Tampa, Florida. PLANTZ, a Tampa-based plant sales and leasing company, has successfully delivered quality indoor foliage plants to customers in each of the lower 48 states, Alaska, and Washington, DC. With a recent shipment to a customer in Wyoming, PLANTZ hit this important milestone in its quest to become the nation’s leading online distributor of indoor foliage.
In the Tampa Bay and Lakeland, Florida markets, the company provides plant leasing, landscaping, and horticultural services to more than 400 area businesses. In 2017, it opened its nationwide storefront at plantz.com to meet a growing demand for high-quality indoor plants.
“The business model was predicated on our ability to deliver a big green plant to a customer’s doorstep in Manhattan for less than the customer could buy it locally,” says Steve Stanford, president and chief green guru at PLANTZ. “Back in 2017, we figured it out and, to date, we’ve shipped 299 big plants in big boxes to customers in New York alone. So, that’s nearly 300 palm trees and unique tropical plants kicking out oxygen in homes and offices for our friends up north in New York.”
Trends are in the company’s favor. With most Americans spending more time inside than outside, bringing life to the interior environment is in vogue. Green plants pump oxygen in to the air, while filtering out airborne pollutants and volatile organic compounds. They can change the mood in a room, making people feel safer and more content. In offices, plants have been proven to reduce stress, improve productivity, and even reduce absenteeism. Aside from all that, they look nice and make people happy.
One of the keys to the success of PLANTZ has been its partnership with FedEx. “It’s obvious that our success depends on solid packaging techniques and our ability to land a plant on someone’s doorstep thousands of miles away,” said John Crandall, the manager at PLANTZ who is responsible for getting the plant safely to a customer. “We have experimented with several packaging methods and worked through some good ideas and some not-so-good ones,” continued John, “but once we put it on a FedEx truck, it’s up to them to get it to the customer in great shape.” And they have delivered. Since PLANTZ began its nationwide sales efforts, FedEX has delivered over 3,000 orders of plants and their supplies throughout the United States including a Giganta Plant to Juneau, Alaska – the company’s longest shipment yet.
There are headwinds for the company moving forward, especially since Amazon has expanded its plant selection.
“The Amazon marketplace is amazing,” admits Stanford. Most of our customers do require some post-sale coaching, and that’s where we excel. Not only do we source the best Florida- and Hawaiian-grown plants and help customers figure out which one will be best for them, but we also give customers the tools, advice, and frankly, the confidence to keep it alive and kicking. We didn’t feel like we could provide that level of customer support through Amazon, so we developed a buying experience on our site that feels like Amazon. Heck, we even use Amazon to take payments – we’re just not going to sell on their platform.”
Stanford’s contention might be proved out in the ratings and reviews it gets from its customers. Currently, it has 5-Star ratings for all its plants except two, which have 4.5-Star ratings.
“Customer reviews and comments are golden,” says Steve. “Our team is on it, and it shows in the post-sale comments customers leave on our site.” There have been setbacks. “Have we had a frozen Kentia Palm delivered in Minneapolis? Yes. Have we had a Fiddle Leaf Fig toppled in Texas? Yes. But a very high percentage of our plants are making it safely to their destinations. And if they don’t, we make it right with a replacement plant. I’m not sure if we’re lucky or good, but we’re just happy those funky deliveries are few and far between.”
The company hopes to double its online sales in 2019 by adding new plants, products, and supplies to its offering. So far, it’s off to a good start with both January and February sales outpacing last year.
“We’ll continue to source the best plants from Florida and Hawaii in support of our mission – to make people happy with plants,” Stanford added.