Informative breakout session at SAF Convention focuses on what’s to come for the floral industry

Imagine if you had a crystal ball which would have allowed you to prepare for the Internet. Or the introduction of the smartphone. Consider the possibilities of having had this information and adjusting your strategy to leverage these megatrends to innovate your business.

Florists attending the recent Society of American Florists (SAF) 2018 Convention breakout session “The Future of the Retail Florist” had this opportunity. Floriology – with myself serving as moderator, presented these trends and recruited the following panel of progressive florists to make sense of it all: Jodi McShan, AAF, of McShan’s Florist in Dallas; Danny Sanchez of South Florals Group in Miami; and Chris Drummond, AAF, PFCI, of Plaza Florist in Norristown, Pa.

Here is a recap, as well as an intriguing and insightful discussion, with the intent of providing you with a head start on what’s in store for the coming years.


Amazon is the indisputable 800-pound gorilla in the online retail space. Its marketplace is unrivaled and it is now preferred over the Internet for shopping-minded consumers. This statement is not speculation but supported by data – a recent survey by Statista reveals 29% of shoppers visit Amazon first before they search the Internet.

The fact that Amazon continues to grow as an alternative marketplace was not missed by our panelists as they all participated in Amazon’s ShopLocal initiative where they can feature their products as Amazon listings. “It’s really something we had to explore and test out,” says Danny Sanchez. “It was a must to get involved when we had this opportunity.”

Amazon associate Jeff Cox, manager of the floral ShopLocal initiative who attended the session, reported he was at the convention with the intent of building their network of florists to participate in the program.

“Right now, we’re working with florists in 32 markets and are looking to expand to more than 90,” he said.

Another aspect of Amazon addressed by the session was the shopping giant’s ability to modify consumer buying habits and change expectations. Chris Drummond sparked discussion on how “Amazon creates a frictionless shopping experience” through technology and efficiency. “How can we as florists compete?” Jodi McShan recommended “florists focus on their specialty of providing excellent customer service and same-day delivery.”


Voice is fast becoming a preferred user interface between man and machine. Think Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. The panel played a video featuring Amazon’s Alexa using the company’s Echo devices:

How does this apply to the flower industry, you may ask? Well if the consumer can just say, “Echo, please send flowers to mom,” where does the florist fit in this specific sales funnel? Consider the reach of voice interface: not only can this be done on homebased Echo or Google or Apple devices, but on their smartphones as well. Chris Drummond added how voice interfaces are also not just the domain of the tech giants. Cable TV such as Xfinity and DirectTV and third-party entertainment streaming device providers such as Roku now all feature voice interfaces in their remotes. Now, reconsider Amazon’s proposal to participate in their ShopLocal program…this would be an ideal way for you to jump into this sales funnel!


Although not a new trend, mobile is continually worth a discussion for the sole reason that more consumers are using smartphones to research – and purchase, products. It’s not just enough to confirm you have a mobile-responsive website but that it’s also optimized for mobile devices. It’s just a fact, slower websites lose customers.

For our industry, the main challenges are the number of large photos florists feature on the web, along with old web technology like Javascript, which will slow the website down for mobile customers, even when they are surfing on faster networks. You can check all these mobile optimization issues at:


Trends discussed were not purely technology-based.
Demographics were a big part of the discussion with close attention paid to attracting Millennial customers. Fortunately, Floriology’s close relationship with the American Floral Endowment (AFE) provided insight into their “Marketing Tactics to Increase Millennial Floral Purchases,” which highlight strategies on attracting Millennials through “experiential opportunities.”

Florists are challenged to compete with groceries and supermarkets selling flowers on price and convenience, however if florists were to offer in-shop activities where Millennials could socialize and learn more about flowers, this presents an opportunity to create new customers, according to AFE. Jodi McShan shared how her business gets great attendance and exposure through these types of events. “We engage customers through our classes (‘Designer Nights’) and every year we have Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their horse at the shop for people to bring their kids on the Saturday after Thanksgiving,” states Jodi.

Danny Sanchez offers customers the opportunity to #BetheFlorist (actual hashtag used in social posts) by holding regular classes at his Miami Flower Market location. Students are guided by his staff to design specific types of arrangements matching the season or themed occasion. Danny shared a video of the opportunity:

Check for future blog posts on for deep dives into the trends presented in this article with links to videos.