Solutions to supply chain challenges that make us all happy
March 9, 2022
By Dana Altum
Regular people like us are talking about the supply chain like we used to talk about the weather. Everyone has a story about a backordered couch, missing microchips for cars or epic shipping delays. We’re more aware than ever about parts, ingredients and natural resources, and where they come from.
But plants are different, right? Not exactly. They don’t require parts and assembly, but they do need time. And there’s no rushing how quickly trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals will grow.
Then factor in the pandemic. Businesses had downtime, labor shortages and people were out sick and worse. There was unseasonably cold weather in southern states, droughts, fires and shortages of everything from lumber to lemons. Now gas prices are soaring and transport is expensive.
Is it any wonder people turned to plants?
People were home, lonely and craving connection. Plants were quiet company, pretty, uncomplicated. We wanted our homes to be a refuge from the chaos, and getting outside kept us from going a little crazy. It still does.
Planting is therapeutic, good for our physical and mental well being and watching our plants grow gives us a sense of peace and accomplishment.
This moment in the spotlight that plants are still experiencing was an unexpected, but welcome surprise. More people are finally discovering what we’ve always known: plants make everything better.
But growers aren’t mind readers.
Demand for plants hit an all-time high over the last couple years, something growers couldn’t have expected. And everything from plastic pots and many of the materials used to make fertilizer are in short supply.
Good thing we’re resilient in this industry. We have to be. Much of what we do is dependent upon the weather and time. But many people were forced to pivot. We were lucky enough to keep doing what we’ve always done.
There is no green industry supply chain issue that can’t be solved with communication chain solutions.
Lucky for us, we’ve always believed in the best practice of working with local growers whenever we can. We’ve shortened the supply chain and worked on a strong and personal communication chain.
We’ve not only formed partnerships with trusted local growers, but we’ve had many of these relationships for decades. We know we can count on each other to be flexible and resilient. These are relationships my dad, Bob, started and ones I’ve invested in and relied on. My son Kirk is talking with the next generation of family farmers and growers.
We’ve also diversified a bit for specialty trees, shrubs and seasonal items, working with best-in-class growers in a business we all believe in.
ALL THIS TO SAY, WE’VE FOUND A WAY TO GET YOU WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU WANT IT, AND PRE-ORDERING IS A WIN FOR ALL OF US.
We really started focusing on e-commerce about 10 years ago. We knew the data showed that even when people didn’t buy online, they did research online. We added more resources and plant material to our website. Naturally, it was convenient to go one step further and ‘Buy Now.’
We always based online sales on inventory. And then we realized if we could determine demand ahead of time, we could give you more choices, reserve your order early with our grower, then have it ready when the weather was right and you were ready to plant.
In 2022, our entire Spring Collection went online for pre-order in February.
We’ve listed Spring Porch Pots, pansy flats and bowls, perennials like hellebores, hydrangeas and lilacs. There are shrub and tree favorites and harder-to-find varieties. And pre-ordering makes it possible to shorten if not eliminate shipping delays, especially when trucks are coming from farms in Indiana.
Pre-ordering is smart. It’s a sustainable way to do business and eliminate waste. It’s a way for us to offer you as many choices and alternatives as possible, especially when they are in short supply. It ensures that product is fresh and ready to thrive when you bring it home. And it’s so easy to do online, with options to choose your pick-up or delivery date.
Give it a try if you haven’t already and let us know what you think. We’ll be watching for other ways to bring you more of what you want in a convenient way, and we’ll always be focused on the overall experience, online, in-store and when you get our plants home.
The Spring Open-Air Market is Coming Soon
For now, Altum’s is open online for pre-orders and the Altum’s Open-air Market will be ready for pick-ups and deliveries beginning March 25. In-market shopping will begin in April, dependent upon weather. We’ll keep you posted.
You can find Altum’s this April at 795 US-421 (Michigan Rd). When you pass the Fire Department on your left, look right to see the Altum’s sign and entrance. We can’t wait to see our people again soon!