In this episode of the eCom Insights Podcast, host Zan chats with Ayelet Fairman, COO of Verdant Life, a rapidly growing eCommerce brand that specializes in house plants. They discuss the challenges and differences of the eCommerce market in the plant industry compared to other markets, with a focus on the unique challenges of shipping live plants. Ayelet also highlights the inclusivity of the plant community and how growers help each other to combat universal problems in the industry. They also touch on the topic of butterfly gardening, which is the reason why Ayelet started her business.
Zan: [00:00:00] All right. Welcome to another episode of the e-com insights. This time I have the pleasure to be chatting with Ayelet Fairman, formerly in house council for Offer Cosmetics and now COO of a quickly growing eCommerce brand called Verdant Life that specializes in house plants.
And she also handles legal matters relevant to social media and influencers through her legal practice. So Ayelet thank you for being here.
Ayelet: Thank you for having me I’m excited to be on this podcast, I’ve watched e-commerce grow over the years. I’m glad we were able to connect. Zan has been a good part of helping me grow my email strategy and now my SMS strategy through his company, Reach Realm, so it’s, it’s been a good partnership and hopefully we’ll only grow in our space and so our plants will grow, which is always, you know, our fun pun here at Vernon Life, [00:01:00] we sell house plants, we ship them all over the United States for now, not worldwide.
So I haven’t been able to get you some, over there, but you know, maybe one day we’ll get that licensing done.
Zan: Yeah, it’s about I get some here as well. Got me into the Planned Parenthood
Ayelet: Yeah, well, once it starts it’s like a bug. You, you can’t, you don’t stop Every time you see plants, you wanna bring ’em home with you. I was traveling recently and I always wanna like bring plants as I travel, you can bring plants within the US from different parts of the US with you on, on planes for the most part, depending on the states.
So it’s always something that, it’s fun, it’s a reminder. And then I always like gifting plants to people. So that’s kind of what started Verdant life was just the love of what we do and then I’ve been doing, I did e-commerce before, as you mentioned, in cosmetic, saw how powerful it was in the cosmetic space, which is still, you know, kind of [00:02:00] one of those super saturated markets.
There’s always new brands coming in. And I wanted to put it, you know, my knowledge there into something that I loved doing and like selling or of being around and, and have plants came to it. It’s also the challenge of shipping a plant is a different kind of challenge. So It was fun for us to kind of figure out how to do that.
And every brand I’ve seen does it differently and everyone seems to make it work the way they want. It’s also a very nice community. It’s very different than growers have to help each other in order to combat, you know, like universal problems in the plant space. So it’s a much more I don’t know if it’s inclusive is the right word, but it’s a welcoming industry.
So I really like that, that people are open to teaching you and helping you figure things out. If you get a plant that has something on it and you don’t know what it is, is it a disease? Is it fungus? Is it something, should I quarantine it? Should I throw it out? [00:03:00] There are people in the space who are willing to help you who’ve been in, you know, professionals who’ve done it for their whole life.
So they’re very open to that. Previously in the cosmetics, it’s, it’s much more, I guess, competitive, secretive about problems and things like that. But anyway, happy to be here and talk, talk plants, talk e-commerce and whatever else Zan would like.
Zan: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we were just talking before we started recording, right? That our conversations always turn out to be very interesting. So, I’m sure that whoever listens to this will find this exciting as well. And to segue into one topic that you brought up, when we look at the, the e-commerce market and you’ve obviously experienced these two completely different markets and how they work between the companies that they’re in, those in those markets.
But with those also come different challenges, right? When you enter a new market, different challenges [00:04:00] arise. And one that I find very fascinating and the plant space is what you already mentioned, shipping, right? It’s very unique compared to the majority of other direct to consumer markets where shipping is technically not that big of an issue.
So you, you found a really unique way of bridging the problem at, at Verdant Life. How did you, how did you go about that?
Ayelet: So I, I mean, before I, I started selling plants. I, I ordered plants online. I’ve always liked plants. I would order seeds for the most part. Throughout the years I would grow vegetables. And then when the pandemic hit, I really started my garden. And doing, so I do butterfly gardening at home. I like in my, you know, thank God I live in Florida.
We have a nice piece of land. I can be outside. I know not everyone is blessed to be there. I know people, there’s an influx of people moving to Florida, moving to places where you can get more [00:05:00] space. After like lockdowns in big cities kind of pointed out that disparity, so, I do butterfly gardening at home, so I’ve always bought different butterfly friendly plants.
So it’s the, i, it’s really to attract butterflies to my yard that are native to the area. If it’s something you’re interested in doing, you should hook up with local groups because I won’t know necessarily what’s good in your area. So I was doing a lot of like plant trades or getting stuff online getting cuttings of plants and getting seeds or flowers.
So that I could do that in my garden. I also don’t like to use pesticides, so when you butterfly garden, you don’t use any sprays or pesticides. We use some natural things on our house plants here, but I, I really try to keep it in a kind of natural way. We, we actually use ladybugs as one of our pesticides methods is releasing live ladybugs because they will eat the harmful pests to the plants, but they won’t eat [00:06:00] the plant itself.
So, By getting plants, I saw how others were packaging it. It’s kind of like if you’re packaging one of a kind art piece and shipping it, how would you package that? Because you really don’t want it to break or damage. Each leaf on the plant we consider, you know, very important, especially to the customer cuz they wanna get it with all the leaves in intact.
