Even though Valentine’s Day fell on Sunday this year, the vast majority of the flower shop clients we support experienced at least some upward growth in year over year net revenue. Most other flower shops around the country were probably not so lucky. Our bet is that flower shops who depend on the wire services for volume likely felt a sharp decline in sales, deliveries and year over year revenues.
Florists in the U.S. went into this years Valentine’s holiday feeling a bit apprehensive. Some we spoke with were openly discouraged by the floral industry projections for the coming holiday. Historically, the floral industry almost always projects lower than normal holiday sales, anytime Valentine’s falls on a Saturday or Sunday. The Society of American Florists (SAF) put out an article in January of this year, which highlighted industry concerns on this point. The article lays out a pretty compelling case that a very negative mindset existed prior to the 2016 Valentine’s Day holiday (See Article)
Flyline Search Marketing® flower shop clients all told us that they were planning to approach the holiday with caution. All felt the weekend issue would create problems. Most honestly felt going into the holiday that industry projections would likely prove accurate. All of our shop owners have years of experience in the industry. They all have years of historical industry trend data of their own. Many commented to us that their data supported the probable decline theory.
Now for some great news. For the flower shop clients we support, the decline did not happen. Why you ask? Our shop owners are some of the most progressive, high level thinkers in the floral industry. They are intelligent marketers and always open to new ideas. All are motivated to find ways to improve and grow their flower shops. Even though they approached Valentine’s with a cautious eye, none asked us to back off of our aggressive, comprehensive marketing approach. Instead, all opted into the notion that this weekend thing was simply another obstacle in the road that needed to be overcome. For the record, we have a great track record of overcoming obstacles and bucking industry trends.
Virtually every flower shop in our group had solid holiday sales results during February. Almost all experienced at least some level of year over year growth in net revenue. While I cannot share the actual numbers with you, lend it to say that all of our shop owners came away feeling like they had significantly beaten industry projections.
When you look at where our shop owners shined, almost all saw increases in credit card sales, call-in sales and online sales results. A few saw nice gains in their wire-out sales volume. Even though Valentine’s Day is the second busiest sales holiday of the year, almost every shop in the group saw a slight decline in in-store shopping.
The only shops in the group that continue to experience positive growth in walk-in sales are our florists in Long Beach and Denver. The Long Beach shop takes a very unique approach to Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. Beginning 48 hours before the actual holiday, they remain open 24 hours a day over the last two days. You would not believe how many people in Long Beach actually shop in the middle of the night. Pretty crazy and not something that would likely work everywhere, but, a solid idea in that unique market. In Denver, they opted for a multi-million dollar store renovation a year or so ago, that has proven to be a great idea. The store is absolutely fabulous. Truly one of the nicest flower and gift shops you will ever see. In-store sales have nearly doubled since the renovation occurred.
If you study enough Analytics data for flower shops, it is clear that most shops across the U.S. are experiencing a decline in-store sales. That seems to be a universal problem throughout the floral industry. A further review of the data will point to the reason for the problem. The data clearly points to a shift in shopping patterns of folks purchasing flowers. More and more people are opting to make their purchases online, in lieu of coming into the shop. The driver behind the shift appears to be the rapid growth in smartphone and tablet usage.
In speaking with our support team at Google, it is clear they are seeing the same trend. They talk often about the continuous growth in overall Internet search traffic. They point to the enormous growth in smartphone usage as the major driver of the ever increasing search traffic.
Did any of you use mobile friendly ads in your Valentine’s PPC campaigns this year? If so, how did those ads perform for you? Did you see increases in click through rates on your mobile ads, as say compared to your desktop and laptop focused text ads? Did any of you try “Call Only” campaigns? If so, we would love to hear how those campaigns performed as well. In our case, we utilize both of those elements, along with a ton of other tools like RLSA, mobile bid adjustments, call extensions and some very sophisticated call tracking scripts and phone tracking platforms.
It is my humble opinion that flower shop owners across the country really need to find a marketing firm who understands the floral industry and partner up with them. The floral industry landscape has become extremely complex. You face challenges that you may not even fully understand. The national order gatherers are becoming more and more aggressive in advertising in your local communities. Most of you are now starting to realize that their presence in local search results is affecting your ability to drive local sales volume. You just cannot stay in business if your only plan is to continue taking orders from them off the wire services. Those orders are becoming less and less valuable. Most of you are starting to figure out that you cannot pay your bills based on the ever decreasing revenue share those orders are providing to you.
We have partnered with a number of shops located throughout the United States. Those flower shops are flourishing, even in these difficult times. They are growing, while at the same time the floral industry continues to see a rapid increase in the number of local flower shops who are closing their doors. They are closing because they can no longer figure out ways to generate a profit. If you are a local flower shop owner, we are here to tell you that there is a way to grow again. We can help you grow, assuming you are willing to strategically partner with us in building your brand and comprehensively marketing your business. We don’t take on all flower shops, but, we do strategically partner with one shop owner in each major market. When we take on a client, our mission is to help that flower shop and the family who owns it to grow and thrive! It might be that Flyline Search Marketing® could be a good fit with you!
Another Valentine’s Day is in the books. I know most of you are happy to get back to normal work schedules and regular delivery volumes for a few months. I know our team didn’t get much sleep during February, so we are definitely ready. With Valentine’s Day behind us, it’s time to start planning for Mother’s Day!