We all know how challenging the retail landscape is right now, from inflation to labor shortages to supply chain issues. As a floral industry professional, what can you do to keep up with these challenges and continue to stay profitable? It comes down to knowing what customers are willing to spend their money on and providing it to them.
A Year of Continued Challenges
Financial services company Moody’s Analytics laid out the main challenges for retailers in 2023 as follows:
• Inflation. While lower than its peak in 2022, inflation still poses a problem for retailers. Higher prices mean lower consumer confidence and spending, and inflation is expected to continue to decline throughout the year.
• Worker shortages. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the labor market is predicted to be tough for years to come. Plus, layoffs are low, as businesses hold onto their workers as a reaction to the pandemic’s hiring difficulties.
• Rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates seven times in 2022 and once so far in 2023, with more raises on the horizon. This rising rate of interest causes consumers to cut back on spending.
• Supply chain issues. Supply chain problems have decreased over the last year, yet they remain an issue. Random shortages of materials and deliveries can lead to a backlog of orders and less availability of products.
• A shift to service spending. During the pandemic, consumers spent more on goods. Now that they can leave their homes, they’re spending more on services, such as travel, hotels, and restaurants.
So, with all these challenges we face in 2023, it’s more important than ever to keep a close watch on the bottom line. That includes closely tracking cash flow and hiring the best possible people. It also comes down to how you care for each customer.
How to Provide Greater Value to Your Customers
Due to inflation, customers are paying more these days. As a result, they’re demanding more value for their hard-earned dollars. Providing that value to your customers is a vital way to increase your sales and profits in a challenging economy.
As a floral retailer, you have an advantage: The research firm IPSOS found that customers were nearly two times more empathetic to small businesses raising prices than large companies — but only if they received excellent customer service.
Here are a few ways to provide that service and add value to every customer purchase:
1. Help customers understand what their money can buy. Speak with each customer to find out what they truly want from their arrangement. Is it premium flowers? A larger size arrangement? Something else? By learning what your customer is willing to spend their money on, you can provide the value they want.
2. Add value with events. Customers love the one-on-one attention they get when they come to a DIY workshop or other in-store event. These are great for making customers feel like you’re taking extra care of them, so plan events into your schedule in an even greater volume than in the past.
3. Create educational materials. From DIY videos to informational blogs on your website, educational materials add a lot of value for customers. Instead of just sending them an arrangement, add a pamphlet showing them exactly how to care for their flowers, and add a QR code that links to your YouTube channel (which you should have if you don’t already!).
4. Tell customers about your extra services. Many customers won’t know that you offer services other than creating floral arrangements, so make sure they do. Maybe you offer gift wrapping or can help them create a custom design. Or perhaps you have a return policy or free delivery. Whatever extra services you offer, broadly promote them.
5. Make your arrangements reusable. Many florists add value to their products by creating arrangements in high-end, reusable containers, such as pitchers or baking dishes that customers can use long after the arrangement is gone. Another way to add value is to have reusable vases that customers can bring back in and get a discount on their flowers.
6. Offer loyalty programs and VIP services. Customer loyalty and retention are more crucial than ever, so ensure you have a strong loyalty program in place. Offer a discount after a certain number of purchases or send an extra gift with their arrangement. You can also create special VIP events for your best customers.
These are just a few ideas of how to add value to every customer interaction. While things are undoubtedly challenging, we know that you have what it takes to create a fantastic experience for every customer — and keep them coming back for more!