They don’t want something That’s got it gone kind of all over the place. And also there’s soil. So as it moves, the box is gonna go upside down. You don’t want the soil getting everywhere. You don’t want the customer to receive basically a box with dead leaves and soil. So the customer experience is probably the most important in directing us how we ship.
You know, you see, I don’t know if you get Amazon over there, and if they do it the same way here you know, in Europe, as in the US. But they’ll ship a tiny little item in a huge box with like one piece of bubble that thing’s flying all over the place in the box [00:07:00] and shipping it doesn’t really matter,
cause for the most part, it’s either like a battery pack of wire, you know, whatever it is. It’s not gonna be significantly impacted by the travel. Our items will be. So we actually try to pack things very tight in the box so that they’re not moving arround. We have five different types of fillers, depending on the plants that we use.
And then depending on the type of plant, we have different packaging methods. So we try to kind of seal the soil in in the pot and the roots from the base of the stem as a plant. And I mean, I could, I could show you, but it’s, it’s a little hard to visualize it because every plant’s different. Even from the same plant family.
Sometimes, you know, my, team I have a really great fulfillment team, so we do all our own fulfillment in house and we’re really more of a fulfillment center than we are a nursery or grow house. We hold the plants, we source the plants locally. Because we’re in Florida it’s easier for us to do that.
And then we [00:08:00] hold some, we do grow some from seeds or cuttings, but every plant’s unique. So sometimes when I’m teaching someone new on our fulfillment team, I really have to be with them for almost every plant that they pack to make sure that they’re doing it right or having one, one of my other team members over there looking at what they’re doing.
Because every plant’s unique, but it after about two, three months of doing it and you’ve done enough plants, you, you get a feel for. Some of the plants we ship are carnivorous plants, so they eat pests and bugs. So like the Venus Fly Trap, probably the most famous, but we have others. And those require a bit more like humidity for shipping cuz they’re a high, you know, they’re a swamp loving, humid, loving plant.
So shipping something in a cardboard box that likes humidity. It’s also a challenge. So unfortunately we have to add some plastics to things. That’s one of my goals. Long term, reducing the amount of plastic we use, finding suitable alternatives that are cost [00:09:00] affordable. Eventually I wanna at least offer it if customers wanna pay extra, just because it is so expensive.
Some customers are willing to pay for it. Some customers don’t really want to cushion that. . But between all of the materials and looking at packaging, really thinking creatively about packaging, because I was in cosmetics, I’m very familiar with, you know, like the shrink wrapping ceilings all the way that you would package a cosmetic.
It’s also something that you don’t really want it to break. You know, a lot of the press powders can break if they’re flying around in a box or, or glass bottles. So, you know, I took some of that knowledge into how we ship and package our plants. And so far we have amazing customer reviews.
Everyone’s very happy when they get our plants in the winter. Also, shipping a plant is another obstacle. I have a friend who owns a chocolate factory and he has trouble in the summer shipping his chocolates because they will melt. And I have problems in the winter shipping my plants because they [00:10:00] will freeze.
So it’s, you know, it’s interesting to talk to him about how he, he gets a lot of cold packs. I get heat packs to ship in the winter, so my northern customers are located in some of the more freezing states. We have an option for them to add a heat pack or we will add a heat pack if we see that it’s cold or there’s a cold front, and then we will add
some of the, like we have these reusable freezer bags that you use like in the grocery store. So we have those available and we’ll put the plants in there. And we also try to limit the days it spends in transit. So we’re very particular about the days of the week that we ship. So we, you know, really try to inform the customer like, yes, your order might not get shipped the day after you place it, but that’s because we don’t want to sit and transit for a,
or Sundays, cuz UPS is still closed on Sundays and we ship primarily with UPS. FedEx is now open on Sundays and I know UPS has a long term goal [00:11:00] to be open on Sundays or delivering once they start that I could probably ship Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Right now we just ship Mondays and Tuesdays primarily, but if it’s a Florida order I can ship it even Thursday. So it definitely is an interesting challenge for sure for me to figure out what we’re doing if there’s a cold storm or a hurricane affected area. Recently we had Hurricane Ian over by us. We had some orders that were going over Fort Myers, St. Petersburg, other parts of the state. And I was just like, we’re gonna hold them.
I don’t wanna ship it and have it get stuck on a truck, or, you know, you don’t know what’s happening. So we rather hold the plants, notify the customers. We’re holding your order, we’re waiting to see how the weather pans out. And for the most part, people really appreciate us looking out for that. So, that’s really how we’ve kind of gone about it is, is how I would want it done for.
And [00:12:00] then how I would want it, you know, for my customer to experience opening it. And I remember getting one review that a customer said, you know, I think she ordered like six or seven plants. She’s like, it’s like Christmas morning when I open your packages. We use really nice tissue paper. We try to wrap everything really nicely.
So it is like you’re opening a gift that is to you, whether you’re buying it for yourself or for someone else. We do gifting too. And we get great results, from that too, where people really appreciate that we put the care in cuz they can’t figure out how to get the plant to their brand that they wanna get, you know, halfway across the country.
