Many retail florists embrace that they are part of the ‘gift giving’ industry and sell a wide variety of gifts to complement their fresh flower sales. Amongst the flowers and gifts, potted plants have been sold side-by-side as a distinct part of the retail offering. But now, potted plants have started to appear in the local retail florist as a new department and a popular gift-giving idea of their own.
Statistics in the USA and Europe are showing that in some cases, a florist may have sales upwards of 25 per cent in potted plant sales in their store. Anecdotal evidence is leading to a similar trend in Australia. Retail florist sales in potted plants such as orchids and chrysanthemum on Mother’s Day is certainly an indication of how important potted plant sales in Australia have become.
Why consider selling potted plants?
Potted plants help expand the product offering that one may consider buying from a florist. Many florists successfully create extra revenue in their stores from having a great selection of deliverable gifts. Popular gifts are soy candles, soft plush toys, chocolates and alcohol. Potted plants have now also become one of those instore and online deliverable items as well.
A florist makes a living from working with fresh flowers and natural materials. The majority of their income traditionally comes from making and selling fresh flower bouquets, arrangements and event decoration displays.
Plants are an easy natural alternative gift to fresh flowers. The investment is not large, the shelf life is longer than fresh flowers and in many cases, they can be sourced from the flower market. In recent times, orchids, succulents and other potted plants have become a very important part of non-flower product sales that a florist is offering.
Do plants replace fresh flower sales?
I think not. I think they are an additional category and revenue stream for the florist. Each product talks for itself. When given the choice in store or online, you are creating a gift-giving destination in the mind of your customer. It’s like having full-cream gelato and also offering a choice of sorbet in your store. Two different products that are seemingly inseparable.
Repotting and arranging succulents and orchids to create a point of difference from the mass market potted plant offering is almost like making a flower arrangement, and requires floristry skills in many instances.
Why is selling potted plants important?
A consumer loves to receive beautiful fresh flower arrangements or bouquets, but in today’s competitive retail landscape, the consumer is always after more choice. Sometimes a customer wants a gift that will last longer and provide a longer memory for the receiver. Many people live in apartments or smaller spaces and indoor potted plants are well suited to this. A florist can certainly capitalise on such trends as greenery and ferns, succulents, cacti and Phalaenopsis orchids.
On a practical level, potted plants will last longer than fresh flowers so they need less work and support to maintain their look in store. In most cases, they do not even require refrigeration. While selling potted plants is part of the overall gift-giving experience a florist offers, it should not be seen as a challenge to the sales of flowers, but rather, another category in the florist’s portfolio.
But how can a florist compete with the mass market?
Someone can go to a nursery and buy an indoor or outdoor plant, but a nursery will not gift wrap or deliver. The customer may not even be able to buy the item online. So selling potted plants opens many doors for a florist and should fall perfectly into most florists’ business model.
The key advantage a florist has is that they can use their skills to enhance the consumer experience. They can curate and create unique product offerings and change their product offering quickly in line with the supply changes. A florist can definitely add value by selecting the most appropriate container for a potted plant. It creates more uses for the planter pots in ceramic, tin or natural materials that they already stock for their current customer base. The container up-sell along with amazing gift wrapping ideas that are not easily reproduced in mass market products all mean that the florist can create a wonderful and unique gift.
Many florists should be in a position to move on indoor potted trends quickly and try out their popularity with their customers. It may not be something for all, but it is pleasing to see that so many local florists have embraced the trend and are enhancing the consumer’s gift giving experience.
This article was published in the April 2019 issue of Flowers magazine, an award-winning Australian publication focusing on the whole of the flower supply chain from breeders to retailers.