Fleet software lets revenue bloom during February

Advanced transportation technology such as logistics software will come in handy for a variety of businesses in the floral industry as Valentine's Day approaches.

February is one of the busiest months for florists and their suppliers. Not only do small and midsize businesses around the country depend on shipments from growers, but consumers also have access to more flexible purchasing options than ever before. For example, shoppers can buy flowers online and get them delivered with relative ease. This has magnified the role of ground transportation for floral businesses. As these firms approach the traditionally lucrative Valentine's Day holiday, fleet managers must make sure they are able to handle a sudden increase in sales volume.

February is usually an important month for florists
A recent press release from the Web-based vendor Flower Delivery Express examined the sharp increase in activity many companies experience in the weeks approaching Feb. 14. In fact, the organization reported that as many as 110 million roses are purchased and delivered within a three-day period every year for Valentine's Day. However, recent economic conditions have made it harder for florists to take full advantage of this annual business opportunity. Last year, the National Retail Federation released a report claiming most consumers were generally feeling more cautious about the amount of money they were willing to spend on roses and other flowers compared to previous years. The average person in 2013 was expected to spend $130.97 on Valentine's Day-related gifts. That number is only about $4 more than what consumers expected to pay in 2012.

The sharp increase in demand in the early weeks of February typically sends the price of flowers skyrocketing. The Record, a local newspaper based in Hackensack, N.J., highlighted the struggles florists often face to grab a hold of their supplies before too late.

"It's all about red roses," Chet Douglass, the owner of Schweinfurth Florists in Midland Park, N.J., told the publication. "All roses increase in price dramatically this time of year. It starts with the grower; they know they have a commodity that people are dying to get. That makes a scarcity in the product, and it shows in the prices."

Increased competition highlights importance of logistics
Reliable ground transportation is crucial for experiencing success during this busy season. For example, distributors aiming to disperse rose shipments from ports and fulfillment facilities to various businesses around the country may want to invest in tools such as warehouse distribution software to organize the scheduling process and meet the demands of buyers. Time is typically of the essence during these seasonal sales jumps, so any kind of technology that eliminates waste by boosting efficiency will come as an advantage.

Even small and midsize florists can benefit from logistics software. Many of these enterprises take it into their own hands to deliver flowers and special-order floral arrangements to local customers. Whether the firm owns a fleet of heavy-duty trucks or small vans, automated transportation management tools provide better methods for getting around town as quickly as possible.

Many entrepreneurs have found success with online-based floral businesses, which also depend heavily on a high-performing network of reliable fleets. A recent article in the Chicago Tribunehighlighted the growth of startups such as BloomNation, which provide alternative supply chains for florists who would otherwise depend on shipments from large, national distributors. The spread of these businesses has coincided with increased industry competition. When more firms attempt to attract a smaller number of customers, seemingly small details such as ground transportation suddenly become more important.

With the right fleet software, managers at any point in the supply chain will have the ability to deliver their products with maximum speed and efficiency. This competitiveness is what will enable these firms to experience a meaningful increase in revenue from such a short season. Because flowers are so perishable, fast and consistent shipping at both the local and national level is a necessary aspect of any related industry operation. Reducing transportation costs may also help businesses find a greater balance in overhead spending, especially as the price of flowers soars in the weeks before Valentine's Day. These firms can justify purchasing more expensive flowers when their fleets are positioned to handle any challenge that arises.