Hello, Opportunity! Just Back that Truck Up Here!
by Cindy Hanauer
Don’t you just love that beeping sound of a truck backing into the dock with a full load of goods to sell? That blaring sound is officially called a “vehicle in motion alarm”, and even the backroom accountants can hear the 112-decible sound! But the “vehicle in motion” alarm indicates much more than a truck backing up. It’s our official sign that all the pieces of the supply chain came together, and we have yet another chance to push our collective sales initiatives forward to our retail customers.
But the “rules” of retail have changed, haven’t they - predicated with the introduction of revolving credit in the 1960s followed closely by the initiation of online purchasing in the 1970s. Quite simply, if a customer owned a debit card, they could shop with a metal shopping cart or a virtual one. Today, retail continues to become blurred, borderless and uninhibited by buildings.
So, how does this affect the floral industry and ultimately you, as a wholesaler? The evolution of retail from what it was, to what it is today will require us to change our thinking-new ways to use ground transportation, buildings, production lines, coolers and other services that your retailer may need in this new environment. How can a wholesaler think differently in this retail transformation and create breakthrough strategies for the future?
Here are five of my ideas, and I hope you’ll add even more to the comment section below. Let’s think outside the box…. or better yet, let’s get rid of the box completely!
- Fulfillment Services
A fulfillment service is a third-party warehouse that is used to package individual e-commerce orders and deliver them to a drop-shipper (Fed-Ex, UPS, etc) for final delivery to the recipient. Today, 88% of a typical e-commerce floral company’s sale is handled through fulfillment services, located strategically throughout the United States. Many of these fulfillment centers are wholesalers or bouquet production companies, with obvious facilities and people who already know how to handle flowers. Additionally, the emergence of traditional florists and supermarkets incorporating drop-ship deliveries into their programs, indicates that this phenomenon is teed up for significant growth in the years to come.
- Home Delivery and Last Mile
The customers’ demand for immediate delivery has reinvented the last mile of the supply chain. Subsequently, billions of investment dollars are being infused into companies like Deliv, UberRUSH and Amazon Flex, who are organizing independent drivers to pick up and deliver packages using a centralized GPS route management system. A world that was once reliant on FedEx, UPS and the post office, now, has many more choices to meet the consumers’ demand for immediacy and this need will grow exponentially as ecommerce and drop-shipping continues to become more commonplace. How can a wholesaler’s built-in network of delivery vehicles and knowledge of flower-handling fit into this growth of the future? Let us count the ways!
- Photography Services
How has iStock Photo, Shutterstock, Getty Photos and Adobe Stock become so big? Because they’ve ridden on the tails of online selling and offered photography to support the need. Almost every traditional florist, supermarket florist and e-commerce company require thousands of photos to operate their online marketing and social media businesses, and yet, most do not have time to stop and take photos for their website and social media sites. Is there an opportunity to fill this void by allocating a small area of your building for floral-specific photography and offering photography services? How big is the need? In 2019, Shutterstock alone, reported revenue of $634 million, with a following of 8 million Facebook fans and 3 million Twitter followers. Yes…. selling pictures is big business.
- Design Studio Rental
As more traditional florists are leaving their storefronts and booking events from home, the need for a design studio, cooler and delivery service will continue to increase. With a little advertising, how much additional revenue could be created in renting studio space and offering auxiliary storage and delivery services? In fact, how about a combo deal? For every $100 of flowers purchased, a certain amount of studio time will be included FREE!
- Consumer Flower Arranging Parties
Could your facility and built-in cooler space serve as a great location for consumer flower arranging classes, hosted by your florist designers? Customer crafting classes like, “Paint with a Twist” and “Alice’s Table” have become an adult’s playground where a group of friends get together, sip beverages, learn the art of flower arranging and take their masterpieces home with them. These “girls’ night out” events are going mainstream, and what’s more fun than flower arranging?
Share Your Thoughts
- What do you see on the horizon for wholesalers as a “value-added” service in today’s new retail environment?
- What new retail trends do you see that the wholesaler community could become part of?
- What topics would you like to read about? Tell me here and I’d love to write about it!
About Our Writer
Cindy Hanauer was born into a 4-generation lineage of florists, with her ancestors emigrating from Germany in 1875 to open their first florist shop and greenhouse in the United States. As a small child in the 1960's, Cindy watched and learned how the perseverance and strong work ethic of her maternal grandparents could deliver the delight of plants and flowers to thousands. The floral industry became part of her DNA.
In 1974, Cindy began her 40-year career at the very beginning of the mass market floral industry, holding leadership positions in every segment of the business: Retail Sales, Visual Merchandising, Product Development, Field Training, Category Management, Marketing, Quality Assurance, and Supply Chain. From there, she expanded her career into the technology side of the industry by successfully managing the Merchandising, Quality Assurance and Supply Chain of a major e-commerce floral and gift platform.
Today, Cindy shares her knowledge and experience with all channels of the floriculture industry from supply chain to consumer. She's a veteran speaker who’s appeared in major radio and television, and is a published educator in major trade magazines and newspapers. Cindy has an industry following of 10,000+ on social media, her B2B website and weekly B2B e-newsletter, GrandCentralFloral.com.
Cindy is currently a trustee for the American Floral Endowment and has donated her time to over ten other industry trade organizations. She's an award-winning visual merchant and a technology enthusiast. In her Northeast Florida community, Cindy is a philanthropic vocalist and performs with three vocal organizations where 100% of the concert proceeds are donated to local organizations who provide free family services, medical support, dreams and comfort to children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.