Customers, who are they?

Introduction to Customers

So now we know that we're talking about the selling of our flowers, and that the growing of them (while important) isn't the activity that will make us money and profit, we need to think about the most important part of flowers as a business

' The Customers'. 

Claire showing florist customers her flowers

Claire showing florist customers her flowers

So who are your customers?

If this is the first year of selling you might be tempted to say "anyone who will buy them" but that will make it very difficult to focus on where to find them, and what to sell to them at, so the first Question we need to ask is

Retail or Wholesale?

The dictionary definitions are 

Retail

the sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.

Wholesale

the business of selling of goods in large quantities and at low prices, typically to be sold on by retailers at a profit.

The 3 key differences to take into account here, are

1) The Quantity of goods sold - i.e small quantities for retail, and large for wholesale, 

2) The difference in price. Basically goods are sold at a lower price wholesale, so that a retailer can add value, take into account their costs, and still sell at a profit.

3) Whether the buyer is the end user. Are they going to be the one displaying the flowers for themselves, or are they selling them on to someone, or adding value to them (making them into a display) to sell on to someone

I’ve written more about this in the Introduction to Pricing course, so please do go back to this if you didn’t complete the exercises in that section.

Retail customer expectations :

Your retail customers are the end user.

They are often the first type of customers that new flower growers have. - 

They are likely to buy flowers less regularly so will have less knowledge about them, particularly about their price and worth, they will expect you to know your pricing, and be able to tell them what they can afford.

They are going to ask more questions / need more information to make a purchase - particularly when you get past the "friends " stage.

They are often going to need "added value" items - wrapping of flower bunches, labels and cards for presentation, time spent making into a bouquet, vases and props for parties and weddings. These all need to be taken into account as well as the price of the flowers.

Wholesale customer expectations :

Wholesale customers are going to be taking your products, adding value to them, and selling them on to their customers. They are not the end users.

They are likely to have a good knowledge of the products as they will be using them regularly.

They are likely to have a good knowledge of the market price of flowers, but will want a good quality product as their reputation is at risk if they sell inferior products.

They will need goods for their clients all the time, and expect to have products available that they need regularly. 

They will expect to be able to buy all that they need for that day's customers in just a few places, so will want larger quantities at a time.

Retail V Wholesale

Whether you sell Wholesale or Retail or a mixture of both will depend on a whole variety of factors.

Here are some

Size of growing area

Undercover growing area?

Growing all year round? - or for how many months?

Do you have previous horticultural / growing experience

Do you have previous floristry / flower arranging experience

Your Location

Transport links

Storage

Your personal circumstances including which days of the week you can or want to work, and how many hours you can work each week.

I've attached a check sheet below with some of the markets you may want to choose. Have a look at what attributes you think might be important for each of them.



Local V National

Your growing conditions also dictate whether you'll be able to find a market locally, or if you need to go further afield or even nationally.

The last survey of UK customer buying habits (Which was a while ago, but it’s the only figures out there to work from), found that the British Public spent an average of £28 per adult per year on cut flowers and £8 on pot plants. Source The Flowers and Plants Assoc

Are your local customers above or below average?

If you live in a rural area, that isn't particularly wealthy, or an inner city area, the amount may be smaller.

If you live in the home counties or in the suburbs of our cities the amount is likely to be above average.

With dedicated marketing to a particular market, you can expect a 1-5% market share (in time, that won't happen overnight)

Do the figures, can you get enough money from your local retail market?

Here’s my figures as an example

  • My local village has 2828 inhabitants

  • If I can reach 1% of them, and get them to spend the average £28, then I can get £792 worth of sales.

  • If I can reach 5% of them that's £3959.2.

(So I can’t live on retail to my local village, with an average spend, but….)

If I include my 2 next nearest villages with 4290 and 268 inhabitants at 5%, that's £10340.4

So far, i've only moved 3 miles from my front door, and sold them half a bouquet.....

that was 370 items sold @£28 (there's a bit of rounding in there)

If you've got a large garden, that's only 

10 small bouquets for 37 weeks of the year or

20 small bouquets for 18 weeks of the year - 

Work out whether you can just sell to your local market or if you have to be looking further afield on the resource below

Can your local retail market support your business?