Though you may see many products in a retail store, you may not know how many of them get there. The products end up in the aisle thanks to something called the 'supply chain'. This is the general process on a product going from raw material to something which can be sold to the end customer. Flower arrangements get there in the same way. However, there are a few key points to how a bouquet gets on the shelf. The most important of the variables being speed.
From the Earth
A flower comes from the ground at the beginning of its life. This is relatively obvious. But the process isn't as simple as that. In order for us, and may other companies like us, to fulfill our order quantities we need a lot of flowers. This is where the first part of the supply chain comes in - the grower. The grower is responsible for growing and nurturing large quantities of all sorts of floral life in order to fulfill the demands of companies like ours. This is a scientific process and sparing the gritty details, the grower is the first step of the supply chain.
Growers to Wholesalers
From the grower, the raw material goes to the wholesaler. In the floral industry, the wholesaler is typically the part of the supply chain where the flowers are most commonly arranged into bouquets. In our market, there are 2 ways which the wholesaler (like us) acquire the floral products. first is directly from the grower. We have established relationships over many years of business which allow us purchase our raw material directly from the grower. The second, is through a flower auction. The raw materials are brought to the flower auction, which most of the local wholesalers and distributors attend. The flowers brought to auction are sold as most items would be through an auction: through a bidding process. This means the wholesalers and distributors have to research and plan what they need to fulfill there orders, and purchase the products accordingly, hoping that the price is right. This is a time intensive task and requires a lot of industry experience to do well at to ensure the companies can still remain profitable.
From the Wholesaler to the Distributor
Once the floral products are brought back to our warehouse (as the wholesaler), they are most often arranged into beautiful bouquets according to how many orders need to be fulfilled. Once the bouquets are arranged by our professionals, they are then packaged and ready to be brought to the retailer. But how do they get there? Well in most industries, the distributor is the next step of the supply chain. However, due to the fragile life cycle of a flower, most wholesalers also act as the distributor. This means we then load our packaged products onto our trucks through our shipping department at our in-house order fulfillment centre.
Arriving at the Retailer
The products then make their way to the retailer, finally to be presented to the end customer as a beautiful bouquet. This is the trickiest part of our journey. With our local customers (local retailers), we hand deliver each stores order as our focus is to bring the best service possible. This means we bring each order of bouquets to each store and set them up ourselves - which is a part of why we bring such quality products to the market. Our drivers will bring each bouquet into the shops by hand and merchandise them on the shelves. This takes a lot of time, but the kicker is that it still needs to be done very quickly, again due to the fragile life cycle of the flower arrangements. If the products are being brought out to stores which are out of our local area through the larger retail accounts we have, then we load them up into a different truck and deliver them to the various shipping warehouses to be sent out there.
Why is Speed the Most Crucial Variable?
As mentioned, the life cycle of a flower is short. This means from the time it comes from the grower to get to shelf for the end customer, we have on average 1 week to buy the flowers, assemble to bouquets, and deliver it to the retailer as quickly and efficiently as possible. On top of the promptness, we need to ensure we will have premium quality arrangements, as well as a full service offering.
As you might be able to imagine, this means we have to have our systems dialled in and well organized. Because if we don't, we end up with oversights or missteps along the way. It all sounds very stressful, and some days it can be, but we love it. The industry is in the blood of the family which owns the company (the Leenstra's) and has been for 2 generations, so we love it. The Leenstra family has been a part of the DNA of the floral industry in the lower mainland, so though it does require some stress, and a lot of attention to detail, it is a business of passion and legacy. That passion transcends from the owners, to the drivers, to the warehouse workers, to the bouquet makers. We love it and wouldn't have it any other way.
This is how hard we work to bring you, the end customer, premium quality products each and every day.