In the “Success Stories” section of the Ecwid blog, we publish the real-life stories of business owners who run their online stores with Ecwid by Lightspeed. Here you can meet fellow entrepreneurs and learn how to use Ecwid to make a thriving business.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Collins and Christian Ylagan. They are owners of Tropicouture Plants—an online store that sells unusual, rare, and hard-to-find tropical plants.
Not only do Christian and Jason have a green thumb, but they also know how to run a business from a tiny screen. We interviewed them to find out more about their rare plant business and how they manage to fulfill all their business operations with just a phone.
Yes, you read that right—managing a store from the palm of your hand is not only possible but highly convenient.
Read on to find out more about Tropicouture Plants and what tools Christian and Jason recommend to entrepreneurs willing to create a blooming business.
Meet the People Behind Tropicouture Plants
Tropicouture Plants started as a passion project for Jason Collins and Christian Ylagan from London, Ontario in Canada. They’re just a couple of people who really love plants.
Jason is an Ontario native who has always had a keen interest in exotic flora and fauna. Growing up, he had strong business acumen, as exhibited by how he and his brothers were selling self-propagations of various houseplants to their neighbors at a young age. He has a special place in his heart for aroids and orchids: he always kept a number of specimens throughout the years in every place he’s lived in.
Christian grew up in the Philippines but came to London by way of Edmonton, AB. As a young boy, he grew up with a tropical jungle in his backyard, growing all sorts of aroids, flower bushes, and even fruit trees. One of his dreams is to introduce the various tropical plants of his childhood to a greater audience, helping to bring these specimens to Canada in sustainable and ethical ways.
While Jason is the savvy numbers guy and head gardener at Tropicouture Plants, Christian is the in-house creative and Front-of-House manager. Together, they have made Tropicouture Plants a thriving business.
Growing Rare Plants Is Just like Growing a Business
Christian and Jason have taken care of plants all their lives. Then, with COVID-related lockdowns, they began to notice the lack of reputable sellers in Canada for tropical plants, especially those who show exceptional care for rare specimens.
Jason and Christian decided to import a few plants on their wish list themselves, plus some others they thought they could rehabilitate with proper care and eventually sell. That was the beginning of Tropicouture Plants.
Our first plant order was a tiny shipment of thirty plants, and now we regularly bring in plants in the hundreds. Christian Ylagan
Now Christian and Jason provide access to hundreds of rare tropical plants that one would not normally see in North America. Their goal is to cultivate a plant-centric lifestyle focused on community, sustainability, and proper husbandry.
What makes Tropicouture Plants different from other sellers and plant importers is their exacting standards around every facet of their business:
sustainable sourcing and ethical trading exceptional customer service building excellent connections providing the “wow” factor befitting their rare products getting a rare plant in everyone’s hands.
Thanks to those principles, Jason and Christian’s business is blooming. They successfully bring rare and uncommon specimens of tropical plants, such as aroids and hoyas, to a houseplant-obsessed Canadian audience.
As plant lovers who have access to a winter wonderland during the cold season and to sunny, humid summerscapes during the warm season, our customers are in a unique position to care for tropical plants. Christian Ylagan
Running an Online Store on Mobile
Not only are the Tropicouture Plants owners innovative with their store and plants, but they also don’t follow the road-most-traveled when operating their business. While many online store owners rely on desktops when managing their shop and orders, Jason and Christian unlocked the convenience of running a store with the Ecwid Mobile app.
They say that the Ecwid Mobile app has been a powerful tool for them in terms of inventory management, order and operations management, and customer service. The only thing they use the Ecwid desktop admin for is the website design aspect.
The Tropicouture Plants owners use the Ecwid Mobile app mainly for:
Order management. They have set it up so that they get push notifications about new orders in the app and update order statuses. They can also find and edit order details for customers. Inventory management. They add new products, upload product photos taken with their camera phones, update product details, and change prices—all in the app! Most importantly, they can use the app to track and control stock levels to avoid overselling. Customer service. They keep customers informed, automatically or manually, directly right from the app. Business analytics. The app allows them to see sales stats and reports, such as the number of store visitors, orders received, revenue, started checkouts, and placed orders.
We use the Ecwid Mobile app to manage almost every aspect of our business, from keeping track of orders, managing inventory numbers, contacting our customers, and accessing our business analytics. Christian Ylagan
Sometimes Jason and Christian sell their plants at trade shows and botanical conventions. That’s another time when the app comes in handy—they use it to create orders and accept payments from customers in-person.
Integration with Sell on the Go also allows us to process orders when we do trade shows and botanical conventions quickly and efficiently. Christian Ylagan
The Ecwid Mobile app can be used to design the online store, add payment and shipping options, and run promotions with discount coupons and free shipping. You can also use the app to set up marketing tools like abandoned carts recovery, launch new sales channels, like selling on Facebook or Instagram, and much more!
The Ecwid Mobile App is a hub for all the things that we need quick and easy access to, and it allows us to engage with most aspects of our business from our fingertips. Christian Ylagan
Other Ecwid Tools Christian Recommends
The Ecwid Mobile app isn’t the only tool Jason and Christian use to run their business.
To create their ecommerce website, they used Ecwid Instant Site. It is a one-page ecommerce site with a built-in online store that can be created with zero coding or design skills.
For advertising, they use the Kliken Marketing: Google Campaigns and Retargeting app. This allows them to quickly set up Google ads and see how they are performing.
In addition, they utilize Ecwid’s social selling tools for setting up a store on Facebook and Instagram. Their online store is synced with the Meta platforms so that selling is efficient and accessible. Customers can explore the selection of plants without leaving the Tropicouture Plants Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Christian recommends exploring all the tools Ecwid offers so that you find the ones that make the most sense for your business.
There are a lot of features in Ecwid, so make sure you explore every aspect to discover the breadth of what you can do with it. Next is to read the blog posts as a lot of new and helpful information can be found there. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for support through channels like chat or email. Christian Ylagan
Christian’s Go-to Tips for Online Sellers
Jason and Christian have big plans for their business, including having a bigger back-end footprint to accommodate all their growing products and expanded inventory of plant-related accessories. They also want to further professionalize and personalize the website as well as gain a better handle on leveraging analytics to further grow their business.
Do you have some business plans in mind? Learning from relatable experience often helps create reachable goals. That’s why we asked Christian to share some advice for fellow entrepreneurs who would like to create a thriving online business. Here is what he recommends, based on his own entrepreneurial experience:
Research your market. Know your market if you want your product to succeed. Research is key! Set up everything you need to sell and promote your store. Make sure you set up all your integrations with Ecwid, including your payment processors, your ad managers, accounting software, etc. Organize and track your business processes. As soon as possible, start keeping track of every aspect of your business; things can take off really quickly, so it’s best to be prepared! Be there for your customers. Customer connection is a really important part of a small business, especially one that is fully online or web-based. Make it easy for your customers to reach out to you. Be responsive and approachable! Have a curious attitude and be ready to wear different hats. There are so many aspects of a business that you may have to learn on the fly. For example, we had to learn about taxation, basic accounting, web design, and AV content creation as our business took off. Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Go out there and meet people in entrepreneur-focused spaces like conventions or expos, even if you are a web-based business. Keep a work-life balance. Be prepared to put in the hours to grow your business, but draw boundaries, so it doesn’t take over your entire life.
Share Your Story on the Blog
In the “Success Stories” section of the Ecwid by Lightspeed blog, you can get to know fellow merchants and learn from first-hand experience.
If you’d like to share your experience running an Ecwid store or give advice to fellow entrepreneurs on how to use Ecwid tools to the fullest, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll take it from there!
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