Packing a powerful punch
Prepackaged products help knock out retailers’ labor,
shrinkage and cost-management challenges.
By Monica Humbard
Few products multitask like prepackaged mixed foliages and
filler flowers. While many suppliers initially designed them
with consumers in mind, retailers have found their own uses for
them. Not only can these products assist retailers with labor
issues but they also can help with managing inventory and
Many retailers are searching for ways to cut labor costs and
maximize the efficiency of their employees, helping prepackaged
mixed filler flower and foliage bunches—often more accurately
referred to as bouquets—evolve into a strong category in recent
years. Prepackaged mixed fillers:
• Speed up the design process. Jaleen Gaisford, assistant
manager of the floral design center at Harmons, a 12-store chain
based in West Valley City, Utah, says prepackaged mixed fillers
and foliages cut design time by at least half. She finds them
especially helpful at holiday times, particularly with
dozen-rose arrangements for Valentine’s Day.
• Reduce the level of design skills needed. Susan Murdock of
World Class Flowers, Egg Harbor City, N.J., says prepackaged
mixed fillers and foliages allow floral departments to employ
staffs with little design experience and minimal training. By
utilizing a mixed greens bouquet, for example, a floral clerk
can quickly and easily upgrade a dozen-rose bunch into an
elegant rose bouquet.
Ms. Gaisford says prepackaged mixed fillers and foliages have
helped make Harmons’ new “Build Your Own Bouquet” program
possible. Customers are welcome to purchase the program’s
bouquets and arrange them at home, or they also can request that
a floral manager place them into a vase or create a quick,
simple arrangement. Ms. Gaisford conducts classes for the floral
managers to ensure they are confident and comfortable with the
• Eliminate processing time. For some retailers, the labor
savings is in processing time. Mark Thompson, general manager of
sales and marketing at The Hiawatha Corporation, Shelton, Wash.,
says the Christmas season is an ideal time for those who do
in-house design work to use prepackaged foliages and fillers.
Mr. Thompson says they help retailers avoid buying cases of
individual products and having to process each one.
shrinkage and inventory
Retailers choosing to use prepackaged mixed foliages and filler
flowers have found they cut back on shrinkage, manage costs and
control inventory. Prepackaged mixed fillers can help floral
• Reduce waste. Jana Register, director of sales and marketing
for FernTrust, Inc., Seville, Fla., says that when using mixed
prepackaged filler and foliage bouquets for design work, floral
departments leave “nothing on the design floor.” Ms. Gaisford
attests to that. She has noticed that her chain has less
shrinkage because designers are more likely to use all the
product, compared to when the chain orders individual items in
bulk and throws out some every week.
Andy Collins, sales manager for Sutton Ferneries, based in
Miami, Fla., points out that many floral departments never count
greens because they consider their cost minimal. But, he says, a
stem of Italian Ruscus can cost more than a single rose. At the
supermarket level, he says, the amount of waste can be
• Manage inventory to control costs. Ms. Gaisford also has found
that prepackaged mixed fillers and foliages help her manage
inventory. The chain orders just what it needs for each week.
• Manage and control arrangement/bouquet costs. Bruce Brady,
business development manager for The Sun Valley Group, Arcata,
Calif., points out that using such prepackaged products can help
retailers control and manage design costs. They know the exact
dollar amount going into each bouquet or arrangement. They
simply add up the cost of the prepackaged greens, flowers,
containers and labor. There also is less danger of designers
creating arrangements that can never sell for the cost of the
products that went into them.
how to buy
While mixed foliages and filler flowers can be purchased in
bulk, many suppliers recommend ordering them wrapped in sleeves.
Mr. Thompson, with Hiawatha, which sells its mixed foliage and
filler bouquets both ways, notes that the cost is higher for
sleeve-wrapped bouquets because of the sleeve expense and the
wrapping labor required. For most retailers, however, this type
of packaging probably will pay off in the end.
Ms. Murdock, with World Class Flowers, recommends sleeved
bouquets instead of the bulk option because floral departments
can put unused bouquets out on the sales floor for purchase. In
fact, she encourages retailers to use more appealing clear
sleeves rather than grower sleeves and to have UPC codes printed
on them. She says that some retailers even choose to merchandise
the inventory on the sales floor and grab what they need for
designing from the display.
Since FernTrust started offering prepackaged mixed filler and
foliage bouquets, Ms. Register has found that both individual
departments and large production lines, such as those found at
design centers, have come to the conclusion that this type of
product is “indispensable.” Once they try this concept, she
says, “They never go back.”
You may reach Contributing Editor Monica Humbard by phone at
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