The Amazon factor

One garden center’s take on the online retail giant’s expansion into plant sales.

Amazon recently launched an official Plants Store, which includes everything from succulents to shrubs.

It’s no secret that Amazon, the massive online retailer owned by Jeff Bezos (who was ranked the wealthiest person in history earlier this year), is a revolutionary influence in the wider commerce industry. The platform, which facilitates online retail as well as audio and video streaming services, posted a $1.9 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Recode.

This year, the company made overtures toward launching an automated grocery, titled “Amazon Go.” The experimental brick-and-mortar storefront promises a shopping experiences free of checkouts and registers and is acting as a testing ground for automated retail technology. However, as much of a major development Amazon Go is, it’s not the only move the company is making in 2018.

In February, Amazon officially launched a new addition to its already sprawling offering of products: the Amazon Plants Store. The new department carries a wide variety of live green goods supplied by various growers, with plant information provided in the listings. The Amazon Plants Store can be a concerning prospect for more traditional garden retailers, but others see an opportunity to sell their plants using Amazon’s powerful online presence and e-commerce infrastructure. For more on how the general horticulture industry is responding to the Amazon Plants Store, read our cover story.

We wanted to know how our readers feel about Amazon’s increased investment in plant retailing, and asked for your thoughts in the April issue of Garden Center. Robert James, store manager at The Garden Factory in Rochester, N.Y. (#27 on our 2017 Top 100 IGCs List), says that despite Amazon’s growing relevance among consumers, he expects that people will still seek out in-store garden center experiences.

“I still believe people need to go into a garden center to buy a plant,” he says. “I don’t understand how people buy [plants] sight unseen.”

However horticultural businesses adapt to this shake-up in online plant retail, Amazon is likely to continue innovating and changing the game for various industries.

“They’ve done a lot in the industry, for a lot of different things,” James says of Amazon. “They’ve changed the world. They’ll be changing more, too.”

It’s not too late to weigh in! What are your thoughts on the Amazon Plants Store? How do you think independent garden centers will be affected? Are you interested in selling plants online?

Email associate editor Julianne Mobilian at and let us know what you think.

May 2018
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