Communication is key: How Fig & Bloom defied the odds to scale up in 2020

fig & bloom

Source: Supplied.

For partners Dan Groch and Kellie Brown, launching Fig & Bloom without outside investment meant initially moving slowly — but on their own terms. “We had a few investors come knocking on the door,” Groch says. “In the end we decided that we didn’t want that sort of outside money, we really just wanted to own all of it and see where it ended up.” 

Fig & Bloom launched in 2015, a design-led, premium florist backed by Brown’s keen aesthetics and Groch’s startup experience. By 2017, they were, in Groch’s words, ‘out of the garage’ and ready to lease their own bricks-and-mortar in Melbourne. 

“Within about 18 months of that we had really refined the business model and sorted out our marketing channels and knew how to win customers, and so we started looking to enter the Sydney market,” says Groch. The duo spent the next year and a half living in Sydney, learning how to build a team capable of steering the ship in their absence. Without investment, they’d added two locations to a thriving business.

When the lockdowns hit in early 2020, though, Brown and Groch decided to return to Melbourne.

Setting up for change

For Groch, having a diversified business offering was intrinsic to Fig & Bloom. When the pandemic changed the landscape, it proved to be a wise business strategy. 

“We’ve always tried to keep the business diversified,” Groch says. “There’s always a number of pillars. It’s like building a house, right? The more pillars, the more likely it is to stay upright.” 

The offering included e-commerce, physical retail, events (such as weddings and baby showers) and corporate services. As the face-to-face economy hibernated, Fig & Bloom’s e-commerce business boomed. The service — sending flowers — became a powerful medium to overcome personal absence. 

“The way I look at it, people send flowers because it’s a way to send a message that’s meaningful,” says Groch. “It’s a signalling thing and at least people know that you care and you’re thinking about them. So, of course, being locked down everyone turned to flowers as a way to connect and maintain those relationships with people they cared about.”

E-commerce, tech and the backend

For small businesses keen on scaling, increased demand can be a double-edged sword. Fig & Bloom doesn’t rely on hosting services like Shopify for its e-commerce platform. While it means the business has full control over its data, something as simple as hitting a cap for orders can get left out if sales start to soar.

“[Pre-covid] we were always in control of the level of demand,” says Groch. “Basically, how much product we had to supply each day was a product of us spending on advertising and pulling other marketing levers. Then all of a sudden we’re getting inundated with more orders than we could handle and our website didn’t even have functionality to be able to cap orders and turn people away.”

It forced Groch to adopt some new backend tech for their e-commerce platform, leaving Fig & Bloom ready for future growth.

“We’re able to now set a capacity, sell to that capacity and use multiple means to route which market we’re actually serving,” Groch says.

Payment stability

After some underwhelming experiences with PayPal, settling on a trustworthy payment provider — Pin Payments — for e-commerce has helped with stability across the journey. 

“We added PayPal because some wise e-commerce commentator said there’d been some research done that said that the more payment channels you offer, the greater aggregate conversions you’ll experience,” Groch says. 

After finding consistent issues with payment chargebacks through PayPal, Groch settled on Pin Payments as the sole payment facilitator. There’s been no resulting drop in conversions, while Groch has found Pin Payments service to be very approachable. 

“We’ve always stuck with Pin because whenever we run into an issue we’ve got a direct contact, someone we can get on the phone and actually solve a problem,” says Groch.

2021 is about future proofing your business and learning from the business pivots you’ve made in 2020. There’s no better time to start accepting payments online for your business than today. Pin Payments helps Australian small businesses accept payments everyday. Get started today.

Three keys to successful scaling

For businesses looking to Fig & Bloom as inspiration to scale a business, Groch has a few suggestions.

  1. Lean on others: “I think that sharing your problems is good,” Groch says. “I feel really fortunate that I’m not doing this alone. If you’re trying to grow a business and don’t have somebody that you can share that executive-level load, it’s very difficult.”
  2. Speak the truth: “Be honest with your team, particularly your leadership team” says Groch. “With your executive team you want to be really, brutally honest with them about what the problems are so you can own them together and solve them together. That’s been really helpful to us in really distributing the load.”
  3. Get on top of your data: “We always come back to data and just try and measure everything so we know we’re kind of orienting ourselves correctly and we’re not just making guesses.” For Fig & Bloom, this has been particularly valuable in a period of disrupted supply chains and creeping inflation. “One of the backend technical things we did in the last 12 months is implement a purchasing and inventory control system that captures those inputs so we’re able to adapt and either change recipes, substitute and adopt different materials that are cheaper or move our prices if we have to.”

NOW READ: How to protect your e-commerce business from fraud

pin payments
Pin Payments

Pin Payments is Australia’s first unified approach to payments for small to medium-sized businesses. It supports over 12,000 businesses in Australia and New Zealand to accept payments from debit and credit cards bearing the Visa, MasterCard and American Express brands without requiring a merchant account.

Partner content