Arena Flowers Prepares for Valentine’s Day
David Brackin is the managing director of Stuff U Sell, the leading eBay trading assistant in the UK and a regular Tamebay contributor. In this post he explores the run up to the biggest day in the floristry year and how Arena Flowers deals with the huge surge in demand for romantic blooms.
It’s the day before Valentine’s day, which for many of us might mean it’s time to start thinking about what we might organise for Tuesday or perhaps whether we’re cooking-in or dining out. For others – it might be hiding from it all. For Will Wynne of Arena Flowers, who used to work for eBay, it means once again ramping up his flower delivery service to deliver a million red roses to buyers in the UK. I was up at his warehouse in Milton Keynes to see the world’s most sophisticated flower operation in progress.
It’s a vast warehouse housing the million roses flown in from Kenya that they will package and ship in the next 48hrs and it’s a freezing cold February night which will keep the them in tip top condition prior to delivery. This is a well-oiled operation, and there is plenty to learn from watching it for our own dispatch operations, no matter what the size.
The first thing that strikes the eye is how organised everything is – different zones are labelled up and productions lines all clearly marked with posters. At a glance you can see what is going where and if any particular team is creating a backlog. The different work-steps — from preparing the flowers to loading the trucks are all completed in separate areas and everything is scanned and logged as it moves between them. On a computer screen you can see the location of every bouquet and the orders that will go out with them inside. Having such a simple set-up really helps with communications where many of the team are foreign-language speakers.
There are strict quality control check throughout the process, and you quickly get the sense that the Arena team are fanatical about the quality of their delivered flowers. They have invested thousands in the wrapping technology which keeps the flowers in good condition during transport. The heads are closed for protection but when they arrive in a warm house and are fed the included food they quickly open out in to huge blooms. As a result they now deliver the flowers for many of the major sellers such as Moonpig.
Finally, given such a time-critical delivery, they have more than one courier shipping the flowers. Yodel, DPD, DX and Royal Mail are all lined up for deliveries with trucks parked up next to the production line. The drivers will come and collect full ones and replace them with empties though the night. While I am there, one of couriers calls to confirm the collections schedule throughout the night. Nothing worse than a half-full truck having to leave.
How does your operations compare? Think you could ship as many products in a day?