Budget constraints due to inflation, supply chain shortages and rising fuel costs are prompting some brides to consider renting reusable silk wedding flowers instead of buying fresh ones.
Something Borrowed Blooms’ ecommerce business sells rental silk floral bouquets for the occasion. Customers use the flowers and mail them back. And the company is busier than ever, says Lauren Bercier, co-founder and CEO.
Costs are on the rise no matter what industry. The wedding sector is no different. The average wedding cost $27,063 in 2021 and is on track to reach $27,805 in 2022, according to trade group the Wedding Report.
According to Digital Commerce 360 research, the Top 2000 retailers grew overall web sales 15.7% in 2021. Comparatively, retailers that sell only or mostly wedding goods grew 32.9%.
Something Borrowed Blooms has more than 20,000 unique items in its inventory ready to rent. That includes bouquets, garlands, lanterns, candle sticks, boutonnieres, corsages and other products, Bercier says. Flowers are made from silk produced overseas with other raw materials sourced from U.S.-based wholesalers, Bercier says. Most of the products are manufactured overseas.
Something Borrowed Blooms grew 90% in 2021 year over year.
“This year, we’re on track to grow 120% year over year,” Bercier says.
Something Borrowed Blooms expands online business
After six and a half years, Bercier says the company has managed to grow, even during the pandemic.
“During the height of the pandemic, we were able to grow our overall business 35%, which is not our normal growth rate,” she says. “The majority of our business is online.”
Bercier did not specify how much of its business is online but noted that the company provides wedding retailers with sample bouquets to carry at stores.
“It’s used as a closing tool once a bride has chosen a dress,” Bercier says. Each bouquet has a QR code that leads the shopper to the website.
“All of our transactions are online,” she says. “But sometimes a bride finds us through a physical retailer.”
Blended and unblended average order values (AOV) are different. Blended includes preview packs. Brides can order a sample bouquet, and samples with delivery are $40. The website offers photos of each design. Currently, AOV for blended orders is about $350. Orders without a preview pack included are about $600, Bercier says.
“But we’ve seen that $600 amount increase in the last 18 months,” Bercier says. “Our AOV has increased about 20% compared to 2021.”
Something Borrowed Blooms’ conversion rate is about 1%. Its $600 AOV is lower than the average cost of wedding flowers in the U.S., which is approximately $1,500, according to WeddingWire.com. WeddingWire is a marketplace that offers couples options for local wedding professionals and vendors.
Technology helps improve the customer experience
As the company’s popularity grew, Bercier says it became a priority to invest in an easy customer portal with a login and access to orders. Something Borrowed Blooms upgraded its website in the summer of 2021. Since then, customers can sign in into the website to view their orders. Over several months, Something Borrowed Blooms’ IT department developed customer-friendly website capabilities and ongoing bug fixes and upgrades.
“We don’t have an IT development budget of $15,000 to $20,000 a month,” Bercier says. “We combined our efforts with other website upgrades and bug fixes.”
The retailer recommends that couples dedicate 8% to 10% of their budgets to florals. Something Borrowed Blooms charges a 50% deposit to hold a customer’s orders. Customers can also adjust their order and edit as plans change, which is particularly useful as COVID-19 lingers on and plans change.
“We know brides tend to change their minds and we want to give them that flexibility to do so online,” she says. “When you compare to traditional vendors where you have to call or email or there might be a fee, it is convenient.”
There are no blackout dates or other restrictions to changing an existing order, she says. On average, customers place orders three to four months in advance.
“Some might go as far ahead as 12 to 18 months,” Bercier says.
Flowers with sustainability in mind
Sustainability is appealing to shoppers, Bercier says. Plus, data from The Knot shows that one in five couples throwing a personalized affair includes sustainable elements. 70% of couples say they did/will put some or significant effort into incorporating sustainable or eco-friendly options into their wedding. Using secondhand décor/upcycled items, minimizing food waste, and avoiding one-time use products are the most popular decisions, according to the survey, which included more than 15,000 couples who got married in 2021.
“Fresh flowers used once end up in a landfill. Our bouquets are used on average about 26 times per year,” Bercier says. “But we have some products on the shelf that have been in rotation for several years.
“When you compare it to fresh flowers sourced from all over the world and shipped via refrigerated containers, it’s an energy-intensive shipping method,” Bercier continues.
About 85% of the world’s source of fresh-cut flowers come from The Netherlands, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia and Colombia, according to Worlds Top Exports research. In the U.S., 75% of flowers are imported. Flowers can be transported up to 6,000 miles in refrigerated airplane holds. Emissions are problematic, but so are the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that can pollute groundwater and poison pollinators.
Something Borrowed Blooms also stores its silk flowers in Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) packaging. Retailers must adhere to certification standards and be able to track the source of raw materials, including inventory control, employee training, reporting, and invoicing, according to SFI. Foam cushions the flowers during shipping. The company reuses the foam, “forever, unless they get really damaged,” she says. “We never throw the foam inserts away.”
“It is important to us to continue to look at how to expand ways we can be more sustainable,” she says. “We understand that we need to be sincere. We make sure our customers can see the SFI stamp on our boxes so that people know and can feel good about making that choice.”
That choice is more expensive, Bercier says.
“It’s about 30% more expensive than a regular non-certified box,” she says. “The SFI-certified box is beautifully designed. That adds to the customer experience when they open it at home.”
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