When most retailers are knee-deep managing the demands of their Black Friday and Christmas peak, florists are in the process of gearing up, knowing their own intense peak is still to come. Valentine’s Day sees people in the UK collectively spending around £261 billion on flowers – and in some cases, February 14th alone accounts for a third of florists’ annual sales.

And unlike Christmas gifts, you can’t buy flowers three months ahead and keep them hidden from your significant other in a cupboard! Having a range of delivery options, including same day for panicked consumers who’ve forgotten to plan ahead, is an important competitive advantage for florists. There’s a lot at stake however you look at it.

That one day, coming up soon, creates a level of pressure and expectation second to none. And some recent research we carried out suggests a number of florists – and the couriers and delivery companies they employ – aren’t always getting it right. 

It found that more than half (54%) of the Twitter reviews of floral delivery services last February were negative. Almost a quarter (23%) of the tweets involved customers mentioning their flowers never arriving, while around one in ten were from people who were unhappy about the poor service they’d received.

There are 7,500 florists in the UK vying for business, plus a wealth of online services, so getting delivery right this Valentine’s Day is a competitive advantage. They need their delivery partners to step up their game.

Manage the February 14th pain points

Florists should be looking for delivery partners with a track record in delivering difficult, emotional or sensitive products. Groceries and prescription medicines face similar difficulties to flowers, particularly with regard to timeliness, security, freshness and refrigeration, so a delivery partner that does well there is likely to be better placed to understand their industry.

The biggest issue for Valentine’s Day in particular is the extreme pressure on supply chains during just a few days of the year. According to the BBC, for every extra day spent travelling, flowers lose 15% of their value. 

Some florists will want to work with a courier to run a pilot and be ready for rapid delivery before those busy times arrive. A well-planned pilot programme will allow them to work through all the important operational dependencies. 

Rather than add to an existing delivery capacity, florists can also look to a transportation partner to supplement their fleet in the run-up to February 14th. Customers will likely want speed over cost, and may even be willing to upgrade and pay extra for faster delivery and the ability to track a bouquet’s journey. A range of delivery options can pay dividends.

Be a trusted partner

There are a number of simple ‘top tips’ for florists to offer a better delivery experience on Valentine’s Day. They can use a same-day carrier rather than putting flowers in hard-to-transport water buckets for last mile delivery, with stems wrapped in damp paper towels and a plastic bag. They can pad a box with newspaper to keep bouquets safe and add freezer packs to bouquet packages that are travelling long distances.

But there are also bigger-picture steps they can take. Florists can take on partners that understand their business and are able to suggest improvements in packaging and preparation ahead of delivery. They can work with couriers that use technology to improve communications between them and their customers, have a plan in place for when recipients aren’t there to take their flowers, and offer multi-drop services to improve efficiency.

Most of all, they need to ensure they’re working with companies they can trust. They can check their partners’ Trustpilot reviews and ask them about their Net Promoter Score (NPS) – a measure of how likely it is their customers will recommend them.

Retailers work with third parties to support the peaks in demand, and florists’ peaks are such that they’re faced with scaling Mount Everest every February 14th. It only makes sense for them to work with delivery partners as well, but they’ll want to know those businesses are both expert and trustworthy.

By Patrick Eve, Chief Commercial Officer at same-day delivery business Gophr

By Alison