Supply Chain Shakeup   //   June 11, 2024

How The Bouqs Co. is expanding reach & same-day delivery with Whole Foods stores

Floral delivery company The Bouqs Co. is testing a new concept for selling its arrangements out of Whole Foods in three California locations. Beyond reaching more customers, the partnership helps Bouqs address a key challenge for its business: same-day delivery. 

Just ahead of Mother’s Day, Bouqs opened up its first shop-in-shop in a Whole Foods in Tustin, a city in Orange County. Since then, one opened in La Jolla, a beach community north of San Diego, and another in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Each branded display area will sell bouquets and arrangements in vases, plus the opportunity to place custom orders.

When The Bouqs Co. was founded over a decade ago, having a slick direct-to-consumer website as a primary sales channel was enough of a differentiator in the floral industry. Over the years, other online DTC floral delivery companies have cropped up like BloomsyBox and Urbanstems. Bouqs has kept a competitive edge with a floral subscription service, which can be responsible for up to half of its revenue when not in peak floral holidays like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

But as customers’ expectations for same-day delivery increase, floral companies are trying to figure out how to get their perishable products as close to customers as possible. Partnering with Whole Foods allows Bouqs to essentially have mini-distribution centers in key markets, with the benefit of third-party delivery services already coming through.

“With Whole Foods specifically, it felt like there was a lot of brand alignment,” CEO Kim Tobman said to Modern Retail.

Bouqs wouldn’t share its overall financial information with Modern Retail or confirm whether it is profitable at this time. But the company, founded by John Tabis in 2012, last raised a Series C of $30 million in 2020.

Tobman said that the partnership is part of a deliberate attempt to expand same-day delivery in key markets. Online shoppers within a 30-mile radius of the new stores will be able to see which items they want that can be delivered that day. Bouqs also has a back-of-house presence at a New York City Whole Foods to offer same-day delivery services. “It helps me unlock conversion for existing customers who are coming to the site who might have turned away because we couldn’t service them today,” she said.

The partnership is the latest example of how some brands are getting creative to meet customer expectations for fast delivery. The advent of Amazon Prime cemented the expectation of two-day shipping; now, same-day is becoming increasingly common as well. UPS-owned delivery company Roadie found this year that the same-day delivery market is growing more than twice as fast as the e-commerce market alone, with about 68% of shoppers saying they are looking for shorter delivery times at checkout.

In response, some brands are looking to bridge the last mile by teaming up with a retailer or third party. Starbucks, for example, is now available as an add-on for Target pick-up orders. Meanwhile, delivery platforms like Instacart and DoorDash are ever-expanding with new retailers that people can shop through their app.

So far, the new Whole Foods locations are beating expectations, Tobman said, driven in part by a timely launch. The Orange County shop opened up just before Mother’s Day. “It was a heroic effort to get that done,” Tobman said of her staff. The shop is also seeing inquiries about providing florals for events and installations. Similarly, Tobman said its stand-alone Boqus store in Los Angeles is seeing year-over-year growth.

Overall the Whole Foods move is part of a larger strategy to grow Bouqs. While the latest version of its monthly subscription service launched in early 2020 has helped drive repeat business and lifetime value, Tobman said the company is exploring retail due to the impulse buy and gift-centric nature of the sector. “For retail same-day, Whole Foods and otherwise is a big part of our future,” Tobman said.

Mark Wieczorek, chief insights officer at e-commerce agency Front Row, said delivery speed has become a major focus for many companies. But same-day typically isn’t possible on their own. “You have to partner with somebody,” he said. “Last mile is super hard for everybody.”

Anthony Hockaday, director of dropship and marketplace solutions at 3PL provider Radial, said brands teaming up with retailers for delivery could become increasingly common as they look to compete. It’s an evolution of the ship-from-store model that many retailers may already have, he said. “The reality is most people want it as quickly as possible, and they want it for free, based on the precedent set by Amazon,” he said.

At Amazon-owned Whole Foods, bringing in Bouqs offers an opportunity to drive up cart sales. Scott Collier, vp of business development, told Modern Retail that he anticipates Bouqs to be a hit with people looking for gifts, with the opportunity to pair a floral arrangement with chocolates, candles or a Whole Foods gift card. “They are offering a fully deliverable gift experience that is very complementary to what we offer,” he said. “They can take it to the next level, and offer delivery with a gift card. It’s very customized.”

Collier said that it’s a complementary fit because Bouqs partners with some of the same floral suppliers that Whole Foods already works with. Not only does that mean the two companies can share some inventory for certain types of flowers that are coming straight from the farm, but Collier said Whole Foods is strict about sourcing for the brands it lets into its stores. “We’re very thoughtful as to who we want to be our partner in our stores,” he said. “A super important part for us, when we’re finding partners, is that [they] meet our quality standards in terms of ingredients and sourcing practices.”