After COVID Lockdowns, Online Flower Shops Are Doable and Still Profitable
COVID-19 lockdowns caused economic disruptions and slowdowns all over the world, and it left many without jobs or regular incomes. However, the lockdowns spurred an entrepreneurial trend toward online small businesses despite these issues. In 2019, increased numbers of home-based and exclusively online small businesses rose nearly overnight and continued to pop up daily. Individuals and companies realized they didn't need a brick-and-mortar shop to run a successful small business. Rather than pay expensive rent, they've opted to re-invest their capital into creating, developing, and extending their online presence. Online flower shops are an excellent example of this trend.
In 2018, there were an estimated 55,000 florists in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, over the next decade, IBIS World predicts the employment outlook for florists is in a dark place. It says the floral industry will see a downward slope of -14 percent in job growth, which means losing 7600 jobs. Experts say this is primarily due to a shift to online flower shops and direct-to-consumer merchants, like supermarkets. IBIS World states that from 2014-2019 the number of online flower merchants grew by 11.8 percent, and today this industry branch creates 5,000 jobs.
Today, is it still possible to start and manage a thriving online flower shop? Yes, it is. Let's examine how to make that happen.
Start an Online Flower Shop
The most important thing to understand is that a home-based business is legitimate, whether running in a garage, basement, or living room. Home-based flower shops are also manageable and moderately profitable even when competing with more established and traditional flower shops. Furthermore, today with the internet, niche flower businesses can successfully market, sell and ship internationally, which is where untapped monetary sources exist.
Online flower shops can be started for as little as $5000-$15,000. A well-stocked traditional shop can run from $40,000 to $50,000. Both shops' start-up costs depend on the variety of consumer products. An online flower merchant can expect to make about $300,000 to $360,000 in sales. After all expenses, that could net the owner an estimated $200,000 personal income. Keep an eye on the cost of business goods, markups, and gross margin of return on inventory. A 300 percent markup rate on flower arrangements is a good starting point. This markup rate is a flat rate with no add-ons.
Fresh flowers are often considered a discretionary expense—not a necessity. Although, Americans and Europeans do love their flowers! According to Medium, Americans spend $1.83 billion on cut flowers yearly, followed by Germany at $1.28 billion, the United Kingdom at $921 million, and Russia at $554 million.
Business and Marketing Plans
After establishing start-up funds, the real work of creating an online flower shop begins with a thorough business plan followed by a creative marketing plan. Each of these will take time to research and write. Identifying key demographics, competition (off and online), suppliers, and what products the business will offer or not offer is vital. Be organized and keep promises. As the company is built, it never hurts to ask for help from mentors. Remember, don't seek advice from people in the same business niche. It makes things awkward for all parties involved. No one wants to be accused of stealing ideas.
A digital marketing plan is crucial in today's world. It can make or break a small business. Next to labor costs and inventory, marketing and advertising will be the next considerable expense. Marketing for an online business is more than placing a pretty photo on Instagram and saying, "Buy me." It is also more than saying, "I have a website. Make a purchase." Please consider carefully—how do you get customers to remember you? What impression do you put out there? Below is a list of answers to both questions.
- Be brand conscious and aware. The name of a flower shop could include a person's name, something poetic, a flower, plant, or tree. Think green and with the five senses.
- Set business and marketing goals that can track.
- Purchase high-quality photos of arrangements. Hire a freelancer or a professional to take these photos. The more luxurious and expensive the flower arrangements look, the better. Customers want quality. Offer delivery to domestic and international locations.
Get a Google my business profile. Keep set hours, and have a human answer the phone. A personal touch creates connections with customers.
- Create or expand a website. Platforms like WordPress.com are great places for do-it-yourselfers (DIYs)to start. Freelancers and other professionals also use these tools. WordPress allows DIYs to create blogs and online stores for selling goods. It works well by itself for a cost or with other hosting operations like GoDaddy or HostGator.
- Subscribe to all social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram. Each social media platform targets a different group of people. Learn which ones would target key demographics and buy advertising space as needed. These platforms will help drive traffic to your website. The success of a business's efforts will be measured in the number of impressions and clicks that ought to convert to increased sales.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) is another critical component of digital marketing. Learning how Google, Bing, and Yahoo rank keyword searches for relevancy on various topics can help refine the company's narrative. Additionally, paying an SEO freelancer or expert to analyze the website's SEO website optimization can help build a brand and grow leads and sales.
- Ask for reviews from customers. Offer discounts when it makes sense. Mother's Day and Valentine's Day are any floral company's most significant sale seasons.
- Consider creating YouTube workshops or in-person classes. Announcing a booth with free samples or discount coupons at tradeshows, wedding expos, or home shows could provide additional traffic and sales.
Once a business is up and going, hiring staff is the next step. Today, the average florist designer makes about $22.94 an hour in the U.S. Teach employees to think as you do and to be courteous to clients at all times. Communicate your vision and values to encourage a consistent product offering. Hire individuals who are punctual, presentable, well-educated, and knowledgeable of their craft. Additionally, it is wise to find employees who listen well and will respond to personal and business needs on the fly.
In a post- COVID-19 lockdown world, online flower shops are legitimate, doable, and manageable. By not having a brick-and-mortar storefront, online flower shops have lower start-up costs and more capital re-invest in the business down the road. Finding the right niche can take time, but for flower lovers starting their own business can be dreams come true. A company is only limited by the imagination of its owner.