Three factors dramatically impact a florist shop’s success. First, it is a relationship-driven business, and not just customer relationships. There are supplier relationships, reciprocal relationships with other florists, relationships with other businesses and relationships with national services. Second, almost the entire inventory is perishable. Third, although there is steady business throughout the year, Valentine’s Day and Mothers Day are by far the busiest days for most florists.
The stress points for a florist shop are inventory, customer relationship management (CRM), order entry, point of sale (POS) and accounts receivable. Florist shops are one of the specialty retail industries that are adopting Software as a Service (SaaS); several cloud-based general retail software supplies ofter specially configured versions for florists and there is at least one cloud-based florist shop specialty software product.
Florist shop owners need core accounting, but should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Reminders||Florist shops live and die by continuing sales with existing customers, but reminders were problematic because it was difficult to send a targeted, private message to someone who lived in a household with others. Social media and electronic communications provide an answer. Customers can now receive reminders of important dates by email, text, Twitter or Facebook to surprise their partners on birthdays and anniversaries.|
|Fundraising support||A number of fundraising organizations have tied specific flowers to specific causes. Examples include poppies for Veterans on Memorial Day, yellow roses for first responders on Patriot Day and pink roses for Breast Cancer Awareness. The system should send reminders to the organizations in advance, and prepare orders for inventory.|
|Florist service management||Florist services, such as FTD and Interflora, are important sources of business for florist shops. The software needs to maintain inventory to fulfil advertised arrangements, place orders with service partners as necessary and accept orders from the services.|
|Co-op advertising||In addition to the orders relationship with the florist services, there is a co-operative advertising relationship. The system should track the money spent on qualified advertising in the accounts payable and bill the service against available funds.|
|Floral strategies support||If the florist uses or intends to use Floral Strategies methodologies, the florist shop software package should also support those methodologies.|
|Arrangement inventory||Arrangement inventory is more than tracking the stock of flowers. The system should check the inventory of all components for a particular arrangement, including vases and any other special additions. If a particular item is not in stock, the system should suggest a suitable replacement.|
|Spoilage management||Spoilage management has two parts. First, the system should track the items that are about to expire and notify the florist. Second, the system should make it easy to track items that spoiled prematurely. Tracking spoiled inventory can help the florist to better evaluate the quality of each supplier’s stock.|
|Reciprocity tracking||Florists share business with other florists in their trade area if orders are too big to handle or if an order is outside of a given delivery area. Florists also work with other businesses, such as candy stores, wedding planners, funeral homes and caterers, to collaborate on special packages. The system should track how opportunities are shared back and forth between different partners to discover which are the most profitable.|
|Standing orders||Hotels, offices and other businesses often have standing orders for fresh flowers. The florist system should automate this process by checking stock for the proper inventory, placing orders when necessary and scheduling the arrangement and delivery.|
|Enclosure card printing||One of the hallmarks of florists is the enclosure card. It is also a heavily manual process. A florist system should print enclosure cards in a clear but stylized font. Best practice is to have the customer email or text the message, then cut and paste it into the printing system to be certain all names and words are spelled correctly.|
|Route planning||One of the more challenging aspects of florist work is deliveries. The florist system should plan out deliveries taking into account the number, capacity and range of each vehicle. If a vehicle must make multiple runs, the system should optimize the routes to account for returning to the shop for reloading. Advanced systems can dynamically change the route to account for new orders during the day.|
|Trip sheet management||Historically, the route is provided to the driver on a printed trip sheet that lists all the stops and projected delivery times. A desired featured is the use of electronic trip sheets using smart phones, which can track the van in real-time and adjust the route for new orders.|
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