How to Manage Inventory and Maximize Sales as a Florist

Perishable goods typically take precedence over other aspects of a floral shop, but it’s important to handle all inventory separately to set oneself up for success. Cut flowers need their own system as well as supplies, gifts, and administrative equipment like printer ink. Usually, there are multiple systems operating at once and that’s a good thing. Optimizing your flower shop really boils down to understanding seasonality, trends, previous sales, and supply chain. Here is what we hope to cover in this blog post:

  • What are the categories of supplies? Whether you use an excel spreadsheet or another management software, understanding the recurrent purchase periods will help you in the long run.
  • How to look into sales data from previous years. Ordering last-minute supplies can be detrimental to the flow of a business, especially during peak seasons. There is no guarantee that certain items will be in stock or that they will be delivered on time.
  • Where to stay up-to-date on the supply chain. Wholesalers are the link between growers, suppliers, freight, distributors, and florists. At any time of day, you can expect your wholesaler to be on the phone with or messaging these points of contact in the industry. 
  • Social media. Most industries have teams dedicated to their social media engagement and metrics. When it comes to owning a flower shop or event company, it’s important to recognize your zone of genius (i.e. flower design) and outsource other tasks.

Depending on your space and what you hope to achieve, managing these aspects can be your biggest asset when it comes to shop efficiency. 

Managing products

Cut Flowers, Foliage, and Plants

Florists generally sell their flowers without much “shrink” as they call it in the industry. If it’s good enough to walk out the door with, it’s good enough to pay for, and there’s no need to give flowers away or toss them aside. Many florists even find a purpose for leftover, smaller stems. Tracking customer behavior and keeping the right amount of flowers on hand will greatly reduce any frustration or overflow. Ultimately, it depends on the size of your coolers and the movement of products in your store.

Houseplants are a hot trend right now that likely aren’t slowing down soon. Having the correct sunlight for certain varieties of plants will be necessary to keep them alive. General rule of thumb, south- and east- facing windows are best. For tropicals, make sure to mist them often and water them once a week. Succulents need plenty of light, and the hanging ones are perfect for window displays. Airplants are nice to have on hand as long as you remember to soak them once a week. Overall, plants make a great addition to the shop vibe and allow shoppers to peruse while you work on arrangements.

Vases, Planters, and Containers

Vases, specifically glass, will never be out of style. However, having too much stock of planters and more trendy containers can become obsolete. Some shops will simply create discounts post-season to promote a proper flow of products. Knowing which products to buy in bulk and which to sample-size is an important rule of thumb. For example, if you already know you will be buying a certain type of planter because it sold out last year, double your order this year. For the trendier pieces, pair down but still offer some.

Think about your space. When merchandising, try not to put everything out on the table (or shelf). Offer your products in a way that allows for breathing room and for customers to appreciate each item. Then we can get into back inventory: the room that customers never see, yet it’s always there…

Personally, back stock rooms are my favorite. They’re typically unorganized, myriads of mixed products that once held a special place in your heart (maybe still do). It’s where the magic lies dormant until you wake it up from its slumber. One surefire way of selling the backstock items is to host a “sale day” with old and new products to entice customers to move items. If you aren’t interested in marking down prices, try displaying older items in a new way — collections by color, shape, size, pattern can work well.

Gifts, Candies, and Cards

There are many times throughout the year to offer promotional gift baskets. Gifts for moms in the spring, gifts for teachers in June, and gifts for parents around the holidays (November-December). By creating little “collections” during these times, including gifts, cards, and candies, you help customers out by taking the guesswork out of giving.

After gathering items for your Mother’s Day basket, for example, take a simply styled photo (arrangement can be included) and start marketing it in April. You can even have a presale to make sure that all gift baskets will be spoken for during the rush. Some gift items for mom can include: candles, bath bombs, tea or coffee, chocolate candies, room diffuser sprays, a throw blanket, nail polish, and more! You know your customers better than anyone, so go with what they like. 

Administrative Supplies

Truth be told, software is an expensive investment for any business. Though most POS systems and invoicing methods are now digitally-based, having stationary items on hand can help when technology hiccups. Things like invoice pads, receipt paper, pens, markers, paper, and post-it notes are generally kept on hand. Luckily, most items can be purchased right away through Amazon, Target, Staples, or a similar supply store. Always remember to incorporate the total into your monthly and yearly budget. 

“In business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count like customer satisfaction and performance… you thrive on that.” — Bill Gates

Sundries like Ribbons, Wraps, Tissue Paper, Cellophane, Baskets, Oasis, Wires, and other Accessories

Most of the time, buying ahead of time grants shop owners a discount. Floral industry suppliers know the long game, meaning, they plan years in advance before a new product gets distributed to florists. On the other end of the spectrum, the consumer typically orders flowers on the day they need them (weddings excluded). So how does a flower shop owner manage all of these hardgoods? A lot of it comes from experience.

Map out your recipes and then order vases and foam for each in preparation of the upcoming season. It may seem time consuming, but it will save you in the long run and will be easier the more you practice. The more experienced florists have their seasonal buying down to a science. And with tools like Curate, HoneyBook, and ShopKeep, anyone can manage their sales year after year. 

Equipment

Knives. Bunch Cutters. Blade Flower Stem Cutter. Pruning Shears. Floral Cage. Floral Pillow. Flower Frog. Glue Guns. When you are just starting out, this may seem like a lot of equipment. A lot of these items can be purchased at your local wholesaler, especially in bulk, without even stepping foot inside (and are typically cheaper than Amazon). 

Planning social content

Online Strategy

Remembering to take pictures of your creations can feel overwhelming when all of your energy is spent for the day. Not only are you at the whim of last-minute buyers, but you are also expected to be up on the latest trends, flower availability, AND you have to market yourself to your clients! It’s basically like having multiple full-time jobs.

With all of the social media outlets out there, it’s much easier to pick a few and then grow from there. To double-down on your content creations, make sure that you cross-promote each post you publish. Meaning, when you create a post to Instagram, make sure to use those images across Pinterest and other social media platforms. Does it sound like too much? Keep reading.

One thing you can do is to outsource your social media efforts to a freelancer or someone on your staff. Another thing is to batch all of your content at once, say, take a ton of photos (or even have a photoshoot—though we know how expensive this can be!) and then dispense them throughout the month. Want to hire a photographer to take pictures of you and the staff for a couple hours? The more images you have, the better.

Overall, dialing in a flower shop is completely manageable, and you are likely already doing a great job. Whatever you are struggling with, we are here to help! Our goal is to make ordering supplies as simple and easy as possible.

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