short term we are hoping to assist nurseries during lockdown. We know a lot of businesses are being inundated with phone calls, manual payment processing over the phone, and delivery headaches. Our platform removes all this admin – and we can even help with arranging courier deliveries.
That said, our goal is to be a long-term solution for sellers. Think of it like UberEats, but for plants.
At present we have close to 3,000 pre-registered plant buyers and are in the stages of getting sellers on board before we go live.
Any sellers interested in selling on our platform please contact us email@example.com, or learn more about the platform here and a short video demonstration here.