Find a way to embrace change. Keep your plans fluid. Watch your financials. Those are three lessons that longtime floral industry member Jennifer Barnard of Tillie’s Flower Ship in Wichita, Kansas, said she’s taking with her from the pandemic. In a recent issue of Floral Management, she shared what she and her family have learned from this time and how they are adapting.
“The pandemic has already changed consumer behavior,” writes Barnard in the June issue. “Before the pandemic, my parents, who are both in their 70s, rarely bought anything online. This spring, though, they bought almost everything they needed online because of their local stay-at-home orders. Online shopping became very normal for them, and guess what? Now, they like it! They overcame the mental and tech barriers, no longer fear using their credit card online, and they plan to continue this practice after things return to normal. They have learned new lessons they will continue to use.”
Barnard added that some of the shifts in consumer behavior may be long lasting. “I think people will continue to want a convenient and reduced-contact way to buy and receive their purchases,” she wrote. “This is a huge opportunity for florists: Our shop’s ability to quickly implement and communicate our contact-free methods of shopping and delivery had a huge effect on both convincing our customers to continue to buy and in raising our sales back to near normal levels. We also obtained new customers.”
Another big takeaway: Barnard said it’s time for all retail florists to review what and how they are selling goods and services.
“We need to make sure we are offering the products and services that consumers are looking for and develop new products as necessary — and that we are making it easy for customers to support our businesses by having great, mobile-friendly websites,” she said. “My best marketing ideas have come from paying close attention. When I realized how stressed people were — and how much they missed things like a trip to the spa — we created spa-inspired designs. When customers needed a way to celebrate birthdays, we connected with a local bakery to deliver cakes and flowers.”
Barnard also shared some of her tips for connecting with customers in June during the Society of American Florists’ Reignite Your Business webinar series, sponsored by Teleflora.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.