Accurate forecasting is key to online flower company Bloom & Wild’s ability to offer next-day and same-day delivery, its CEO tells eDelivery.
Aron Gelbard is also co-founder of the start-up, which launched in 2013. The seller recently made headlines by replacing Interflora as Ocado’s flower partner.
The company offers next-day delivery nationwide in the UK, France and Germany, with same-day delivery available in London.
How does this work behind the scenes? The company imports its flowers from Kenya, where half of the flowers consumed in the UK are grown, according to Gelbard. Part of the fast delivery time is eliminating as many steps from the process as possible.
“We try to avoid middlemen,” explains Gelbard. “A lot of flowers would go from the growing area in Kenya to auction, to a wholesaler, to a shop in the UK. Each of those steps is adding cost, making flowers less fresh, adding waste handling.”
Bloom & Wild works with a vertically integrated grower and packer, with three days between being cut and reaching the consumer.
The final major step is the last mile – Bloom & Wild’s key innovation is the packaging, which allows a bouquet to be delivered through a letterbox. Garçon Wines, which Bloom & Wild works with, has brought a similar innovation to the wine delivery space.
The most important thing for making all of this work is determining the orders. The company has strong models for working out how many flowers it will need in advance and how these different types will break down across the different varieties it sells.
The model is based on historical information, with multiple inputs including order volumes and predictions around marketing campaigns.
“Order volumes are hugely campaign and marketing-sensitive.”
A substantial portion of the flowers are ordered on subscription, Gelbard says, which makes it easier to predict in advance. But the data that the company has also allows it to influence what customers buy – an algorithm on the site is able to make products more or less prominent based on supply and availability.
Same-day delivery follows a similar model, except a day ahead. The company works with On the dot in London, with a technology integration between the two allowing customers to see which same-day slots are available.
As mentioned above, for now same-day delivery is limited to the company’s home turf of London. The plan is to extend this to Paris in the near future, but there are no plans to offer it more widely.
For one thing, offering the service in London is much easier due to the presence of its studio there. There is also a difference in demand – Gelbard says that the “hectic urban lifestyle” makes people prepared to pay more for faster delivery. With lower demand elsewhere it would be less efficient to launch there.
Gelbard explains that the company is “not trying to be clever” about its delivery options, but is simply reflecting the delivery costs it faces itself. However, the promise does allow Bloom & Wild to prominently display a prompt on the site which encourages customers to order by 10PM to get free next-day delivery.
Most customers choose standard delivery, which is free. For a faster and more guaranteed service customers pay more, simply reflecting the increased cost of the service. Bloom & Wild even offers Sunday delivery for special occasions such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, although those tempted to leave gifts to the last minute may be disappointed to learn that no same-day option is available.
Gelbard says the company’s hope is that the letter box will become the main way people send flowers.