Selling, growing nursery plants? There are websites, apps for that

By CASEY MINTER

Capital Press

Online marketing, smart phone apps new tools of the nursery trade.

The importance of an online presence in the digital age has made an impact on the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

In January 2013, the OAN released a new website that serves as an online and interactive form of their traditional print publication, The Nursery Guide.

The website — www.nurseryguide.com — is designed to encourage connectivity between growers and buyers, whether they are seeking new varieties of plants to purchase, looking for new markets for old plants or looking to resupply their inventories with materials.

“The goal of the nursery guide is to create awareness of Oregon growers and Oregon plants,” said Ann Murphy, director of marketing at the OAN.

Since the site’s re-launch in 2013, buyer interest has taken off. OAN’s old Nursery Guide website peaked around 30,000 site “hits” per year. In 2013, however, the OAN recorded 90,000 hits, tripling the outreach. And the number is still growing. As of July 14, the website had recorded 73,000 hits since January 2014. With almost half a year left to bring in visitors, the website is on track to far surpass last year’s growth as well.

“The next big push is to add E-commerce capabilities so office staff intervention isn’t required when a nursery wants to purchase additional listings,” said Murphy.

The website has a multitude of features to assist growers and buyers when searching for a product.

“The new site offers advanced search options, including filtering results by zone and type of plant,” Murphy said. “The site now offers thousands of plant photos and descriptions, and every OAN member has an online profile that can be enhanced with photos and descriptions.”

This customization is helpful in the saturated market of plant varieties and products, especially because the OAN is constantly updating the website to add more content. On average, 200 new plant listings are added every year.

The most recent update is a mobile device-friendly version of the website that can be accessed from smart phones and tablets for users on the go. This is one of many modern adjustments the OAN is making to make interactions as smooth and efficient as possible.

The redesigned, mobile device-friendly website is not the only new possibility that will be featured at the Farwest Trade Show. There are several other ways to connect with many in the nursery industry, including several apps that are going to be displayed at the show.

The GrowIt app is designed to help stoke interest in gardening, whether that interest is recreational or professional.

Allan Armitage, a speaker at this year’s show, has also designed an app for retailers and homeowners. The app, called Armitage’s Greatest Perennials and Annuals, features photos, descriptions and advice on a variety of different plants, as well as the garden centers in your area you can visit to find them.

Finally, the OAN has produced an app for the Farwest Trade Show that attendees can use to navigate the showroom floor, check the schedule, find exhibitors and give feedback.

All of these apps are available on iPhone and Android.



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