Online Seed Sales Catching Up

March 11, 2005 - 12:40

Growers, retailers and breeders should start looking beyond their fellow neighboring competition and turn on their computers for a little more anxiety. According to a recent article in The Kansas City Star, since some of the more popular seed companies started selling seed on the Internet sales have skyrocketed.

Companies like W. Atlee Burpee & Co. of Warminster, Pa., who has traditionally been a typical catalog plant/seed company, have found out that the Internet is a great place to get orders. However, “Burpee still mails millions of catalogs each year and also sells its products at retail outlets. But these days, at least half the company's annual mail-order business comes from its online site at, said Don Zeidler, the company's director of direct marketing,” in The Kansas City Star.

Though Burpee would not give The Kansas City Star exact numbers, the company did say that “there is an ever-increasing number of gardeners going online.”

“As household Internet usage increases, people are becoming more confident with that as their purchasing medium,” said Larry Sommers, vice president of the National Gardening Association in the article.

“Most mail-order garden companies that also have online sites now generate 20 percent to 30 percent of their annual direct-mail sales from the Internet, said Randy Schultz, spokesman for the Mail-order Gardening Association,” stated the article.

Harris Seeds, Rochester, N.Y. has been feeling the same way. “Online sales at Harris Seeds have shown annual double-digit growth in the past few years, said Karen McGuire, national sales and marketing manager for the firm's vegetable division,” said The Kansas City Star.

One of the reasons that Burpee thinks this new found floral cyber craze has come about is because “one of the best things about online ordering is that the Internet is equally beneficial to customers and to Burpee. More information about products, wider availability of goods and quicker shipping are just a few benefits of online shopping,” said the article.

“’We can write so much more about products and our services online than we can in a catalog,” Zeidler said. “And if we are unsure of the availability of a certain product when we are preparing the catalog, we can't include that product in the catalog. But when we do know, we can put it online,’” the article stated.

As new products become available, they are immediately added to plant- and seed-sellers' online sites which is sometimes a lot faster than what growers, breeders and retailer can do, making it easier to get new plant materials sooner.

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