E-Brief editors recently checked in with national companies to benchmark their returns, and we reached out to members of the Society of American Florists’ Wholesalers Council for updates on holiday logistics, including backlogs in Ecuador and an ongoing truck driver shortage.
Here are some key insights from SAF Wholesalers Council members.
Backlog in Ecuador
David Armellini, president and CEO of Armellini Express Lines, called the holiday a success but noted delays in getting product out of Quito, Ecuador, due to a combination of factors, including an early crop, communication between growers and airlines, and ongoing challenges related to air transportation — namely, fewer planes and more competition for space from more lucrative products.
“There were many delayed boxes for days until the end of the rush when the airlines finally caught up to the volume,” he said.
Armellini said that fluctuations in timelines aren’t new — in fact, for Valentine’s Day 2018, he noted, many flowers out of Quito were behind their normal shipping schedule, which created other challenges. What is new? Air capacity.
“In years past, the airlines had extra planes and capacity to help adjust for the early or late product and other issues,” he said, adding that he was a significant increase in containers coming from Colombia this year, offsetting in part the backlog in Ecuador. “Now, they are in high demand for many commodities other than flowers.”
Liza Roeser Atwood, CEO and co-owner of Fifty Flowers in Boise, Idaho, shared similar stories related to Ecuador, noting reports of damaged and delayed aircraft, canceled flights and missed connections.
Like Armellini she noted that planes that in the past might have been available to ease the burden are now being used for more lucrative cargo.
“Basically, there is more demand than plane availability now,” she said.
Truck Driver Shortage
A shortage of truck drivers continues to create challenge far beyond the floral industry.
“Due to our driver count being down, we had to rely more this year than ever with outside contractors to help us move our Mother’s Day volume,” Armellini said. “Although we paid the highest rates ever for these trucks, we were able to secure them in a timely manner due to a great deal of pre-planning.”
Tom Figueroa, AIFD, MCF, of Nordlie Inc. in Warren, Michigan, shared a similar perspective.
“Logistics both with flights coming into country and trucking company lack of drivers was a constant issue,” he said, noting the holiday was overall a good one for his company and its customers. “We could not get enough product early and kept running thin on inventory.”
National Companies Share Results
E-Brief editors also reached out to national companies for information on their holiday results. Among those who shared information:
BloomNation. Farbod Shoraka, co-founder and CEO, said BloomNation experienced strong returns, with member florists reporting sales increases on average of 20 percent.
BloomNet/1-800-Flowers.com. Kathleen Waugh, vice president, enterprise public relations, classified the holiday as “terrific” and noted successful launches of new Mother’s Day collections, including an assortment of succulents that proved so successful “we had trouble keeping them in stock.” Ahead of the holiday, the company supported the introduction of Apple Business Chat, allowing customers to “instantly chat with a gift concierge about a product or service” through their iPhone or iPad and complete transactions through Apple Pay.
Flower Shop Network. “We had a great Mother’s Day,” said Loranne Atwill, vice president and co-owner. “We had increases across the board, especially with the orders generated for florists’ through their individual websites. We are also hearing good reports from florists that the holiday was overall successful.”
Lovingly. “Lovingly Partners clearly trended higher from 2017,” said Michael Delgorio, director of corporate development, who noted the success of a holiday contest, which generated consumer and media interest. “Overall, we did witness really upbeat responses from Lovingly partner shops.”
Teleflora. ““While consumers continue to order later and later in the holiday, order volume was strong and drove increases from 2017,” said Jeff Bennet, president. “ In particular, partner florists with eFlorist websites experienced strong increases in sales over last year. From a fulfillment perspective, our florists expertly handled the last-minute surge in orders which contributed significantly to customer satisfaction rates exceeding our plan and prior year.” Bennet also noted the success of the company’s “Love Makes a Mom,” which received more than 25 million views.
An FTD representative declined to comment since FTD is a public company. The company’s second quarter earnings release will take place later this summer.
Look for additional updates from other companies in future issues.