So, it’s definitely help me build a lot of connections with people and I think I’m still learning and figuring stuff out if anyone has suggestions or, or interesting new material. Corn starch is the big thing now is, is making stuff from corn instead of plastic. So
Zan: [00:13:00] And wheat is doing really well right now as well, right? Wheat is becoming very popular.
Ayelet: yeah, I thought it was impacted, unfortunately by the war in Ukraine, but, cause I thought a lot of wheat comes from that region, but it’s a lot of these newer technologies are just not widespread enough to. Break things down. Like I, I would love to use recycled water bottles as our planter pots because for the most part, people are probably re repotting their plants, or as the plant gets bigger, you don’t need to have like a really beautiful or branded planter pot.
If we could figure out a way to get those plastics down. There are some companies doing it. It’s just so cost prohibitive right now. But I’m always looking at it and I’m always, you know, I’m in the industry, so I get ads all over Facebook. There’s a new kind of, of like, pellet that you can use as like an additive or a topper.
Like instead of using rocks, you can use this [00:14:00] pellet that’s from recycled materials. So we’ve looked at adding that instead of having rocks for people to have, because the toppers of the plants help reduce bugs and. Issues people have for drain, improved drainage in the pot, pot itself. So yeah. I could talk hours about all of I know if you, any questions, comments, or your experience if you’ve had and in shipping any of Interestings,
Zan: Yeah, ship shipping is an interesting part of it. I think that especially now when things are becoming more local, right? People are starting to realize that hey, maybe ordering something from, you know, halfway across the globe is not the best idea. People are kind of getting used to paying for shipping again, which is very interesting.
And they’re willing to pay for shipping if the experience is better, and it seems like, working with you, for example, we’ve noticed that that’s also the feedback that people are now willing to [00:15:00] go, okay, Amazon gives me free two day shipping, but I’d rather pay for shipping if my experience is gonna be better if I get my product
the way that I want it. I wonder how has that shown, you know, from a business perspective, we can talk about the, you know, the general objection, objectives we have with things like that, but how does that reflect on you as a business when you invest in this much effort and making sure that the product arrives in as perfect as possible condition?
Ayelet: So we, I mean, we tell our, our clients when they ask us like, oh, why do I have to pay for shipping? Your plants are more expensive than Home Depot or somewhere else. And I’m like, you know, we, we have a live arrival guaranteed. So every plant will arrive to you in like a live good condition, or we will ship it or refund you and handle it.
And I think our customer service in the space, from the feedback I’ve gotten, is one of the [00:16:00] best because we actually respond to the customers. I know before I purchased, before we started Verdant Lyfe, I tried contacting some sorry, I’m just going to drink here,
I tried contacting some companies that, like the plant died within two days of arriving to me. Or the planter broke and I never got responses. You know, I kind of get it and I allow for that because they’re, for the most part, like literally farmers, so they’re not as well versed in like customer service or e-commerce or how to give the care that I think a customer expects, especially from the cosmetic space.
So when, you know, being in the cosmetic space, that’s really like if you didn’t offer good customer service, you had no chance, of surviving, but really giving our customers the attention, the care. They would send us pictures, we would resend them plants. I have a customer who, you know, [00:17:00] it was just too hot, I guess, in her area,
she wanted us to wait till the fall to reship her order. Things arrived really like, wilted. So we said, sure. And now we just reshipped it to her, you know, we told her, let us know when you’re ready and we’ll reship it. And we just reshipped it, and it’s been like two or three months since, you know, we, it was June probably, it’s been a while.
But they always tell us like, you, you just have the best customer service. So having, being able to respond about the experience they can expect by paying for shipping. And it’s also been like a point of contention, you know, between me, I started this with my mom, Oprah. Between us she always wants us to charge shipping, and then there’s always the, we’ll build it into the price of the plant and offer free shipping.
So I’ve seen brands try both methods. I think our customers do like seeing that they’re paying for the shipping at this point. I didn’t always agree with her, and I think at this [00:18:00] point they like to know what they’re paying for. They like to know the breakdown of the costs. Still, for the most part, it’s still not as much as we pay on our end for shipping.
So we do subsidize it, you know, a bit into the cost of the plant, but not they still see the charge. And I don’t think that deters them one way or another. I seen our free shipping promos haven’t always been successful as our free plant promos. So, Seeing our customers, you know, appreciate that experience, review it positively makes us encouraged to keep doing it and keep offering and keep working on improving it.
So that’s, you know, how we managed it and, and really just educating them. And that’s part of, I guess, where your team comes in is making sure like they understand that through their emails and stuff, what they’re getting Yeah, I’d say that’s it. It would be nice if I could just throw my products into Amazon and have Amazon fulfill it and not have to worry about it [00:19:00] and work from anywhere in the world and just let Amazon fulfill and settlers fulfill my stuff.
But I think that’s what makes us unique and that’s what makes our brand, is that we do it ourselves. And we give, you know, the experience, especially when customers wanna see a picture of the plant they’re gonna be receiving beforehand. We also offer that, that we can send them a picture. Cause we’re here, the plants that we have in stock are here.
And they’re in the same location as you ship it. I know some other businesses work with multiple nurseries around the country, depending on the location. And they will, you know, they don’t know what plant is going. I mean, it’s gonna be that plant, you know, but it might not be the exact one that they wanna see.
