UrbanStems CEO Seth Goldman makes flower delivery possible

It may seem simple to order a bouquet of flowers and have it delivered to your home, but such a task requires a lot of work.

In this week’s Modern Retail podcast, Seth Goldman, CEO of online flower and plant delivery service UrbanStems, discussed the ins and outs of the online florist business.

Over the past two years, UrbanStems has seen year-over-year growth in 2020 and 2021 – even after the company shut down local delivery services in March 2020, resulting in a 60% decline. % of its activity at that time. But when things reopened in July, the business was back on track and “revenue growth continued to pick up,” Goldman said. Indeed, sales have increased by 130% in 2021.

Now, with those two years in the rearview mirror, Goldman says it’s figuring out which parts of the business to invest in. mentioned.

Venture capital contributes to this. Last year, Urban Stems raised $20 million, giving it a valuation north of $100 million. This year, Goldman is trying to continue to figure out how best to use that money.

One of its goals is to build the infrastructure that allows the company to deliver its flowers. Meanwhile, Goldman is also investing in technology and user experience. Finally, the company is also investing in its team and increasing its workforce.

Goldman talked about all of these aspects of the business – infrastructure, technology and talent – ​​and how he sees prioritization. “There is a lot of work to continue to be done in all three,” he said.

Here are some highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

How UrbanStems works
“A lot of our flowers come from South America, mainly Ecuador and Colombia. These are the two largest flower-growing regions. They arrive in Miami, which is the largest port of entry into the United States. We then distribute them from Miami to our largest facility in Maryland and then across the country to other facilities. And, from there, we’re redistributing this product in New York and DC – so you can tell how easy it is so far. And, from there, an order that you place on the website, for example, right now today in New York, will go from our dark store – which you’ve heard of in other industries, you don’t can’t get in there. Our amazing team is ready to receive your order, place your bouquet in our very elegant box and zip it by courier to your loved one or friend or other recipient you wanted to make their day today.

Goldman’s three focus areas
“Our last round of funding, the investments are really going into the team, the infrastructure and the technology – some of it into the marketing as well. But when we talk about the team, we’ve seen a lot of roles that are going to help us deliver a better customer experience, both digitally and physically Infrastructure, we are able to invest more in our factory in Maryland and look at other facilities that can help us grow, become more profitable, offer more options to our customers when they shop with us. And then, on the technology side, we – like many companies similar to us from a distribution or e-commerce perspective – really saw the opportunity to create technologies and tools to improve the customer experience, less friction filled – and the same for our employees, so there is a lot of work to be done in all three areas.

Floral technology still has a long way to go
“I’ve seen robots making bouquets, I don’t think it’s quite there yet. There is automation you can put in warehouses. We are looking at that. Otherwise just data so we can track how people are doing and where people might be struggling in a warehouse environment. But we also want to make sure that we really maintain our cold chain throughout. Just like a vegetable you leave on your counter rather than keep it in your fridge—you know it’ll last longer if you keep it in your fridge—flowers are no exception. They want to be perfectly preserved in 34 to 36 degrees. The more we can do to track and maintain this, the longer they will last – both with us, but, more importantly, with the end consumer. There’s also some really cool cutting-edge technology coming out that we’re still reviewing. We’ve found things like micro-perforation machines that laser punch holes to allow the bouquet to sit in its own little atmospheric environment that [allow it] to last longer. These are still in their infancy. »

The flowers have lost their fragrance
“Something I’m going to tell you that’s going to crush you a little. Most of the flowers actually had the smell coming out of them. Because the smell is the release of gas and the gas kills the flowers. There are some strains we use that still have that lovely sweet floral smell, and I would like to use more of them. But we want the flowers to live and live longer. So it’s something that crushed me a bit when I found out.

Terisa K. Carn