One of the fundamental rules of logistics is to avoid shipping air and water whenever possible. Packages and vehicles are optimized to reduce the amount of wasted space that could be used to ship additional products. The weight of water is so expensive to transport that many industries design an entire supply chain around reducing the distance that liquid goods must travel from the point of production to the point of sale. For the flower industry, in which the quality and lifespan of goods are often dependent on the presence of air and water, logistical challenges of doing business on a global scale are of high importance.
Two important factors to consider when designing a supply chain strategy in the flower industry are the unit price and hardiness of a given flower species. It may be cost-effective to ship rare flowers over a large distance if the high market price negates high shipping costs, but common flowers most likely do not yield high enough profits to offset the cost of international distribution. Some flowers can be shipped in rectangular boxes for a few days without losing their desired appearance, but many cannot survive without constant access to a water source.
FedEx offers special direct shipping rates from farms to international customers that allow cut flowers to be delivered in less than four days. This may be the best option for small businesses unable to sell large enough quantities to justify an independent global supply chain. Large growers may choose to ship directly to consumers through mail order systems or to wholesalers who will distribute them to individual florists.
Due to the seasonality of flower growth and the peaks in demand around major holiday seasons, flower businesses must accurately forecast demand to maximize market share and compete successfully in the marketplace. With sharp demand spikes on specific days of the year, transportation and logistics for flower businesses must have the capacity to meet high levels of demand at one time without requiring an unnecessarily large capital investment for the remainder of the year.
For an industry in which timing is everything, each grower must develop a comprehensive supply chain strategy that allows them to meet the needs of target consumers. Customers expect products to be delivered in very narrow time frames with the highest level of quality. Flowers that bloom too early or too late are useless to a lover on Valentine’s Day or a high school student looking to impress their prom date.