Supermarket floral departments can sell more fresh-cut flowers through enhanced understanding of the floral value proposition. This proposition is about engaging customers and providing a great shopping experience for them: Do they feel welcomed? Do they think their needs are understood? Do they enjoy the flowers they buy?
In a competitive and challenging category that is constantly evolving, it is not enough to have consistent floral quality, competitive pricing and dependable, on-time delivery. Yes, creative floral merchandising and cross-merchandising is vital, especially during key sales events. We must continuously assess product mix, packaging, pricing strategies and programmable volumes.
But we must also understand the various key performance indicators (e.g., percent of sales from returning customers, customer satisfaction, customer attrition, product shrinkage, duration of a stock-out situation), especially those that measure customer preferences and acceptance.
Additionally, good category management makes use of cluster data demographics and socioeconomic norms. However, the need to focus on the customer goes well beyond these measures. Each and every day, we must concentrate on how best to exceed our customers’ floral expectations, which means we must know them well enough to know what they like and enjoy.
Equally important are three key pillars that contribute to a great shopping experience, thus driving floral as a destination point and increasing same-store sales:
• Maintain a laser-like focus on the needs and desires of our customers.
• Build relationships throughout the entire distribution and supply channel.
• Think strategically to establish floral programs that put customer needs first, rather than trying to sell them certain products.
When customers become our main focus, we are building a relationship with them. Without them, we have nothing. As a team, we must learn to think as the customer thinks and develop strong relationships in order to meet their floral needs. And when we meet their floral needs, it brings increased basket count and weekly patronage.
I recall studying a retailer’s business model and rebranding strategy, seeing its brilliant understanding of this single most important focus: customer relationship building. This has been well executed by its category management team, including floral, and proven enormously successful.
Here are three ways supermarket floral departments can build customer relationships:
• Engage customers with a smile, asking what floral varieties they would like to see.
• Develop ongoing themes to attract and stimulate floral interest.
• Bring cross-merchandising to the floral department.
Challenges are replete throughout the North American mass market. National and regional chains, independent retailers, wholesalers and customers continue to face daunting economic hurdles. These should motivate the supermarket floral industry to row in tandem in a valiant effort to increase floral awareness and demand.
It is a privilege to work in an industry that profitably enhances the well-being of individuals and families. Our collective efforts should be focused on meeting the needs of others by understanding what is important to them.
We always ultimately have an audience of one, personified by the eyes, mind and heart of the individual retail floral customer. Good selling!
John Fillmon is the North American mass market development manager of Continental Flowers Inc. in Miami. He can be reached at 305/594-4214, ext. 1301, or at email@example.com.