how to start a flower subscription business

Florists are time-tested and proven business models. Floristry can be traced back to 2500 BC, with rock carvings indicating the Egyptians used floral arrangements in royal settings for their luxury and beauty. 

While it might be an art form as old as time, a disruptive industry is beginning to emerge. Driven by consumer appetite for subscription businesses and the conveniences they offer, subscription flower businesses are quickly blossoming into blooming opportunities for savvy flower farmers and floral-preneurs as they offer so many advantages.

How do flower subscription business models work?

Flower bouquet subscriptions streamline the process of flower purchasing, removing the brick-and-mortar reseller and allowing customers to purchase and send flowers online and direct.

A floral subscription business is based on the same tried and proven subscription business model many others operate on, in which the flower business enters into a contract with the customer to deliver fresh flowers on an agreed frequency (e.g. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).

In return, the subscriber pays an agreed amount – often monthly or as a yearly fee. This contract runs for a defined term, often annually, at the conclusion of which the subscriber may choose to cancel or continue their subscription.

There are several reasons someone would have flowers delivered on a subscription, from supporting a local small business, to wanting a regular excuse to brighten up their office or home. 

Steps to set up a flower subscription business

Floral bouquet subscriptions are rising in popularity, with many florists realizing the benefits of having reliable, recurring income.

Below, we break down the main steps to consider when beginning your own online floral bouquet subscription business.

Step 1: Designing your business plan

Your floral subscription business plan should entail several aspects of the business:

  • Defining your subscription offering
  • Giving an overview of the problem you’re solving for consumers
  • Identifying your target market and customer base 
  • Conducting a competitive analysis and how your offering is different
  • Creating your pricing strategy
  • Planning your sales and marketing strategy
  • Accounting for operational and logistical factors (e.g. how you intend to distribute your product)

A vital component of developing your floral subscription business is deciding on your offering. This may sound redundant (flowers, duh) but it’s still important to consider how you are different from competitors. Your plan might include environmentally sustainable credentials and branding, or free care guide so your customers can get the most time out of their blooms. 

When pricing your service, consider that customers often embrace a bouquet subscription because of the cost benefits, alongside the convenience of having flowers delivered. For a longer commitment, they often expect a better price than if they were to purchase them from a brick-and-mortar store.

Consider offering different price points to appeal to more customers.

Step 2: Deciding on your platform

With the boom in subscription e-commerce, there’s been a corresponding boom in subscription platforms. But not all are created equal. 

The most simple but effective solution is an all-in-one platform with the flexibility to establish everything from tiered membership options to a curated library of exclusive content.

These all-in-one options are popular with small businesses as they remove the need to rely on separate plugins and allow you to manage email marketing, upsells, inventory tracking, and more from one interface.

Step 3: Creating your website 

Now you’ve decided on your product and pricing, it’s time to create your website. This is your primary customer interface and should clearly communicate your USP (unique selling proposition), share photos and details about your product, and entice potential customers to become subscribers.

An all-in-one platform will also allow you to build and manage your flower subscription business’s website.

The less efficient alternative is using a separate website hosting service along with one or more plugins for your chosen subscription management platform. 

Step 4: Creating a marketing plan

In contrast to traditional business models that primarily use marketing to attract new customers, subscription-based ecommerce uses marketing for multiple reasons:

  • Customer retention
  • Subscriber acquisition 
  • Reactivating lapsed subscribers
  • Increasing brand awareness

Your bouquet subscription business marketing strategy may incorporate social media posts, SMS or leveraging influencers in your niche.

It can also be used to enhance the buyer journey with optional upgrades or product add-ons, free trials or samples and discounts for longer-term commitments. 

Step 5: Packaging and logistics

The fulfillment of your flower subscriptions needs to be fine-tuned and streamlined as much as possible. Flower delivery should be fast, your packaging should take up as little storage space as practicable, and your flower delivery company should be fit for purpose and reliable.

Your product packaging is the first impression your customer receives of the quality of your product. Consider whether your subscription flowers will be shipped in a box or as hand-held bouquets.

If you choose a box, you could choose to add care instructions or flower food to extend vase life. Or add some colorful tissue paper or line the inside with a pretty print. If you opt for a bouquet, you could add a personalized gift tag or a bag of flower feed tied to a stem. 

