MOUNT GILEAD — Morrow County Chamber of Commerce members joined Zoom Tuesday for the monthly Lunch and Learn meeting sponsored by the Chamber.
Groovy Plants Ranch owner Liz Hughes of Marengo overflowed with enthusiasm as she described the changes and growth in their business since increasing their online presence during the pandemic.
Shift to web
Hughes said Groovy Plants made the pivot to using online business last summer. They primarily ship their plants to customers in state and the central Ohio area. They have been surprised that the second largest area of their sales is California.
When they realized they needed to make a change during the pandemic, they questioned how they would be able to attract people to their business online.
They first used Etsy Marketplace even though there were several extra charges involved with that company. At first 70 percent of their orders online were through Etsy. As their business got exposure online their business changed to 50 percent through its website.
There is a lower price for customers who buy directly from their website. That customer reward also brings them more direct business.
“We grew exponentially over the summer as our online business picked up,” said Hughes. And because of that growth they hired a person to oversee the website and shipping.
It was a real advantage to have that person keep on top of the website orders and they were soon able to hire three full time and two part time employees to keep up with orders and shipping.
They also expanded their presence on social media to include not only Face Book and Twitter, but also Instagram and Tic Toc. They now have 20,000 Facebook followers and 14,000 Tic Toc followers.
Tips for success
Hughes said their success on social media and the response they get on posts is directly linked to the excitement they have for the products they show. It’s important not to put something up on social media just for the sake of it, but for something that is of genuine interest to you.
The Marengo U.S. Post Office got a shout out from Hughes for their great service in doing pick-ups two or three times a day for them.
Hughes said that the quality of photos that are posted is very important. Her husband Jared insists that they have good photography and that’s what gets posted.
They also find that different ages use social media differently. They have put the 20-year-old staff in charge of Tic Toc posts.
Chamber member Brad Ebersole asked if their pivot to online sales is permanent.
“There are no limits to online sales and business,” said Hughes. “Online business has positively affected our business.”
Hughes predicts that they will keep most aspects of their online business even after the pandemic is over. In the meantime they have made improvements at their Fargo location.
She invited Chamber members to visit the Groovy Plant Ranch with their new concrete walkways that are also an improvement for those in wheelchairs or people with walkers.
There is also an area in their greenhouse where customers can pot their own plants and the old, stone schoolhouse building has been converted to house retail sales.
“It looks to be another record year for gardening and houseplants,” said Hughes.
Groovy Plants Ranch is located just off State Route 61 at 4140 County Road 15, Marengo.