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What should supermarkets expect from their floral hardgoods wholesalers?

Amazon, Wayfair and others have continued to raise the bar in terms of products available, pricing, and the speed in which they can logistically process orders and get it to their customers. So expectations are high and they should be.

The distinct advantage that floral wholesalers provide is giving supermarket floral managers the ability to actually interact with a human being; one that knows the industry and can provide tips and solutions for any job, big or small.

I’m often reminded of a situation that occurred in our business years ago. A floral manager called on a Friday afternoon at 4 or 5 o’clock in a panic because they had to prepare a dozen arrangements for the next day. In the bottom of each vase, their customer wanted three to four red gems. Unfortunately, we did not have enough stock to satisfy the order, nor did we have enough lead-time to source it. After describing what she was attempting to do, our sales associate suggested that she take cranberries from the produce department and use those to fill the vases. Problem solved and a very happy customer.

Needless to say, it would be nearly impossible to pick up the phone and call an internet seller and receive the level of service and advice that floral manager received.

Wholesalers are also a great source of knowledge concerning trends and new item information. Of particular value are wholesalers that invest in sending their associates to industry events such as the upcoming Society of American Florists’ Annual Convention Sept. 12-15 in Palm Springs, CA, and the Wholesale Florist and Florist Suppliers Association’s Floral Distribution Conference Oct. 16-18 in Miami.

These events focus on providing knowledge and education for attendees, many of whom are wholesalers that then excitedly share what they’ve learned with their customers. Floral managers should take advantage of that and partner with wholesalers that operate under the credo that “Strong Customers Make for Strong Business.”

In addition to education, wholesalers can also assist your operations by allowing you to minimize the amount of inventory that you have to carry and they will generally sell you products without onerous minimums. This allows you to offer a wide variety of products without having to worry about tying up inventory dollars or finding extra storage space. “Buying direct” in most cases does not allow you that opportunity. Plus, freight or delivery charges are typically much more advantageous when dealing with a local wholesaler.

On the hardgoods side, your local wholesaler is the perfect fit to assist a supermarket florist with everything they need to run a successful operation. All you have to do is take advantage of the available opportunity.

Nick Fronduto is chief operating officer at Jacobson Floral Supply, Inc. in Boston. He can be contacted at