So those things help us differentiate our space and our customers understand that, you know, when they’re paying for the shipping, they’re, that is what they get, they get the good materials. We get quality packing materials they can reuse. If they wish. Some things are compost, you know, compostable.[00:20:00]
So I just, you know, we use plastic wrap and plastic bags sometimes, and that, that’s where I’m like, I just don’t wanna be shipping plastic all over the us. But for the most part we’re we keep them aware and informed what’s happening and what’s happening with their plant, cause I feel like our customers like, Pets are the new children and plants are the new pets.
They really care about their plants and they appreciate a good experience and people who care about their plants too before they get them.
Zan: Right, yeah people do are shifting their priorities, right? They are caring much more about different things that even before the pandemic, it feels like the pandemic changed things drastically in the D 2 C market. And now people value things like having a, you know, a well equipped home having plans at home.
And it seems like that’s gonna keep going. Especially now during the holiday season, and [00:21:00] we’ve been working together a lot on prepping for the holiday season. And I think that’s another big shift that’s happening right now. Black Friday this year seems completely different in the way that it’s being executed than any time before.
How do you see this? What’s happening now in the market?
Ayelet: So, I’m a big target shopper here in the US so I look at a lot of target stuff and I think about maybe two weeks ago they have started having like almost daily deals for Black Friday that are the Black Friday deals. And I was just shocked. I have never seen it come up this early in middle of October, and I think part of it is supply chain issues.
And if they have the goods, they wanna sell it. Someone shared in one of my groups that there’s already Hanukkah stuff. So Hanukkah this year is in December. But you know, they, the fact that they even have it now in October, it seems to me so bizarre. And I think it’s cuz maybe last year they missed it
because [00:22:00] of the supply chain stuff. So it seems like they’re just putting stuff out on the floor as soon as they get it. It’s almost like a just in time production that’s happening. And that’s when they’re running sales. I’m curious to see behind the scenes how the big retailers are handling that because they’re very much like big planners that I don’t think they’ve really planned as much as they would’ve liked, but they had stuff like, as soon as this comes in, we’ll roll it into the so it, it definitely kind of has taken me by surprise, especially cuz I thought I was starting things early with Verdant Lyfe by starting on November 6th, our Black Friday sales, because I don’t wanna be in the crunch of shipping that I am anticipating to come the week of Black Friday, which now I’m kind of like, maybe there won’t be as much of a crunch as previous years because everyone’s starting so early and I think consumers are also
now expecting that earlier, and they’re holding off until they see something that’s [00:23:00] good enough. I feel like a lot of my customers are waiting for good sales to buy because some of my latest, you know, promotions, emails, text messages that weren’t necessarily a good sale or a good deal have not done as well as they did two months ago or three months ago.
And I think that’s because now the customer’s like, oh, well Target has a Black Friday and this one has a Black Friday deal going on. I’m gonna wait for Verdant Lyfe to have a Black Friday deal, or, or that’s where it’s coming. So it’s also weird cuz it’s a change of season. So every change of season I see my plant sales differ.
It’s because it’s a. It’s a very seasonal thing, so a lot of people are bringing in their winter, you know, their summer plants and realizing how many more plants they have for the winter. Like people will take them out to their patios for the summer, bring them in for the winter. And when you’re doing that, you suddenly, like if you acquired plants over the summer, you suddenly have so many plants and you’re like, well, if I have to get another one and you figure out where to put it, they’re not as ready to buy,
[00:24:00] so I’m not sure if it’s the Black Friday or if it’s the season change that’s affecting customers with a couple of our latest, you know, messages and campaigns. But I it’s definitely make me think how to structure things for next year already for this timeframe because that’s what, you know, we build up from June, start thinking, you know, even from February you start thinking about Black Friday promos.
And then also with Amazon kind of splitting up prime day. Also like customers since Prime Day, I think was July, or they moved it this year to August, I can’t recall, but
they had, they pushed it. It wasn’t, it’s normally on. I think something like July 11th where like both the numbers are prime or something like that was the whole origin, origin story of Prime Day was that the dates were prime and it was like a low sale time, and so that’s why they were like, this is our worst time of the year.
We’re gonna make it a holiday. [00:25:00] So, but I think this year I think they had supply chain stuff going on, so they moved it and then they split it. There was just recently another prime day and I was like, what? Why am I getting more prime emails? Like I thought this was done. But I think the consumer’s learning to kind of wait for a good deal to make it worthwhile or well in our market.
Or a plant or something gets featured or has some significance to them, and that’s why they shop. So it’s really like thinking how’s the consumer buying right now is very different. And they, they do definitely want quality goods over quick fixes is my, you know, my take on things. But I think every industry, every business experiences things differently.
So that’s just how we’ve really prepared for the holidays. We’re gonna start all our Black Friday stuff on November 5th. Now I’m kind of like, I wanna start it today, but this was, you know, we planned for it. It’s also in line [00:26:00] with daylight savings time changing here in the us which is still happening this year, but supposedly next year there will not be a daylight savings change based on
legislation I’ve seen go through Congress. I don’t know if that would be happening, but that’s my legal side right. I like to keep up with what’s going on with legislation. I don’t always believe it, but when daylight savings time changes, it’s a, it’s like a seasonal plant situation where your plants are gonna be receiving less light.
