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vds4

Do you like to get freebies with your online orders?

vds4
14 years ago

Hey guys,

While I, sometimes, browse this website, I have yet to post. I love gardening, and in my spare time I run a small backyard nursery. I sell hostas and other perennials and would like to try and sell online. We know that all of us love freebies. So, would it be a good idea to include freebies with every order I sell online? If yes, what would I offer: a free plant, free plant label, or (: free homemade muffins (loved by everyone who have tried them). From my experience, the plants I have received for free with some of my own orders were unwanted; some I already had, and some I just didn't want and really didn't have space to plant them. So, if I should offer a free plant, should I have a list to choose from? What do you think about this? What would you, yourself, like to get as a freebie? ;)

Comments (21)

  • slp0100
    14 years ago

    imo - a plant marker would be cool...maybe it could be personalized with your website.

  • thisismelissa
    14 years ago

    Well, I don't like the idea of the plant marker as I use all the same plant markers in my garden, for consistency. I'm quite confident it'd be thrown in the garbage.
    The muffin thing would make me uneasy since it'd put you in harm's way for liability suits if someone got sick.
    The free plant is a nice idea, so long as it's a less-common variety. I'd sorta turn my nose up at being sent a Blue Angel or Patriot. .... Anything common would be immediately gifted to a neighbor and would have little impact on me doing return business with you.

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  • hostahillbilly
    14 years ago

    This is a tuffy. Our last order from Q and Z had a 'freebie'. It looks to be an interesting plant, but given a choice, I'd have opted for some % off for the big order.

    I'm thinking that quality interesting and consistent plants will be the winning business plan, along with good and prompt communication regarding offerings and orders.

    hh

  • groundskeeperwenthe
    14 years ago

    From someone with dual degrees in horticulture and marketing, I hope I can help you out with this one.

    Consider printing out classy 3x5" cards with information on about the hosta, (Include your company's name, a picture of a grown specimen, cultural requirements, pests/disease, parentage, etc.) For those people that keep track of what they buy, this could be a way to keep your company's name at top of mind. It could be written in an elite/contemporary style or even as if the hosta wrote the message...it all depends on the image you want your company to present.

    Free plants are okay, but if they buy from a lot of places, it may be hard for the customer to remember who gave them the gift, and you've gained nothing.

    A tiny bag of slow release fertilizer may be a nice gift. It sends the message you care about the plant even after it leaves your nursery. It wouldn't cost much, and depending on how many sales you make, you could order bags with printed instructions on how to plant/fertilize a hosta.

    Good luck!

  • thisismelissa
    14 years ago

    I like what Groudskeeper had to say!

    And, if you wanted to the fertilizer thing, might I suggest that you just send a little bag of compost? That way, you'd be sure to catch the attention of the more organic gardeners out there!

  • georgia-rose
    14 years ago

    Free is good! As long as it is something the customer wants and can use.
    This week I placed an order for 80 plants (not Hostas: Had already placed an order for those). Today I received a call back from the vendor to inform me that all of my order was available and would be shipped in 2 weeks, as agreed.
    I was also informed that I had qualified for up to 30 FREE plants, my choice of 6 different ones. I chose 20 Hostas, of course! The value of the free plants was 27% of my order.
    I was unaware of the bonus and it was not incumbent upon them to make the offer, but they did.
    After thinking about it for a while, I concluded that such a nice gesture should not go unrewarded and called back to increase my order by 20 plants (Hostas)!

  • hostabff
    14 years ago

    The fertilizer idea is interesting. One of the beneficial microbe products with a description of the benefits might be of value if this is the direction you are going.

    I personally love getting the free plant. The vendors I buy from that include a free plant seem to make the extra effort to select something special - I have not received anything too common. With all the wholesale TC labs - you should be able to select some "new" options to offer. I am not as concerned about the size of a free plant as I am for the plants I paid for...

  • kentstar
    14 years ago

    I don't see anything wrong with getting a freebie plant. You haven't lost anything or had to pay for it, so why not?
    You can do with it as you please, give to away to a friend or neighbor, keep it and have fun with it, or toss it out. Where's the problem with that? Just my opinion...

