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Creative and innovative floristry: the answer to online competition

As Internet sales continue to rise across Europe, Royal FloraHolland, the biggest Auction house in the Netherlands, offers some timely advice for florists.

The 'classic' consumer habit of just dropping by the florist to buy flowers before visiting someone is changing. Purchasing online has become ingrained.

The changing consumption behaviour of the past few years has had a direct impact on florists, according to market specialist Erwin Sneiders. "The florist is having to deal with lower revenue and rising costs. Increasing pressure is being exerted on Dutch florists as well as on florists in our neighbouring countries." For Royal FloraHolland this is a development that needs close monitoring. The traditional trade is still a major buyer of flowers and plants.


Florists experience competition from markets and garden centres, but also increasingly from supermarkets, which have snatched up a significant market share with their low prices. In addition, the proportion of online purchases continues to expand, partly due to the surprising and innovative concepts entering the market of flowers and plants.


The numbers tell the story. Consumer research done by Royal FloraHolland revealed that consumers in Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands are finding it more and more normal to buy flowers or plants via webshops. This development is especially apparent in the UK. In 2016, the so-called 'box flower delivery' segment here was responsible for 8% of the volume of cut flowers and 13% of the money spent.

In the other three countries, such high shares are not yet evident. But we expect further growth in these markets as well. In 2016, 5% was spent in the Netherlands on flowers via webshops. In Germany, this was 4% and in France, 2%. If we add on the orders placed on the websites of florists, transport organisations and supermarkets, then the percentage rises. In the UK it becomes 23%, in France 14.5%, in the Netherlands and Germany about 12%.

It is striking that French consumers order relatively more via the website of the florist than those in the other three countries. The percentage of online orders via transport organisations is also higher in France than in the other three sales markets.


How can florists stay ahead of the competition? Questions that florists could ask are:

  • How professionally do I approach my operational management and do I pay enough time and attention to the shop's appearance and marketing?
  • Do I invest in the relationship with my customers?
  • Do I have a clear image of my added value (Unique Selling Proposition) for customers?
  • To what extent do I offer houseplants or related articles alongside the flowers?
  • To what extent do I explore other target groups than private individuals?


It is striking that the vast majority of florists work independently. This often leads to the retailer being forced to stick to traditional purchasing methods. In Germany and France, chains (franchises) have arisen that are better at confronting the new challenges. Their share of the total market is still relatively small. In France the florist chains make up around 10% of the total number of florists in the country.


To stay ahead of the competition, florists will have to focus on the creative aspect of their trade and distinguish themselves with innovative shop concepts. This will allow them to keep surprising their customers and excelling in service. In other words: paying more attention to the appearance of a shop, smarter organisation of the purchasing, offering a unique assortment, forming relationships with your customers and developing a multi-channel approach.