It’s as soon as the days start getting shorter. So if your plants are getting less light, that’s when they’re not gonna be growing as much. That’s when maybe a customer will start to want an extra plan or two to like kind of satisfy that, like, oh, I’m not getting new leaves, I’m not getting, you know, that satisfaction.
It’s not blooming, it’s not growing as much. So I’ll, I’ll add to the collection. So that’s, that’s what I’m hoping to see be a good success as we go, and then from there, we have a number of sales lined up through [00:27:00] Black Friday. And we’re also gonna be mindful of shipping again during that timeframe because here we have Thanksgiving’s a holiday, and then the extra
lift of orders, I think that UPS is carrying. I’m curious to see the reports on how much more and if, how it compares to previous years cuz it is a different feeling. Also, people are traveling again, so a lot of their budgets I think are shifted now a little bit away from goods. I don’t know.
There was a report about Target that they got, they had too many home goods cause they didn’t anticipate people to start traveling as quickly as they. And moving around and everything. So they had over, I guess, forecast in the home, homewares home care stuff. So they’re running major.
They’ve been since august running major sales and different home stuff, which is, you know, great for me. I buy some plant stands, I get some [00:28:00] different, you know, outdoor patio furniture in Florida’s like really cheap right now. But we have patio weather for the rest of the year will be amazing for us.
So it’s just a month ago it was terrible. Or two months ago.
Zan: You guys have it very good during the and during the winter.
Ayelet: Yes. So that’s, that’s why you live in Florida. I mean that’s why we have snowbirds come down from Canada. My neighbor her dad’s Canadian and he’s down here all winter. And my kids will play with his ki with her kids and they’ll, he’ll watch them all cuz he’s just so happy to be outside in Florida coming from Canada that it’s just such a nice change.
And that’s when, that’s what Florida is the best for. I, I don’t tell people don’t come June, July. , you’ll, I mean, it’s, I think it’s still beautiful, but I think if you’re not in it year round, it’s hard to be used to the heat the way that it is here in summers.
Zan: Right. Yeah, definitely. I’ll go to location for someone that spent most of his life in an [00:29:00] alpine region of Europe where snow is a norm. Snow and mountains, that’s what we have.
Ayelet: It’s I don’t understand. I go to cold places. I’m just such a Floridian. I’ve been so conditioned to be in the warmer climate that I don’t, I can’t enjoy it. Even here, we had a cold spell and I was like, oh my gosh it’s like freezing, like I almost wanna turn on the heat, but it was probably like fifties, which is ridiculous.
Zan: And talking about heat, that actually brings us to driving up prices across the globe. And I think that that is gonna be an interesting debate for us, eCommerce owners and us in the eCommerce space. How do we adapt to that, right? How do we adapt to the inflation that this brings and how do we react increasing prices adapting to. What are thoughts on that? How do you see that? You know, just as an example, a lot of brands are now running these campaigns where, hey, we’re raising our prices due the inflation buy now, before, [00:30:00] before we have to do so what’s, let’s say on the.
Ayelet: I mean, I think it’s a good, I think the customer should be informed that prices are going up. I generally appreciate it, but I think it’ll force people to go more local. So that’s kind of, you know, for December. And cuz of shipping stuff, we’re gonna plan a few events locally for our local community just to make, bring awareness.
We’re here if they need last minute gifts. We’re gonna be open the 24th, 25th so people can come and get what they need. And it’s gonna drive people. You know, even Amazon now, they’ll almost, they’ll pay you in digital credits not to get your orders delivered next day. Cause it’s just so expensive.
I don’t know how they can keep up. I mean, it’s because it’s just the, they have the volume. But I went to a fulfillment center. I mean the, in OPCA, Florida, I went for a tour, pre pandemic. I went to a tour of the [00:31:00] Amazon Performance Center. I mean, everything there is electronic, unless those centers are starting to run on some alternatives.
The cost, I know fpl, which is our Florida Power and light local energy. It’s going up. Everything in our area is going up. So it’s going to make them have to like find ways to be creative about cutting costs. And I think they’ve, I mean, Amazon’s been at the front of like, we’ll pay you $3 in digital credits to delay your order an extra week and get it with like your other order, your subscribe and save, but whatever it is.
So you’ll see brands start to try to incentivize you to either come pick it up at their warehouse or pick it up locally at different centers that they have stuff kind of going to anyway. I’ve also seen a lot of stuff where stuff gets delayed and the consumer getting used to stuff getting delayed is something that [00:32:00] 2, 3, 4 years ago was not, you know, Amazon, if they said it’s two days, it’s two days.
Now it’s not really always two days you, it’s gonna be five days you might, stuff gets lost. Like I, they’ve, I think had to adapt things so much and they’re gonna have to keep adapting it as energy costs go up. I don’t think alternative fuels and energy producers are quite at the level of where we are with some others and the Green New Deal or all these political campaigns around it aren’t, they’re not, they’re gonna hurt industry, I think more than help
if they start to tax any of it, at least right now. I definitely think they should continue to invest in that, in, in the technology and the infrastructure building things. I mean, I think Elon Musk did an amazing job getting his supercharging stations all over the US the way he did and getting just proving that it’s possible [00:33:00] with the right kind of management.
