Florists using technology to see black among the red

With Valentine’s Day making its annual return this Sunday, florists are using all means necessary to prepare for the big day, including technology applications to help them better plan inventory and manage orders.

With Valentine’s Day making its annual return this Sunday, florists are using all means necessary to prepare for the big day, including technology applications to help them better plan inventory and manage orders.

Melbourne florist Michael Pavlou, owner of Azalea Flowers in South Melbourne Market, has worked in the industry since the age of 10, when he wrapped flowers for his uncle at the Camberwell Market stall.

Mr Pavlou said the sheer size of the Valentine’s Day rush means that florists can’t simply rely on their wits and memory to get them through.

“You can’t really compare Valentine's Day to anything else in any other industry, as far as trying to keep up with demand,” he said.

“As part of our preparation, we make up as many arrangements as possible for two days beforehand, because as soon as we open, it is flat out busy until we sell out.”

Those preparations, according to Michael, start well in advance of the big day, with orders coming in as early as the first week of January.

Michael has turned his attention to new technologies to help him manage this rush. He has found value in point-of-sale app Square Register, which combines basic reporting and analytics with inventory management and analysis.

One benefit of this has been being able to track which types of flowers are most popular, and how this popularity changes at different times throughout the year.

“Being able to check my data from last year’s sales while ordering flowers now makes life so much easier,” Michael said.

It came as no surprise to Michael that red roses are the most popular flower for Valentine’s Day, but he was able to narrow this down to identify 30cm-50cm rose bouquets as more in demand than garden flowers and single stem roses.

Michael also discovered that not too far behind red roses, dahlias, oriental lilies and chrysanthemums were a popular choice, while a somewhat unexpected new trend became evident.

“It goes without saying that Valentine's Day is all about red roses. However, in recent times our native arrangements have been really popular for people who are after something a bit different.” he said.

As a result, Michael has been able to take last year’s sales data to improve his inventory control for this year – generating both cost savings on unsold stock and boosting sales opportunities by meeting customer demand.

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