Whether you are an event florist looking for another stream of revenue or a retail florist looking for new ways to find business, starting a flower shop online is a great idea and there's not a better time than right now.
Online shopping is not a new trend but, ever since COVID-19 started, it's become even more of a necessity for local businesses and consumers. Consumers are looking for contactless options and flower delivery is a natural fit.
Traditionally, florists have relied on wire services for connecting consumers looking for flowers to local florists. This was because creating a website with shopping enabled and advertising was difficult and expensive for an average florist to do. However, this is not the case with modern software and easy to use online tools.
Most people get very excited about starting with the website/online store first. You will save yourself a lot of work if you put more attention on planning and work towards that store once some key decisions have been made.
Follow these steps to start selling flowers online.
1. Define Your Target Customer
Who will you serve with your new online shop? Will it be similar to your current customer base or are you looking to attract a new type of customer?
This should help you decide if you want it attached to your current brand or perhaps create a new brand for your online shop. For example, if you cater to higher end client but want to capture more middle of the market consumers, you could create a separate brand for your online shop.
On the other hand, if you are trying to find another way engage your current client base you've developed over the years or find other ways to market to similar customers, then keeping it all together makes sense.
2. Find Your Niche
Take a look at your current local market and see what are some unmet needs when it comes to the floral space. Ask your customers, friends, neighbors and other local businesses. See which of those opportunities are best served by an online model (see below for some examples). Then figure out how your unique style fits into that unmet need. Where these overlap is where the magic happens.
3. Define Your Online Business Model
There isn't a one size fits all online business model. The great thing about establishing an online presence is the flexibility. Here are a few models that can work for both event and retail florists.
A La Cart Events
This is creating a packaged version of a custom event you would do as an event florist. This is the natural progression for an event florist into online transactions. Your customer can pick from a number of pre-defined designs and add and transact online saving you time and energy in creating something from scratch. These can be scheduled ahead of time, leaving you plenty of time to order the flowers and arrange these designs. The workflow will be similar to your custom events so not as many operational changes need to be made.
Offer a designer's choice option with some customizations like color and size. With this model, you won't have to worry about having specific flowers in stock, allowing you the flexibility of ordering what's in season or what works with your normal orders. You can start small with a limited number of arrangements you'll do a week. If you see you are selling out week after week, increase your orders.
Pre-Order Holidays Only
Want to make sure you are making money during popular holidays like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day? You can turn ordering on just for these holidays and get the additional revenue. Most people want to pre-order for these holidays so it gives you more time to plan for ordering and arranging.
Fresh Flowers Subscription
Subscription services are hot right now. With companies like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club paving the way, there seems to be a new subscription box service popping up every week. Not only is subscription a great business model that has recurring income for you, but it is also more predictable on the ordering side.
Already have a brick and mortar flower shop? Online is just another way for customers to shop your store. You can use the online store front to test new arrangements without having to put anything out on the shelf yet. Maybe you made a beautiful designer's choice bouquet, take a photo and load it up as a new product to see if it becomes your new best seller.
5. Consider Your Backend Processes
Now you might be thinking, so here is when I start to build my store right? No, actually, most people would start to do this right now but if you don't consider how orders will get processed and fulfilled, you might be setting yourself up for a logistical nightmare. Many people rush and get an online store setup and then realize it has no connection to their operational workflows leading to a lot of manual work and working in multiple systems.
Do you want your products to be able to be delivered, do you want in store pick up? How many days do you need to be able to fulfill orders. How will you manage these orders and make sure they get to the right people at the right time?
Thinking through these things will help you select the right tool(s) to help you run your online business.
6. Find the Right Tool to Build your Online Shop
Now that you know what you are looking for, time to select the right tool(s) for the job. You'll need a website with ordering capability and a backend to take manage your orders. Most e-commerce platforms/tools are made for shipping out products rather than deliveries. Although they will advertise deliveries, they are designed more for restaurant style deliveries that are not meant to be scheduled far in advance.
Curate Orders was designed with the needs of florists and is an all-in-one solution that takes care of the online store and backend all in one system. If you're an event florist, we have Curate Proposals, COGS, and Rentals too so you can manage your entire business all in one system.
Learn more about how Curate makes it easy to start an online flower shop.