The Name: Bloom & Wild
The Place: In your letterbox right now! Actually it’s an online business started in the Autumn of 2013 but letterboxes are going to figure highly, trust me.
The Story: We’ve just had Valentine’s Day when Bloom & Wild were probably dealing with a lot of stressed and difficult people with floral queries a plenty who rarely deal with flowers.
Ah, picky girlfriends is it? Roses not red enough. Didn’t arrive on time: No, actually it’s the men.
Now that cannot be right. Men buy flowers for women all the year round. And that is a fact: No, no and thrice no. The flower gifting market is 75% female buyers and the recipients are 95% female. Women buy flowers for other women and they send them long distance. Men only buy flowers for the women they live with or see all the time, i.e. their partners, so delivery is not even an important thing for them. And on the very rare occasion they do buy, it will be a big showy bouquet whereas a woman is often trying to make a smaller gesture to show they are thinking of someone. Hence all the bouquets in the company’s range are given women’s names.
OK, OK. Smarty, what else do you know about flowers: Lots. Aron Gelbard the CEO of Bloom & Wild has been researching this market for some time. Initially he wanted to set up an online flower ordering service with various market beating innovations. Namely the freshest, the most convenient, and available through a subscription service – very popular for the company as it gives a constant stream of guaranteed income.
Ambitious. But surely loads of people are already doing this including you know who – the ‘I’ word: Yes, you are allowed to say Interflora. Gelbard’s point on freshness is that internet orders are very low down the pecking order for the florists hooked into Interflora. Also Bloom & Wild deal direct with growers whereas most others go via wholesalers who mainly just sell Dutch flowers. Some of these flowers will last 4- 5 days no problem but some others have a far shorter shelf life and the internet order being the poor relation tends to get those blooms.
Can I just check how big this flower market is? It’s worth £2 billion. £600 million of that is gifting. And £300 million of that is online ordering. And 1-2% of that online ordering is letterbox delivery. And Bloom & Wild reckons on having most of that niche to itself.
Right. I’ll do that calculation later. As you were: So the next USP was going to be a unique subscription service. Gelbard is happy to admit being inspired by another Innovative Retailer Graze that operates a similar system for weekly snack boxes. However, although you certainly can take out a subscription with Bloom & Wild, they soon realised that subscriptions work best for goods that one is buying for oneself.
How so? It is unlikely for example that you will need to send weekly/monthly bouquets to someone else – birthdays and special occasions aren’t that common. So it is always going to be more of a gift to yourself. However, it’s also an emotional purchase and people tend to go to the supermarket and just choose what they fancy at that very moment on that particular day.
Aha, what about business customers brightening their office reception with flowers? You’d think so. But it turns out they are more likely to use a localised shop, have a long standing relationship with that shop and be very picky about designs. So to cut a long story short…
Please do: Bloom & Wild decided that the optimum opportunity was going to be flower gifting of the most convenient kind with a subscription option, which brings us seamlessly to letterboxes. Kind of!
Well, I can tell you one thing. Ain’t no flowers fitting through my letterbox: Now once again that is where you are so wrong as 90% of letterboxes will fit a box 60cm long by 3.8cm high and 18.4cm wide.
You really need to get out more: Although they are experimenting with possibly 3.5cm high which could lead to an expansion in the range for bigger flower heads or more stems.
There’s probably a counsellor you can speak to: With some tricks of the trade they could look to go to 30 stems. Currently the maximum is 20 and focused on a narrow range of suitable varieties.
In that tiny box? Surely not: Oh yes. They put heads at both ends, place netting on the heads to compress them to the exact box size, which prevents them moving around, and cut some stems shorter – just little tricks of the trade. And of course that element of surprise is one of the big innovations for the brand. People don’t expect to come home from work, find a cardboard box on their mat which when they open it is full of flowers.
I can’t deny it is convenient for the sender and the recipient: Absolutely. There is none of the usual conferring you need to do over dates when someone is in or isn’t in to sign for the package. Or what bin to put things in if they don’t fit. It really will be a total surprise. The flowers will even last for a couple of days in the box with no adverse effects.
I suppose I should ask about pricing at some point: Well, the entry point is pitched at £20 but the most popular orders retail at around £25. But of course that includes the Royal Mail first class delivery, whereas with other suppliers you will be adding a £7-8 delivery charge to the bill.
So the competition is you know who and who else? Well Interflora is the biggest with revenues of £100 million and is in a strong position just because everyone knows it. It’s the first thing people google. However, it scores consistently low marks on customer service. And also there’s Marks & Spencer – but flowers isn’t its bread and butter. It’s an add on – their online objective is to sell you clothes so Bloom & Wild with their purpose-built and optimised technology platform should score better on the customer order experience.
And what are the prospects for our intrepid flower sellers? They do an average of several thousand orders a week, an increase of seven fold on last year. And the mantra is that today’s recipients are tomorrow’s buyers so coupons are put in with every order plus they let you bookmark important dates and will send a reminder that flowers are due several days before. There is a national customer spread in evidence although the recipient base is much broader than the sender base (the latter skewed to affluent areas), however the idea that boxed flowers are an affordable luxury for all seems to be working.
Any new ventures on the cards? A central London delivery option now exists – within 2 hours via Shutl but still through the front door. And they had a great success with Christmas trees in the post – a real win for the single householders who make up such a big part of the UK demographic now.
Now, that just has to be a joke: No really, tiny Christmas trees for one. Couldn’t sell them fast enough. They are also branching out into orchids and gift boxes for men – mainly for existing customers who know them as a flower company primarily. And going international is a consideration.
Hark, what thud on yonder doormat breaks? Dunno.
Could it be an unknown admirer sending me the Seraphina bouquet? Doubt it.
Ahem: Oh, right. I’ll get onto it now.
PCMS is a global provider of IT software and services for the retail industry. PCMS offers a full-range of integrated commerce solutions across selling touch points and also provides turnkey managed services and cloud hosting. Its client list includes John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Whole Foods, as well as Walgreens in the US and fashion brands including Prada and Ferragamo across Europe.