Industry Talk: Sandy Hering
Consultant offers strategies for success at The Super Floral
Show and in business.
Sandy Hering, owner of Floral Marketing Innovations, is a floral
industry consultant who utilizes extensive experience to aid her
clients in creating competitive, high-quality floral
retail opportunities. She recently was vice president of floral
for Ahold USA, which owns U.S. supermarkets including Giant Food
and Stop & Shop Supermarket Company. Ms. Hering also serves on
the advisory board for The Super Floral Show. She talked with
Super Floral Retailing writer Morgan Chilson about ways that
florists can receive the most benefit from the show as well as
her take on mass-market floral retailers’ needs today.
Q. Why is it important to attend The Super Floral Show?
The No. 1 reason is that it allows you to see new ideas in
merchandising and products. Every retailer, vendor and supplier
needs to stay in tune with what’s going on in the marketplace.
What you’ll see at the show is different from the vendors and
products that you would normally be seeing, and sometimes you
find your own inspirations when you surround yourself with
Q. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of the show?
I recommend attending the education sessions. They allow you to
think, “Gee, I need to try something different next year; what
kind of ideas would possibly work in my business?” When you
spend that day listening to experienced people, you’ll get a
good game plan for the rest of the show.
Another strategy I would use is to make it a mission to see
every booth and go into the booths of the people with whom you
haven’t done business. There are some gems in
these booths that go untapped by those who get distracted by
presentations of vendors they already use. Wearing that buyer
badge, you should never be afraid to ask any question of anyone
at the show. Tell yourself, “I’m on a mission to discover at
least 10 new items that would not have been presented to me as a
buyer if I had not uncovered them at this show.”
Q. What do mass-market florists need to be concerned with
regarding industry trends and changes?
The trends I’m seeing are not revolutionary, but they are
evolutionary. Smart mass-market florists are looking for subtle
changes and finding ways to apply these trends to their
individual businesses. They must understand their product
niches, their emographics and how to accommodate their
merchandising programs to those specialized niches. Long gone
are the days when every floral department in supermarkets looked
the same. They shouldn’t. And if you’re a large chain, you
probably should have various approaches to merchandising
depending on the demographics of each particular neighborhood.
Q. What is essential to running a well-rounded mass-market
I strongly believe in the concept of category management, which
analyzes retailers’ data in order to develop valid strategies
and tactics that will carry them forward and become a
springboard for change. You use your experience from last year
to build better successes for tomorrow. It’s information-based
A concept that needs to be up front and in everyone’s eyes
before they go to a show like Super Floral is: “What can I do
tomorrow that I didn’t do yesterday. How can I change my floral
department?” If you don’t have change inbred in everything
you’re trying to accomplish, then nobody needs to go back to
your department. That’s why I believe that floral needs to focus
on the word “change.”
Q. What is necessary to be competitive?
The reasons customers buy floral is for gifts and for home
décor. I think our business model skipped a few beats while some
home décor companies actually grabbed some of our market share,
and I’m talking about good companies like Crate & Barrel and
Pottery Barn and others that used color and containers and
textures, usually without live goods, in a way that was better
than what those of us in live-goods marketing and horticulture
were doing. It’s time for us to take a page out of their books,
to do a better job with presentation, to do a better job with
colors and make sure that our customers are satisfied with
quality and buy live goods.
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