    Cathy

  • gardenfanatic2003
    14 years ago

    I don't care about freebies. I care about good sized, healthy plants.

    Deanna

  • daylilyluver
    14 years ago

    Oh the freebies...

    As you can tell be my handle I'm a little addicted to daylilies. I don't have nearly as many as others but I do have quite enough of them.

    Here is my take on the mail order and "bonus" plants. I'm ordering what I am ordering because I like that specific plant variety. I'd much rather receive, in the case of day lilies, an extra fan or 2 of the varity I ordered rather than some plant that the grower decided to include.
    This also happens with iris orders. Most growers send you extras but most are plants that I didn't pick, ie not the color I wanted.

    However, that being said, I have received some very nice "bonus" plants.

    that being said, it's a nice thought and the end user can do whatever he/she wants with the bonus plant(s).

    IMHO, I DON'T THINK THAT YOU SHOULD SEND FOOD. TOO MANY LIABILITIES WITH FOOD ALLERGIES, etc.

  • shade_tolerant
    14 years ago

    I love getting free plants! I have a lot of hostas but when I get a bonus hosta I don't mind if it's one I already have. Of course it's extra nice when it isn't but you can always keep a duplicate, trade or give it away. This applies to other plants and perennials as well.
    I wouldn't give a list to choose from, it might get too crazy, better to just say you include a bonus plant of your choice or just make it a nice surprise that they find when they open the box.
    Plant markers not so interested in. They're nice but a free plant is nicer.
    Food might be a problem. Some people can't have sugar, salt, whatever.

  • Nancy
    14 years ago

    I like the idea of the fertilizer. I really think it all depends on the buyer. I don't have a lot of hostas, so free plants would be right up my alley. If I were buying daylilies, I have enough that I am more selective of what I want these days & would be afraid of getting plants I already have.

  • boomantoo
    14 years ago

    Absolutely, who doesn't love to get something for free. I sell plants from time to time and all of my customers appreciate free plants. What I usually do is listen to their likes and dislikes as we walk through my gardens and they always end up getting one of the plants they admired along the way. They really like this and will remember it next year when they come back, it usually pays off. It doesn't have to be a large plant, it's just the thought of it that counts. Thanks Jeff

  • dhaven
    14 years ago

    Interesting thread, thanks to vds4 for starting it. I also sell hostas by mail order now and again, and if an order is for more than 3 or 4 plants, I always try to include a freebie. Like Jeff, I find that I can often get some idea of a person's preferences by their order and even by checking their wish lists on any forums they use. I avoid sending anything that is very common and widely available, because most people prefer to get something they don't already have. I prefer to send them something they have never even heard of before!

    I specialize in minis, although I have hundreds of hostas in other sizes, so I will often send a mini if that is a size the person clearly likes. Rather than risk duplicating something they might already have, I keep a couple of varieties on hand specifically as gift plants that are very uncommon, not commercially available, and that most people will not have heard of, much less have in their gardens. Although many these are solid colored hostas, they also are very pleasing little plants. I often sent Sweetheart, Special Gift (particularly appropriate), Tot Tot, Jade Sceptor, Flora Dora, or Nakaiana. People who clearly prefer somewhat larger hostas might get Dark Star, Alpine Aire, or Golden Spider. None of these are rare or particularly expensive varieties, but they definitely aren't mainstream hostas, and all are very nice when they reach maturity.

    If I know someone likes companion plants, I may send an astilbe, an unusual fern such as a tatting fern, a primrose, or perhaps a variegated Solomon's Seal. I've also sent Stargazer lily bulbs, which are generally very well received. I have found that regardless of what I choose to send, a freebie is generally appreciated for what it is--a thank you for ordering hostas.

  • swmogardens
    14 years ago

    I like the idea of sending more of what I ordered. If I order 1 Blue Angel and you send me 2, I will order from you again. In the past I've received free plants that really did not fit in my garden.

  • in ny zone5
    14 years ago

    Instead of freebies of another plant, why not as a 'freebie' send (all or half of) your plants with more eyes than expected. This would be a real benefit.

