Sustainable packaging and an innovative delivery model have enabled the flower company to thrive.
Ordering flowers online used to be fraught with problems. How will they look? How long will they last? What if no-one’s at home to receive them? Enter Bloom & Wild, brainchild of CEO Aron Gelbard, which has been breathing fresh life into the market, one letterbox at a time, since 2013.
In a UK fresh cut flower market worth £2.2bn, Gelbard seized an opportunity to disrupt the norm by pioneering next-day letterbox flowers, almost eliminating the risk of missed deliveries. To maximise the vase life of the bouquets and to allow them to be packaged in flat, slim boxes, Bloom & Wild’s flowers are delivered in bud, which presents both challenges and benefits in terms of supply.
To escape a highly fragmented supply chain where the incentive can be to sell the oldest stock first, it buys direct from suppliers, who often have their own farms, whether in Europe or Kenya.
“We have a number of planting programmes where we grow stems purely for our bouquets,” says Olivia Harvey, range lead. “The roses for our Valentine’s bouquets, for example, have all been grown by a French family business, who have been growing roses in Kenya for generations.”
This gives Bloom & Wild better control, because timing is key, says Henry Mower, operations lead. The company works closely with growers on the ‘cut stage’ of a flower, he says, as different varieties need to be cropped at different times.
“Bud to bloom is central to our core,” says Mower. “If we cut too early, the flowers will be closed on arrival and may take several days to open. While this means that the customer’s bouquet will last longer, it can take a few days to reach its full beauty and as a gifting product we don’t want the recipient to wait too long. We want our in-bud stems to be showing enough colour for ‘wow factor’ on arrival. However, if we pack the stems when the buds are beginning to bloom, the delicate petals can be bruised.”
The company offers a curated range of bouquets to prevent customers being overwhelmed by choice, and this also helps minimise wastage. The supply chain is optimised to keep the flowers fresh, and data-driven forecasting algorithms ensure that it only orders what is needed. A further strategy to reduce wastage is limiting flowers on offer to those that travel best in bud, in boxes.
At the point of delivery, the company is keen to delight and has developed data systems that work with suppliers such as Royal Mail – these predict the probability of flowers getting stuck in the carrier’s network and arriving late or already in bloom and, where this is a risk, it proactively sends out a replacement so that the recipient can enjoy flowers that are still in bud or just starting to bloom.
The size and shape of Bloom & Wild’s boxes is designed to maximise the vase life of bouquets, whilst still enabling the innovative letterbox delivery format. This minimises missed deliveries and helps to reduce its carbon footprint by shipping boxes that are measured to fit.
But it’s not all about the boxes. The company adds nets onto some of its most delicate blooms to protect them in transit. “The little nets have become one of the most commented-on features,” says Josh Roberts, head of expansion.
While keeping an eye on cost, Bloom & Wild’s number one objective is ensuring all items are either recyclable, biodegradable or re-usable.
“Our boxes are now 100% recyclable,” says Roberts. “Within the next few months we will have moved to using a new netting and cello material, which will be fully biodegradable.”