So I think they need to figure out a way to harness those technologies and advancements to make things more affordable, but it’s not gonna be for, now that stuff’s like for five, 10 years when my kids are big not for when in the next year, it’s just gonna be pricey, it’s gonna be people kind of counting what’s happening.
In Florida right now, I think we’re still, we have a month of like no state tax on gasoline. So it’s basically, so our gas prices have actually gone down in Florida as the rest of the country’s gone up. So I haven’t felt it personally as much yet, so I, I hear about it, and then I got notifications. I mean, ups, USPS, everyone’s raising the shipping prices.
So again, it’s like shipping’s just gonna be cost prohibitive for some items and some things you’re gonna just get it locally. I mean, already, like I think toilet paper, paper towels, things like that, that are big and bulky, but light, [00:34:00] it’s not worth shipping it I think, and that’s where I’m like, I wonder, if some of these local pickup your order businesses could really take advantage of that that you’ll get it faster and sooner.
I used to use shift to deliver my groceries. There’s some of the other like, what’s it called? Instacart, some of these other methods of getting stuff to you. If Amazon or some of these other ones will do it the right way, they’ll be able to get you stuff. And I’ve seen even just, right, I said I’m big target shopper.
The target pickup was something I used to do before the pandemic. I did all of this stuff pre pandemic cuz I have young kids, so my son was six months old at the time when it started. So for the first six months of his life, I would pick up stuff. I don’t wanna go into the grocery store, go anywhere with my baby because it’s just a headache and I have two other little kids, so it’s like
you don’t wanna go in. So I would do it, and I would feel like I’m such a [00:35:00] brat almost for doing pickup orders, like making this poor person come out and give me stuff. And now I’ve just seen how Target, at least in my area, has expanded their pickup location. It used to be only four parking spots for pickup, and now I think it’s something like 12 or 14 spots.
And then as the holiday season company have even more and just more staff on those kind of things that like the same convenience of shipping that you get, you just have to drive or go pick it up. So it’s not as, as much of a headache. You don’t have to go into the store. Cause I think that’s where people like don’t wanna go into the store.
They know what they want, they want it brought to them. That’s where Amazon just became so convenient and I’ve actually tried to stop buying from Amazon as much because I feel like the quality has gone down because that’s where they’re cutting the costs, the quality, the customer service, like the goods themselves sometimes are very misleading about the sizes of things.
So I, I try to shop more [00:36:00] local stores, get my gifts locally and things like that over the season. But it’s hard.
Zan: It is. It’s changing the dynamic right? I feel we’ve seen at the start of the pandemic everyone was just ordering delivery. Everything was delivery at home. And then all of a sudden in the second path, part of the pandemic, now across the board, everyone just started doing pickup. And I think that that is, I was just reading the Shopify is actually expanding the technology for pickup so they can support it.
Which is a, is interesting that, and also looking at the both markets, right? Looking at the US and Europe. In Europe, because a lot of the delivery is done with bikes instead of cars. That hasn’t been such a quick shift then I’m seeing it on the US market.
Ayelet: Yeah it’s good that it’s bikes. And even in New York, I mean, I remember, you know, traveling to New York and getting Uber deliveries and the Uber drive, Uber [00:37:00] drivers or bikes on bikes and you know, the bigger cities, the more congested, I mean, a lot of Europe wasn’t designed for the size of cars that we have nowadays.
So it’s one of those things where it’s like you, you gotta adapt your place. But it’s interesting you talk about the pickup with Shopify. We actually turned our pickup off a few months ago because we had a lot of customers selecting pickup as their checkout method and they weren’t located in Florida. And we would message them and be like, so it gotta the point where we were spending so much time on customer service with our pickup option of like having them bill them for the shipping and then they would just cancel their orders.
We were like, okay, we’re gonna take, because we didn’t get that many pickups. We had maybe like just a few, a handful every week. Where like it’s, we prefer to just not have it, but we have delivery available and then we tell people, you can come here. So, maybe for the holidays we’ll turn it back [00:38:00] on. And if they’re expanding their technology, I mean they, there’s an option at checkout and it’s like a, it’s a separate fulfillment queue for the pickup orders.
And same with, we use the delivery right now. Because that way it goes by the address. So it’s the range of the address from us, so it’s not an issue. But the pickup, I didn’t want it to show to people who are, weren’t in Florida, and maybe they’re allowing that. Now, if your delivery or your billing address isn’t in Florida, I don’t want pickup to show for you because I don’t think you’re gonna actually come to pick up and then, you know, it’ll be a bit of a headache for me.
So to deal with the customer service. But maybe we can turn that feature back on during the holiday season because people did like it. And when they would come to pick up chances are they would end up buying something else, cause they would have to come in the building. I mean, if people were scared of the pandemic, I told ’em to just call me and I’d bring it to their car, put it in the trunk.
But we’re not, you know, it’s not quite the same. Target has the [00:39:00] option. I’m assuming you’ve never done a pickup, at target yet, but you know, you notify them when you’re heading out Target and then you notify them when you arrived at the parking lot and your space number, and then it like lets you know that it’s on the way and it gives you a code to give the person.
And I’ve just seen them change that over the year since I started in, you know, 2019 or whenever they started pickups available in my area, I was like, oh, this is great with the little kids. It was amazing. So I My husband laughs that almost every time we drive by a target, I have a pickup order. I’m like, oh, can we just like, we have to go there.