Step 6: Making a sample box

Your sample box should emulate the product exactly as received by the customer, right down to the last petal. When perfecting your unboxing experience, you should consider:

  1. The contents of your box, including your floral design
  2. Your box’s design and packaging
  3. How to optimize the physical unboxing experience
  4. Including opportunities for personalization
  5. Encouraging subscribers to share and engage with CTAs

Step 7:  Launching your business (and telling people about it)

With your business plan, shipping, marketing strategy and sample box firmly in place, you can officially launch your bouquet subscription business model. Selling your first few boxes or bouquets may sound daunting, but there are some easy ways to start selling your subscription flowers.

Consider leading with a pre-launch, or soft launch. This is conducted through a landing page that teases your ‘coming soon’ subscription bouquets with fresh, seasonal flowers. Interested customers can leave their details and ask to be contacted when you launch officially. These are warm leads and easier to convert when you hit the ground running.

Your family and friends are low-hanging fruit, so make sure they share the news with their networks. Maximize your reach on social media by sharing photos and launch-only special offers, as well as looping in with influencers in your area.

Step 8: Monitoring churn and retention

Once your flower subscription business has launched, it’s important to monitor your customer churn. If your voluntary churn rate increases (which means subscribers are choosing to cancel their subscriptions) this indicates a problem with your product or service. 

Customer retention should be a core focus because it’s easier and less costly to nurture existing customers than acquire new ones. Repeat customers are the lifeblood of subscription-based businesses after all.

Selling floral subscriptions online

Offering a flower bouquet subscription involves some forward planning. Subscription flowers need to be planted well in advance to make sure a steady stream of blooms is available. This involves learning which local flowers thrive in your area. Growing flowers underpins your whole business and, the more easily they grow, the easier it will be for you to fulfill shipments.

What separates floral subscriptions from many other subscription-based businesses is that they run on pre-sales. The product doesn’t exist yet – you’re still growing it!

If you have an established floristry, you likely have plenty of photos and social proof of the kind of subscription flowers you produce. 

However, this isn’t as simple for a new grower. While it might be a good idea to consider only adding a subscription service after 1-2 years of floristry, there are no hard and fast rules as to when it should be done.

If you’re starting your flower business with a subscription service, ensure you make a photographable version of your sample bouquet and the different versions you may be selling. 

Pros and cons of flower subscriptions

As with any business model, flower subscription businesses come with both positives and negatives:

Pro: Inventory management

Advance orders allow florists and flower growers to plan ahead. As flower subscription services are fulfilled on a contract basis, this gives the business visibility into demand well in advance. This means the appropriate amount of seeds can be planted and waste can be reduced. 

However, flower subscription business owners should also consider scheduling shipments on different rotations, based on seasonal flowers, so the garden is never completely barren. 

Pro: Nurture customer relationships

The nature of subscription services makes it possible to build longer, stronger customer relationships. From the moment the customer begins their contract, you begin collecting data which allows you to customize future bouquets and tailor interactions to their preferences.

Pro: Gorgeous blooms, happy customers

Offering bouquet subscriptions allows you to make use of seasonal, fresh flowers. Using that season’s blooms means the customer is receiving the highest quality flowers. Satisfied customers mean ongoing subscriptions. 

Con: Driving cash flow in the off-season

A floral subscription service is a very seasonal business, meaning it’s equally important to manage stock during the growing season and low season. While it’s easy to get carried away with your summer blooms, it’s important to seed for autumn and winter so you have a sufficient supply of floral delights.

Con: Customer dissatisfaction

The customer may not understand the service they’re signing up for (which is another reason your website is so important). A flower subscription service also necessitates the customer surrendering some element of control over the type of flowers they receive. On occasion, you may encounter some unhappy subscribers.

Con: Shipping costs

Flowers are beautiful but fragile, making them more difficult to transport. They need to be transported with minimal movement, in a cool environment, preferably with water. These requirements can mean they are more costly to transport than non-perishable products.

Key takeaways

Whether you’re a budding small business entrepreneur or looking for new ways to drive income to your existing florist or flower farming business, it’s the perfect time to add a subscription service to your business model and distinguish yourself from other local florists. 

While there are some unique challenges facing flower subscription services due to the perishable product, the opportunities in consistent, forecastable revenue and a reliable customer base outweigh the risk for many budding business moguls.

Take the time to hone your business model and understand your customer demographic so you can establish your subscription flowers business for success — and make sure you’re running your business with a subscription-first platform like Subbly that’ll help you grow your revenue while simplifying billing, website creation, manage shipping and logistics, and marketing. Get started in minutes today.

By Zaki Gulamani
Сontent creator at Subbly