How to prepare your floral business for a unique holiday season
The holiday season is a major income source for the floral industry every year. But 2020 is no typical year: Holiday sales are even more vital with all the hardships we’ve endured from this global pandemic. There’s no question that physical store closures, limited inventory, and supply chain constraints have been issues.
Moreover, online spending has exploded due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Many florists who traditionally depended on brick and mortar sales have been scrambling to get their website and online marketing in order.
To be ready for the holiday season, you need to be available to your customers when and where they want to buy—online—and sell the products they want at a price they’re willing to pay. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this most unusual holiday season.
Determine Your Holiday Season Goal
When you precisely define your goal, you’ll be able to make all your actions align to achieving it. Make sure your goal is SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Say you want to increase online sales this year, and you know that most of your customers aren’t coming into your store to buy right now. Your goal could be “increase our online sales from customers who’ve previously purchased in-store by 30% this year.”
Once you’ve determined your goal, work out the metrics which will show how well your actions lead to success. Examples are email and SMS open rates/click rates/conversion rates, website conversion rates, list growth, and revenue. Monitor your results daily and pivot as necessary: Test your subject lines, calls to action, website product placement, and timing of your communications.
Effectively Merchandise Your Products Online
If you haven’t yet optimized your website for a streamlined online shopping experience, this should be one of the first steps you take. Experts project 2020 to be the most successful year ever in terms of online sales, expected to top $1.1 trillion for the first time in history.
Research has shown that discounts will be the biggest driver of holiday purchases this year, which is no surprise. Deloitte’s annual retail holiday survey backs this up: 81 percent of holiday purchases are influenced by promotions, the three most popular being price discounts, free shipping, and BOGOs.
A great way to merchandise your floral products is to offer bundles, such as a flower arrangement and a seasonal vase or decoration, at a slight discount when purchased together.
You can also look at your inventory and offer a percentage discount on any excess floral products. Conversely, if you choose to provide a discount on something that sells well, make sure it’s a small one and for a limited time only so that you don’t condition your customers to expect discounts all the time.
You can also encourage a customer to buy multiple products for an added incentive. For example, if the average price of an arrangement is $40, your offer could be “spend $50 or more and get a $20 gift card”. This offer will encourage a customer to buy more than one arrangement, which will be well above the $50 price point.
Another successful promotional idea is “refer a friend,” where you give a customer a discount on their arrangement when they refer another person who also purchases flowers from your store. This results in not only more sales, but more new customers.
Personalize Experiences for Different Types of Customers
Before creating one piece of promotional material, it’s vital to know who your customers are and what they want. That way, you can segment them and design personalized experiences for them. Here are a few common customer types and ways to market to them:
- The Bargain Hunter: This customer wants the best deal and will go wherever they can get it; they don’t have much—if any—brand loyalty. Market to the bargain hunter by featuring the deal front and center in your email subject lines and SMS messages. And build a Facebook custom audience just for this type of shopper, to capture their attention and send them to your website for the “deal of the day.”
- The VIP: This is everyone’s favorite customer, the repeat shopper who loves what you offer and refers you to others. Include a handwritten thank-you note with every floral purchase, telling them how much you value them. Offer this customer VIP programs, where you let them know in advance about a new floral product or sale before anyone else. The VIP is also an ideal customer for loyalty programs which offer rewards with a certain number of purchases or dollar amount purchased.
- The Window Shopper: This potential customer browses your website and may even put items in the shopping cart but leaves before buying. The window shopper is the perfect candidate for a browse abandonment or abandoned cart email (see below). You can also build a Facebook custom audience to target window shoppers on social media and include user-created content in your posts. These customer reviews and product images will build trust and make it more likely that the window shopper will buy from you.
- The Last-minute Shopper: This person needs their flowers NOW and doesn’t care what they have to pay for them. They are most concerned about their purchase arriving on time and will pay for expedited shipping. The last-minute shopper can be an excellent holiday income source; make sure your website checkout process is straightforward and lay out all your shipping options, with precise arrival dates.
Automate Your Emails
Once you’ve delineated your customers and created offers tailored to them, it’s time to send those offers out. That’s where automation comes in: Marketing automation is a huge time saver that can help you acquire and convert customers by creating tailored email messages. Three key email automations for the upcoming holiday season are:
- Welcome Series: This is a series of emails to new customers that welcome them to your brand and provide value. The first email might give them tips on how to care for their just-purchased arrangement. Follow this up with an email asking them what they’d like to see in your holiday gift guide. Then send an email with a survey to determine what type of content they’d like to receive from you and how often they’d prefer to hear from you.
- Abandoned Cart: Send this email to customers one to three hours after they leave your site with items still in their shopping cart, to remind them about what they’ve left behind, and to capture their attention before another florist does. Make sure your email includes a beautiful image of the item they were about to purchase. Follow up the first email a day or two later for those who still haven’t returned to buy.
- Thank You: A great way to add a personal touch to the online shopping experience, a thank you email will let your customers know that you appreciate their purchase. You should always include a kind request to leave a review on your website, Google My Business page, or Facebook page. This type of email can also be a successful way to sell additional holiday products to your customers.
Prepare for Holiday Success
We know we’ve given you a lot of information here, but it comes down to these necessary steps:
- Plan thoroughly with a well-defined goal and metrics for measuring your progress
- Optimize your website and online offerings with well-thought-out merchandising and a streamlined checkout experience.
- Know your customer and their needs and wants, so you can personalize email and SMS offers that lead them to your website.
If you properly prepare for this unusual holiday season, we know you can achieve great success. Heere’s to a highly profitable holiday for the floral industry.