  • Teresa_MN
    14 years ago

    Skip the freebies. Just offer nice plants with a good root system. A picture of a healthy plant will drive the price up and you don't have to bother with the freebies. Klas8045 - a member here who also sells hostas in online auctions posts the best pictures. She lives in my area so I always pick them up and visit. You always get exactly what you see in the pic online. I think that is the best way to develop a good seller reputation. You will make more in the long run.

  • dhaven
    14 years ago

    Sending additional divisions is fine, as long as one has enough of a given hosta to do so and it is economically feasible. However, some hostas, especially newer varieties, are in high demand, but even after 2 years in the garden may remain large, single divisions. Thunderbolt and Dream Queen are perfect examples, with 2 years growth in the garden, they will be thick, stocky single divisions with very good root systems. Obviously it's not possible to send 2 or 3 divisions for the price of one. Montana Aureomarginata is another example, as it's one of my favorite hostas, but very slow to gain size and add divisions. I routinely have divisions of this one that are 2-3 years old, almost 2 feet tall, but still single divisions with good roots. Oddly enough, Blue Mouse Ears is another variety that is quite slow to throw additional divisions. Most minis are prolific once they are established, but I have a bunch of these that will be 3 years old this spring, and last year I checked and found that these large, stocky single divisions all have roots that are profuse, thick, and up to 12 inches long. Some have 2 eyes, but not a one has put out a second division with it's own root system. Again, this is a situation where one would have to dig up and ship 2 or 3 entire plants in order to send extra divisions.

    On more common, prolific hostas, most reputable sellers will send multiple divisions, and root systems should be good. However, some of the better known nurseries routinely send a single division, and when you look at the Hosta Finder, the price listed is always for a single division. If you do mail order, always be sure you specifically ask what size plant will be shipped to avoid disappointments.

    Like most people, I prefer to buy my hostas in person, so I can see exactly what I'm getting. And I'm the sort of customer who does not hesitate to gently tip a hosta out of it's pot to check the root system before I buy a plant. You will too often find that large, lush "bargain" hostas sold by places that don't specialize in hostas will have very poor root systems in spite of having multiple divisions with profuse foliage. This generally indicates that the plants have been treated with a chemical such as DAP that forces heavy foliage growth, but at the expense of root growth. And it's the roots you are really buying, not the foliage. Finally, if you prefer not to receive any free plants with an order, by all means let the seller know. I think most sellers would be delighted not to waste a plant on a customer who doesn't want it.

  • sidney1515
    14 years ago

    I have over 1500 hostas and I love the freebies even if they are duplicated. I have only had one dublication freebie in all that time. I start unpacking those boxes and can't wit to see what was sent as a freebie. . it's like Christmas in spring. . .I can't ever remember being disappointed. . of course I have lots of space to plant in, but if I didn't I would love to have an extra incase those voles started smorgasbording here.. . lol

  • hostaholic2 z 4, MN
    14 years ago

    I love getting freebie plants. If I were to get a duplicate or something I didn't want it's not a problem to give it to a friend or donate it to our Garden Club or Master Gardener plant sale. Personally, I can't imagine being being disappointed by getting a free plant. Last fall I ordered some daylilies and was able to list some choices for a freebie. Instead of naming particular varieties I simply mentioned what attributes I was looking for, what color would not work in my garden and left it up to the seller. Upon receiving my order I looked up my bonus plant on their website only to find that it had all the attributes I was looking for and it sold it for more than my entire order total. You better believe I'll go back to them for my next daylilies.

  • nutmeg4061
    14 years ago

    I think freebies are a great idea, in theory. I too enjoy opening the box and finding a surprise, but it has usually turned out to be something I wouldn`t purchase on my own, and I don`t have a lot of gardening room so I give them away. A freebie of what was on your order seems to make the most sense. I also like "thank you for shopping with us" discounts or "points off" on your next order. Those I will usually use. Yet, all in all, I have to wonder if places that send freebies or discounts...have raised their prices just a teeny bit to cover said "freebies". Same as any other company selling a product. Is anything REALLY free?
    In short, buy from the companies that please you.
    If your quality and customer service are exceptional, they will come back. And they will bring friends. Freebies or not.