In the January issue of Floral Management, we talked to industry members across segments about the challenges and opportunities in the new year. This month online, we’re sharing extended and additional interviews, including the discussion below with Farbod Shoraka of BloomNation.
Floral Management: What’s the biggest challenge that your business is facing, as we move into 2019? Why is it a big deal? How are you trying to address it?
Farbod Shoraka: The biggest challenge we are facing in 2019 is the biggest challenge the industry is facing, which is florists shutting down. It’s not a new challenge, but it’s the biggest threat to local florists. We need to continue to spread the word that small businesses will be crushed by larger companies, specifically online ones, unless they adapt to using the latest technology, so they can still survive in an environment where foot traffic is almost nonexistent, and they don’t need to rely on large brokers to attain order flow.
FM: What about the biggest opportunity for your business? What are you most excited about—and why? How are you trying to capitalize on it?
FS: We are incredibly excited about our new Florist-to-Florist program. It’s really enabling florists to leverage the community we built to help them service their customers in a deeper way. Normally, you would need to rely on brokers to handle customer orders that were out of their delivery area, but with our new F2F program, they can send orders out to any BloomNation florists to help them take care of their customer.
FM: What about for the overall industry? What’s an industrywide challenge that you think a lot about and/or are working on? Why is it so important? What are some possible solutions to this challenge?
FS: Biggest challenge for the industry is getting florists to realize that they need to make a dedicated effort to build an online brand. Just throwing up a website and using stock photos doesn’t cut it anymore. Consumers are smarter than ever. You need to build a brand. Take your own photos and change up your designs.
FM: What about big opportunities for the industry? Where do you see areas of growth, innovation or positive change? How do you think people can leverage these opportunities?
FS: Local has been in trend for last several years and the idea of artisanal, crafted products is very chic right now. Florist should be taking advantage of the fact that consumers love things that are sourced, produced and delivered locally. Make sure you scream that you are a local business and that your floral designs are hand crafted and locally delivered. I know this seems obvious, but many florists don’t actually do this correctly. Again, it’s all about branding!
FM: Tell me something you’re really excited about right now, and moving into 2019, on a business or industry level:
FS: I am super excited about the new features and products we will be launching at BloomNation for 2019, especially around the concept of data. Knowledge is power, so we will be making big moves around showing florists what is happening in their business and what they can/need to do to thrive.
FM: What is one issue/idea/concept that you wish more people in the industry would work together on or be more aware of? Why is it important to you?
FS: If I could end one thing in 2019, it would be order gathering from marketing/broker companies. We should fundamentally end the concept of allowing online websites that having nothing to do with local florists be able to collect and send orders through wire-services. Their tactics and deceptive practices ruin the consumer experience and make people dislike ordering flowers online. If I could get all the florists to stop accepting these orders, I would.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.