Though using the online channel to order flowers for delivery is nothing new, it’s safe to say that most consumers have no idea where those flowers are coming from and what the supply chain is that’s used to get that delivery from Point A to Point B.
But huge economic and environmental waste comes as a result of many of those flowers not even surviving long enough to make it through the traditional supply chain, and John Tabis, co-founder and CEO of The Bouqs Company, knew it was time for a change.
As on online retailer for flower delivery, the Bouqs Co. is taking a unique approach to disrupting the floral industry by focusing on an efficient, direct-from-source supply chain that enables customers to know exactly where their flowers come from and how they were farmed.
Tabis shared with PYMNTS why transparency of source is so important and how optimizing the floral supply chain with a tech-first approach is changing the future of the flower delivery game.
PYMNTS: How did the Bouqs Company get started?
JT: My cofounder, Juan Pablo Montúfar, grew up on his family’s flower farm in Ecuador, and after a decade of working in the U.S. he moved back to Ecuador to run a flower farm. He quickly found that it was a tough business, and to combat some of the challenges, he built a direct-from-Ecuador supply chain. This model was significantly better for the farm than the traditional resale market, resulting in fresher flowers for less cost for his buyers and better margin and cash flow for the farm. While his career was in biochemistry and farming, mine was focused on brand and strategy, and Juan Pablo (“JP”) reached out to me to talk about how we might market this product. I had been frustrated by the out-of-touch brands in the floral space, the cheesy upsells, and the bait-and-switch pricing, and I thought we could put together my vision for a simpler, more modern brand in the space with his vision for a more efficient supply chain. We raised $13,000 from friends and family and launched the site a few months later.
PYMNTS: What was the inspiration behind using a direct-to-consumer eCommerce business model versus using a solely brick-and-mortar or physical channel?
JT: JP’s insights into the significant waste and inefficiency of the existing supply chain was the biggest inspiration for us. Somewhere around 50 percent of flowers perish without ever being monetized in the traditional supply chain — a huge environmental and economic waste. His direct-ship supply chain eliminated over 95 percent of that waste, saved clients money and ensured transparency of source. There were so many benefits to this model that we knew we had to pursue it.
There is and always will be a role for brick-and-mortar floral shops, but that has trended more and more toward design, installation and event-driven services over the years. And we see our florist partners as a great way to have a local presence and to continue to grow the brand as well. But shortening the supply chain and making it transparent via direct sourcing is a fundamental part of what we’re building.
PYMNTS: How has the company disrupted or changed the floral industry?
JT: There had never really been a branded, direct-ship, international, tech-first supply chain in this industry. So we are literally reinventing how this all works. We fundamentally alter the economics for our partner farms, delivering more of the value chain to them, which means they can invest more in their people and their practices. We only work with farms that are certified sustainable and that treat their employees with respect. In this manner, we’re driving outsized economic returns only to those farms that do it the right way, and we create social change through that model. So while we’re not a social cause company on the face of things, our model reinforces and grows the responsible farming movement.
PYMNTS: The direct-to-consumer concept for selling flowers is a market that’s been around for some time now. How does the Bouqs Company stand out against bigger players and other new entrants?
JT: Our tech platform enables transparency and flexibility unlike anything seen before in this industry. We are able to tell a consumer exactly where a flower comes from and when it was cut and ensure the least time possible between cut and delivery as a result. And the social good component is wholly unique, not just in the supply chain but in the brand. Traditionally, flower buying has been a commoditized, emotionless process. By building our mission around honest marketing, sustainability, responsible labor practices and transparency of source, we’ve created a unique relationship with customers who really care about where their flowers come from and how they are farmed.
PYMNTS: How do you see the global floral industry evolving in the future? What do you expect the Bouqs Company’s role to be in that change?
JT: We plan to be the largest floral brand in the world and to fundamentally change the way flowers get from farm to table, all driven by technology first. As the world gets smaller, farmers from all over the world will have an opportunity to get their best product into the hands of the right buyer, at the right time, in the most efficient manner possible. Our tech platform will be what enables that vision to happen.
PYMNTS: What is your take on the “Warby of X” concept? Do you see direct-to-consumer evolving as a sustainable business model that can continue to spark disruption?
JT: From Bonobos to Casper to the Bouqs Company, the idea of vertically integrated, digitally native brands is here to stay. While Amazon continues to eat the standard, day-to-day online transaction markets, brands that deliver a differentiated product within a brand that means something to the customer will continue to thrive. As mobile, wearable and AR/VR tech continues to advance, I see only more and more opportunity for unique brands to build big businesses quickly.
PYMNTS: What’s next for The Bouqs Company? Do you have any news or updates you can share?
JT: On the heels of our $24 million Series C growth round led by Partech Ventures, we are doubling the team, opening up a new headquarters in Venice Beach, Calif., and growing the business faster than ever. We have a number of new and interesting efforts on the roadmap that you’ll see later this year, and you can check out our Weddings and Events product, which is growing at 200 percent year over year. More to come soon!