I just have an order to pick up. Like I almost always have a target pickup order waiting with one or two things for the house or whatever we need detergent and it’s just the convenience has outweighed using Amazon and the two day shipping and feeling like I’m getting a truck that drives into my neighbourhood.
I don’t need it, but I also do art and a lot of my art supplies I can’t find anywhere locally, so that’s been [00:40:00] killing me. I’m trying to find local or US based suppliers for some of my art materials, and it’s just, some of them are so unique that I can only find it on Amazon at like a reasonable price, so, or a website I can use.
So a lot of these companies. That’s the other thing is some of these other specialty industries, they need to adapt their websites for mobile. Like they haven’t done it yet. And I’m just like, what? What are you waiting for? Now? We’re about to launch a new version of our website that’s a Shopify 2.0 theme. We were on a theme that our developer built off of it’s like a custom theme, but he built it off of a standard theme on Shopify, the debut.
And it was a 1.0 theme, and I think about six months ago, or maybe 10 months ago, the Shopify launched 2.0 themes that are more dynamic and faster. So we’re getting ready to launch that theme shortly. And I’m only looking at it on mobile when I’m testing it. I, my developer keeps. [00:41:00] He gives me pushback cuz he looks at it as desktop and I’m like, I only am looking at it as a mobile view.
I’m not even bothering with desktop because desktop converts so high already and I know everything’s gonna work because he’s looking at it on desktop that I’m like, I don’t even need to waste the time there. And then I have a team that’s dealing with our conversion rate optimization. So they look at it from every angle, but the ones that I wanna care about is just mobile and some of the smaller industries
are gonna have to think like these smaller mom pop like little companies that haven’t adapted to the pandemic or anything. They need to get it mobile first. That’s my, I do pottery. So the clay supplier the website, you cannot use it on your phone. It’s like old school. It’s, it feels like geo scapes or geo cities back in the day.
Zan: Yeah, MO Mobile is. Is definitely something that people overlook. It. It’s interesting you bring it up because earlier [00:42:00] today I was actually looking at your data and data from a couple of other clients and just mashing it together. Mobile, cause like the mobile traffic is 88% of traffic across our client portfolio,
and you mentioned that people convert more on desktop, but actually I don’t know if you noticed that, but if you look at people moving through the websites, it’s typically people make a buying decision on their phone, add products to their cart, and then they go to the desktop to pay. And that is, is causing a lot of these conversion rates as well because people are just buying more comfortable paying for on desktop, but they make shopping decisions on their phones. Now you shared with me your art projects the last time we spoke, and you also mentioned the new theme launch right now. So those are already two exciting projects that you have going on. Which other projects, or maybe one of those two is something that you’re really focusing on the most [00:43:00] right now and are looking forward the most to sharing with your audience.
Ayelet: So we’re, I’m very excited to see the response to the new website and I’m excited to see just the speed, cuz that’s something the Shopify they give you the speed report and it’s always low. I mean, I have not seen a website above 70% consistently that actually has google tracking like pixels installed, has Facebook pixels, has a chat bot, has, you know, functionality that I’m like, I’m not giving up the non-negotiable functionality that I’m excited to see
if that improves the speed, which in turn will improve customer experience. A lot of our demographic is older, but so they’re not as good with technology. But if you make it easy to use, They will use it. So I wanna see how they react to this new website and all that. So I’m excited to share that with my audience.
I’m a little bit [00:44:00] nervous about sharing it right before our Black Friday sales, but I think it’ll be okay. I think I have enough good people on my team. Thank God that we’ll be able to make sure that it goes okay when we switch websites. But I also, I’m excited to share some of these art projects locally and I think I might expand them
to be kits for people, but we are gonna be doing these more frames. I laser cut and that’s what you reminded me of the website. Like I add the laser cut materials to my cart in on mobile, but I actually go to my desktop to check out because I can’t see my cart properly with one of the laser cutting websites that I use and they’re like a young local company.
And I’m like, I don’t understand how your website is not like ama and it’s Shopify. I’m like, why is this still bad on mobile? But I go to a checkout on the desktop, so I actually have to do that today cause I need more materials for these workshops. We’re gonna do with moss art. So the moss is gonna be a preserved [00:45:00] moss.
We currently have a couple options that are completed. So I have a laser cutter and we design letters and custom designs that are then put, You know, wood against the moss sheets that we have, and it’s a real moss that gets preserved and died with natural dyes and then it requires no watering, but you get to add greenery to your space.
It doesn’t have the same effect of cleaning your space, but it definitely warms up any space that I’ve seen these pieces in. So it’s on our website. On the left hand side, you look at the botanical art. You can see all the different pieces that we have with that. For the holidays, we’re gonna launch this box that you then can add pieces of moss to, in different colors to make beautiful pieces.
We’re we, were gonna run some workshops locally for people to come here and kind of bring awareness in the area of our presence because we haven’t spent, we spent so much time [00:46:00] growing our e-commerce. We haven’t spent a lot of time on local campaigns. We’ve done some farmer’s markets. We did two years of farmer’s markets.
