Flo­ral e-com­merce blooms

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By REN XIAOJIN renx­i­ao­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

There was a time when Novem­ber was a dull pe­riod for florists in China — sales were slug­gish, sup­plies bleak, and even weather seemed to make the go­ings on bor­ing.

Not any­more, thanks to the ad­vent of the Nov 11 Sin­gles Day on­line shop­ping fes­ti­val, and the cul­ture of cre­ative con­sumerism it has spawned, mar­ket in­sid­ers said.

Now, Novem­ber tends to be the peak sea­son, the fa­vorite month of florists in China, even though the pre­ced­ing Oc­to­ber has the Dou­ble Ninth Fes­ti­val, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chi­nese lu­nar cal­en­dar, and the suc­ceed­ing De­cem­ber boasts Christ­mas and New Year’s Eve — all oc­ca­sions that tra­di­tion­ally spurred sales of flow­ers and bou­quets.

But Nov 11 en­tails ir­re­sistible dis­counts and bun­dled deals from florists that ea­ger con­sumers grab with both hands, more so be­cause New Re­tail now en­ables them to ex­tend on­line fun to phys­i­cal shop­ping ar­eas.

For in­stance, in the town of Yanji in Shuyang county, Jiangsu prov­ince, over 7,000 on­line flower shops launched at­trac­tive 11-11 sales pro­mo­tions days in ad­vance, which caused a del­uge of or­ders from con­sumers.

Xingfu Hua­hai, one of the flower shops, notched up over 10 mil­lion yuan ($1.44 mil­lion) in sales, as it stocked up over 150 fresh flower va­ri­eties from Ja­pan, Sin­ga­pore and South Korea, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s on­line state­ment.

Yang Huarong, a Tian­jin flower shop owner, who pre­pared well to serve 11-11 or­ders in time, said: “I con­tacted a num­ber of flori­cul­ture farm­ers across the coun­try in ad­vance and re­served a large num­ber of best­selling flower va­ri­eties.”

Wang Guanx­iong, a tele­com in­dus­try ex­pert who re­searches e-com­merce in flow­ers, said 11-11 sales ex­ploded, as con­sumers were spend­ing more on lifeen­rich­ing, hap­pi­ness-pro­duc­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

“The boom­ing on­line flower busi­ness is a sign that the in­dus­try is en­ter­ing the ma­ture phase,” he said. “It poses a chal­lenge not just to the busi­ness it­self but the en­tire sup­ply chain.”

E-com­merce in per­ish­able prod­ucts like flow­ers re­lies heav­ily on lo­gis­tics in­volv­ing timely trans­port, cold stor­age and big data, to cope with the mas­sive spike in or­ders in a short pe­riod. But in­ad­e­quate or sub­op­ti­mal sys­tems are pos­ing prob­lems to some mer­chants.

So, this year, Shuyang in Jiangsu prov­ince, one of the big­gest flower bases in China, forged an al­liance with lo­gis­tics firm ZTO Ex­press. The tie-up en­abled peo­ple to keep an eye on ev­ery part of the sup­ply chain, so that fool-proof 11-11 de­liv­er­ies could re­sult in loyal cus­tomers and re­peat pur­chases through­out the year, said Sun Hon­glei, a fran­chisee of ZTO Ex­press.

Sun said e-com­merce in flow­ers re­quires top-qual­ity and speedy lo­gis­tics, so any com­pro­mise in these ar­eas would af­fect the busi­ness. He paid at­ten­tion to these as­pects. Now, over 100,000 parcels move in and out of his green­house per day. Not bad for a firm that sold just 10 bou­quets a day 12 years ago.

For its part, ZTO’s Shuyang branch has in­vested over 30 mil­lion yuan to build a new ware­house and an of­fice build­ing, sug­gest­ing e-com­merce in flow­ers also has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate em­ploy­ment and spur eco­nomic growth through cre­ation of in­fra­struc­ture.

YANG ZHENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A fe­male con­sumer scans a QR code us­ing her smart­phone, to pay for flow­ers she se­lected in a flower mar­ket in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince.

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