How Florists Can Adapt In 2022
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Do you feel like it's suddenly 2020 all over again? Just when we were starting to feel semi-normal, everyone around us seems to be contracting COVID. Prior to 2020 we were reading how the flower industry was dying. Shops were closing, jobs for designers were at an all-time low and more and more consumers were buying flowers through internet giants and by-passing their local florists.
Then came COVID and the world changed. Although some of these older predictions still hold true, the floral industry is strong - but the way we do business as florists is changing and in order to stay current we need to embrace this new world. We are living in a time of uncertainty and high stress.
Here are some ways to adapt to the future:
Rethink your storefront. On-line shopping is not going away and retailers need to rethink their brick and mortar presence. COVID changed everything about the retail experience - more people stayed home and preferred to shop through their computers. Many retailers are still suffering from high store expense and low walk-in traffic. It's no longer enough to have a store front and wait for customers to visit and shop. You have to create reasons for people to visit. If you don't own your space and have to rent, you might want to consider a smaller space or offer splitting your space with another retailer. I've visited a few of our customers who have turned their stores into multi purpose shopping experiences to attract more walk-in traffic. One store teamed up with a cafe and bakery, so customers had a destination to go to - while picking up their flower order. Another customer teamed up with a farmer and offers coolers of meats and cheeses from the farm, fresh seasonal vegetables, a summer farm share program, in addition to a thriving floral business. Both businesses are expanding even with the pandemic. Maybe there is a local consumable business you can partner with, or perhaps offer a pop up seasonal store at a local business to enhance your retail presence. Think of creative ways to safely bring customers to you and lessen your retail expenses.
Develop key relationships with your customers. Consumers are more demanding than ever. Younger demographics shop through social media. They are just more comfortable finding new items on-line and want shipments fast. They are quick to post reviews and base their buying decisions on what the latest trends are. They are less brand loyal and willing to try new things. These customers are on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube. They find out about most products through social networks. Older customers prefer in-person shopping and value the person to person relationship. They might be on Facebook more than Instagram, but tend to use the platform for building personal relationships, rather than shopping. If you have a strong base of older customers - chances are they are loyal and come back to you year after year. The reality is, you have a mix of both younger and older consumers and you must find ways to build relationships with both.
The internet is not going away and like it or not, you have to embrace it. If you aren't currently emailing your customers, showing your work on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, you are missing a world of business. I read an astounding statistic the other day. The highest shopping days of the year are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These days tend to predict what the holiday sales will be for retailers during the year and what the economic forecasts will be for consumer confidence. Most e-commerce brands have increased over 21% year over year. In 2021, Shopify (a payment platform for websites) reported that peak sales globally reached $3.1 million per minute on Black Friday. That's only one payment platform, among many on the internet. That is a stunning statistic and shows the power of on-line shopping.
In order to stay current, you must have a presence on social media and you must frequently promote your business. If you are technology challenged, or simply can't find the hours in the day - hire someone who can help you or have someone teach you what to do. Even if you do just some basics, I guarantee it will increase your sales.
Prepare for the wedding business to explode in 2022. If you thought you were busy this year with weddings, get ready for 2022. According to The Wedding Report, there will be an estimated 2.5 million weddings in 2022, which is the most the U.S. has seen since 1984. To put that in context, there were about 2.1 million weddings per year before the pandemic and just 1.2 million weddings in 2020, due to pandemic cancellations. Make sure you're organized and staffed to take on more weddings in 2022.
Stay flexible in your flower choices. Getting product will continue to challenge us. The cost of freight, shortage of truck drivers, closing of farms in 2020, changes in weather, and demand outpacing supply are all factors that won't go away in 2022. How do you prepare? Order product early to secure your place in line. Price your labor and product accordingly as cost of goods and freight rise. Be prepared to substitute flowers when what you want is not available. Use more dried flowers in your designs. We saw this first hand in Holland - dried flowers are making a big come-back, and they might be more readily available than fresh, so make sure you incorporate dried into your designs. Dried flowers come in all styles and colors - so there are lots of choices to use with fresh.
Whatever challenges are ahead of us in 2022, we will need to learn new ways of doing business and be flexible enough to change with the times. Business is fluid and in order to succeed, we must all learn to innovate, be creative and adapt to change.
"We develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and obstacles."