We’ve done other activities in the area. But they’re more popups and people don’t realize we have a permanent location they can come to when we do those popups. So I was like, if we invite everyone to come here, we have a beautiful space, we have beautiful plants, and we’ll do something, you know, maybe either martinis or wine and making art
pieces that you can bring home and then decorate your space that you’ve made. I think every one of them that we’ve tried making, I’ve had some people on my team try making them who aren’t artists necessarily, so that I see that, you know, everyone will create a beautiful piece to bring home. So I’m really excited to share that with our customers, for them to see it.
I’ll be curious to see if people want kits that they could do it at home, not necessarily in a workshop that’s more educational. So those are some things we’re definitely trying to [00:47:00] make, give people more unique experiences, but integrating plants into those experiences. I have actually tomorrow a workshop.
I need to prepare some stuff for a succulent arrangements for a workshop I’m gonna do in January for someone. And they wanted me to bring some pots and then explain like how to plant them, what the plants need. And teach people basically how to become planned parents, which I’m always happy to teach and share, you know, with my art.
I do other, I do resin art too, and I was trying to figure out how to incorporate that. I think I might do that with our terrariums, but not yet. But that, that’s, like, I, I have more ideas than I have time to, to execute them all. So that, that’s why main hold up is, is not enough time in the day.
Zan: Right. I mean, that that’s a typical problem, isn’t it?
Zan: I think what a lot like in it, it’s sometimes better to have more to do than, than not enough, so, , still, still doing better. Now. So anyone that’s in the area should definitely drop, drop by for one of [00:48:00] these workshops and see how, how you guys handle these.
Now, just before we, we wrap up my last question that maybe wraps the entire conversation. We talked a lot about the future of e-commerce already but how do you see Verdant Lyfe and everything that is around it. All, all the projects that you’re running for it and the e-commerce industry moving ahead in the future?
Ayelet: I really wanna get a stronger footprint with some of the more unique items that we sell and carry that you really can’t get anywhere. I, we have a mounted, we have some plants that are mounted. It’s hard to purchase mounted plants. It’s also hard to ship a mounted plant. So our mounted staggers are our most popular, but really more education around that.
Expanding our educational arm. I wanna get more content up on our website that is informative. And then also building out a good client base locally. And then for the third thing we [00:49:00] wanted really grow. We launched a corporate gifting program, but really wanna expand that option. Like we said, you know, people are working from home.
A lot of the companies have reduced, you know, overhead costs for space. I think they can send a plant from their company that might have a logo or the branding. I can do custom things. That’s like, Hey, you know, we wanted to make your space nicer to work in. When you’re working there, here’s like a plant for you to put on your desk or succulent or something.
That really just is a nice touch. So growing that over the holiday we still have a bunch, but we will keep growing that into the new year and getting someone who can manage some of that load will be part of our continued plans into 2023, which is insane. I can’t believe it. And then continuing I also wanna. That’s something we’re talking about is swap out some of our plants. Some of our plants don’t do well in shipping, and that’s part of the strategy. So in January [00:50:00] we’re gonna be doing like a last call for some plants that we’re just not gonna stock anymore. They’re not as hardy, they don’t do as well in shipping.
I mean, I know our customers want them but they’re gonna be just available locally for pickups, so we’re not gonna ship those. And really tailor down our assortment and create more content around the tailored down assortment that can show people how they can, you know, add to their space, add, you know, more clean air to their space.
And of course, what we always wanna do, more giveaways, more colabs with other brands to do giveaways and give back to a lot of our customers who follow us, engage us on social media too. So even if you’re not in the US you can give us a follow on Instagram. We try to do some interesting content that might inspire you and inspire you for your space.
How to decorate, how to do things. And some of the art projects we have coming, we’re gonna put on there too.
Zan: Great. And for anyone that’s in the eCommerce space, I think that looking at your marketing could be an inspiration as well. So they should, not copy too [00:51:00] much, but still they should still follow you for sure. Awesome. I think this is a good space for us to leave it, Now just before we do that if someone’s looking to make the space look better, if they’re looking to follow you around and the art projects or maybe even for, to work with you through your legal practice, where can people find you?
What else they should know?
Ayelet: So, if you message us through the Verdant Lyfe website, which is v e r d a n t, lyfe, l y f e. Dot com, I get all the customer service messages come directly to me so that I can see if anything’s an issue immediately. And then I have my mother helps me manage some of it. And some of our team answers it depending on priority but they can email me directly.
My name’s a Ayelet it’s spelled a y e l e t at verdant lyfe.com. And I’m mostly just registering trademarks now for my legal practice because I [00:52:00] burnout life has taken up. Thank God it’s grown and taken up a lot of my time. So we’re just sticking with trademarks for now. So that I can give, you know, even my clients in the legal practice, a good experience, but definitely reach out.
I’m always looking to collab. I’m always looking to get inspired and meet, you know, other cool people in the e-commerce space. And honestly, anywhere I’ve, I like meeting people doing interesting things,
Zan: Perfect. Awesome. So definitely people should check that out. I thank you for being on. This was fun as always, and I hope we can do this again
Ayelet: Thank you.
Ayelet: Definitely. I’m happy to be here and thank you for inviting me. I think it’s a great service that you’re giving through this podcast, and we’ll continue, you know, to be in touch and maybe we’ll be back down the road.
Zan: Perfect. All right.