There is a measure of schadenfreude in all of us, and we cannot deny that we’ve been following the debacle of A Better Florist’s Valentine’s Day nightmare across the Causeway.
In a one sentence summary: A Singaporean flower delivery startup took 2000 orders for Valentine’s Day and failed to deliver on over 100 of them, destroying the event for numerous lovebirds.
And it’s not over yet. There’s been reports of other florists, both in Singapore and in Malaysia disappointing customers, whether it’s late delivery, a no-show or poor flower quality.
The handling of the issue aside (including heartfelt apologies, promises of personal calls and expedited refund processes), we started to wonder, how do flower services handle the added pressure getting things right on one of their biggest days of the year?
Here’s what they had to say.
Editor’s Note: Happy Bunch and BloomThis are commenting solely on their own practices and how they personally managed their operations. Business crises can happen to anyone and we don’t intend to put anyone down, but rather learn from what others do.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
I asked Lee Yen if florists might have been too ambitious about taking too many orders. She laughed and corrected me. “You can be ambitious—that’s a good thing—but don’t be greedy.”
“We know our capacity, so we close off orders when we hit the target every day.” That’s how Lee Yen described Happy Bunch’s approach to not just Valentine’s Day, but even for their daily orders. That’s why some popular bunches do show as sold-out on their website, even way before the order deadline.
“The easy part is getting the flowers, because those are pre-ordered. The manpower—we know how much we can do in a day, so it’s knowing what your capacity is. If you’re going to go for, say 4 times the volume, then you need to man up for that,” she added.
2. Start planning EARLY.
Valentine’s Day is one of the major events of the year for florists. Penny and Lee Yen both told us that their bulk of orders on Valentine’s Day go up to around 4 to 5 times more.
According to Penny, BloomThis starts planning at least 2 months in advance, with a focus on making sure that supplies and delivery partners are available. Lee Yen echoed those thoughts, saying that they even get the logistics partners prepped and ready at least a month in advance.
3. Learn from the past disasters.
Penny shared about how they used to have a bottleneck problem when it came to deliveries on major days, slowing down the entire process because of the bulk of orders. She explained how they solved it, “We managed to work with trusted delivery partners to help us.”
Happy Bunch plays it very safe too. “We don’t depend on one partner anymore. Once upon a time, we used to depend only on one logistics partner. Now we have multiples ones.”
Speaking of bad experiences, Lee Yen added, “We know that if it can happen on a normal day, it can happen on Valentine’s Day. Why should Valentine’s Day be any different?”
4. Understand your customers.
At the end of the day, it all about customer satisfaction, and the startups understand this.
“We realised that sending flowers is a really emotional event. Even on a regular day, we know we can make or break someone’s day. It’s different from other e-commerce business where customers are usually buying for themselves. Knowing that critical insight, come Valentine’s Day it’s a 100 times more heightened. It’s not just operationally whether we can fulfil it or having the logistics partner deliver on time,” said Lee Yen.
It’s also about addressing complaints promptly and professionally as soon as they come up. After all, Valentine’s Day is a major event that can seal the deal on a relationship.
Penny also took a very practical approach. “Offer better value to customers,” she said.
I’m sure quite a few of you can get behind that sentiment too.
Feature Image Credit: BloomThis