New DTC toolkit   //   February 13, 2024

How flower delivery services navigate the crush of Valentine’s Day orders

Juan Palacio and his team at nine-year old flower delivery company BloomsyBox start charting out their Valentine’s Day strategy six to nine months in advance. Palacio, who is the founder and CEO at BloomsyBox, said there’s extra marketing campaigns to run, higher customer acquisition costs to account for, and new page designs that have to be uploaded.

But crucially, there are tens of thousands of more red roses to plant at their farms in Florida, California, Colombia and Ecuador.

About 60% to 70% of all orders that come in for Valentine’s Day are roses, even with a concerted push by Palacio’s web design team to place other bouquet mixes on the holiday landing page.

“We have tried so many times to introduce new products, and we’ve tried to be very vocal that we are walking away from roses. And the customers keep going back to roses,” Palacio said.

Valentine’s Day is something like the Super Bowl for companies like BloomsyBox, neck and neck with Mother’s Day for peak raw numbers of floral delivery. And Valentine’s Day shoppers are creatures of habit.

Flowers are the third-most popular Valentine’s Day gift, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation, while 40% of shoppers say they’ll make their purchases for Valentine’s Day gifts online. DoorDash’s data from 2023 showed that florists received 80 times more orders on February 14 compared to the week before. The busiest time for orders was 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on the day of. Roses were the top-ordered flowers.

Successfully fulfilling all of these last-minute orders requires months of planning. Flower delivery services have to ensure that they have the inventory on hand to meet demand for perennial favorites like red roses, while also pushing other arrangements.

This year, navigating the holiday means carefully timing the harvested flowers against the likelihood of peak demand. Wendy Oliff, senior vice president of e-commerce and subscriptions at Bouqs, said so far, the company is seeing higher demand year-over-year. But she expected to see “a huge late minute search” on Monday after following the Super Bowl, as the big game historically tends to delay attention to Valentine’s Day when it falls in the same week. “We expect a lot of the orders to come very last minute,” she said.

In Palacio’s case, Valentine’s Day typically generates the single highest day of revenue for BloomsyBox because of day-of orders and the demand for red roses, a higher-end product at around $90 a bouquet. But meeting the crush of demand requires careful planning.

Flowers, Palacio said, “are a product of mother nature” and will only stay fresh for so long. That means staggering planting and harvesting times to meet rolling demand. This year, Palacio has a new distribution facility and opted to receive fewer flowers on a daily basis in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, instead of receiving them twice a week. This helps arrangements stay fresh when they’re ordered early. But with business being the busiest right before the holiday, it means having extra flowers come in to meet those orders and get them shipped quickly.

“We plant ahead of time,” he said. “We order them in late summer. And we work with our farms and make sure we know what we’re going to be pushing for Valentine’s Day.”

At Bouqs, planning also begins well ahead of Valentine’s Day. Oliff said that Bouqs’ farms are contacted months in advance to make sure they are growing the right varieties that are likely to be ordered. Bouqs has a farm-fresh policy, meaning arrangements are sourced directly from the farm. By early February, the farms are “really in the thick of it” and beginning to put arrangements of buds together. That way by the time they arrive to customers, the flowers still have time bloom.

From a marketing perspective, Oliff said Bouqs tries to keep things simple, with some humor and topical pop culture mixed in. One recent Instagram post right after the Kansas City Chief’s Super Bowl win played off a meme Taylor Swift kissing star tight end Travis Kelce.

The company also upped its video-based influencer content, with the creators speaking directly to the camera about the floral arrangements. “The really simple ads perform the best,” Oliff said. “The ones where we’re featuring the flowers as a hero, where you can see the qualify and freshness of the product.”

At BloomsyBox, Palacio puts about half of January’s advertising budget into campaigns for the last week of the month. Then about 80% of February’s budget is spent in the first 12 days of February. “It’s always challenging, because you’re not going to necessarily see an immediate ROI on your investment in the month of January when you spend that kind of money, but we have been through multiple Valentine’s Days now and we know those investments are going to pay off,”Palacio said.

This year, customer acquisition costs are “through the roof,” Palacio said. He’s seen Google ad bids as high as $12 for a phrase like “Valentine’s Day flowers,” and isn’t putting as much into search ads. But sales still are coming in strong, which Palacio attributes to more content on its website about floral care and arranging. BloomsyBox has seen 170% more organic-driven transactions this February than last year, when the content push was newer. “It’s paying off very well.”

There’s always the temptation to experiment with new tactics. Palacio said that earlier this year, he urged his marketing team to put other flowers besides red roses in BloomsyBox’s ads in attempt to encourage more people to buy other arrangements. BloomsyBox’s Valentine’s Day landing page includes discounts on other products, like a bundle of sunflowers or a mix of several large pink roses with chrysanthemums

But he eventually relented to his marketing team, and a recent Instagram post featured the classic red rose. And though they still aren’t featured in the Valentine’s Day landing page, Palacio said red roses are still the top order he’s seeing in 2024.

“It’s crazy,” he said of the Valentine’s Day roses crush. “We can’t be naive and ignore what the customers are looking for.”