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