Bloom & Wild has built its success on four pillars - and staying true to them as they grow is helping the brand flourish.
Growing a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand from a tiny seed to a flourishing business is no small feat. Bloom & Wild is the flowers and gifting company that’s recently secured £75 million in Series D funding.
CEO and Founder of the company Aron Gelbard gave us the low-down on the importance of building D2C businesses on strong foundations.
You’ve experienced amazing growth and are leading the way for the D2C business model. If you had to map out a few core choices for early-stage D2C businesses, what would they be?
“We tried to define a few pillars on which we would look to build our company at the beginning and we’ve really stuck to those. Those pillars are supply chain, technology, physical product and proposition. And I think we figured out early on that we needed to be advantaged and differentiated across all of those.
“In our case, supply chain innovation meant developing a shorter, less expensive, more sustainable approach. For technology, it meant investing in bespoke technology in a way that others in our category didn’t. Proposition initially meant letterbox flowers but I think now it means something much broader than that as we expand into more categories including hand-tied bouquets, plants and Christmas trees, for example.
“We really embraced those pillars and looked to use those to build advantage. And then from that advantage, we were well-positioned to raise money. We continue to get better at those things. And those things are probably a sensible starting point for most D2C businesses.”
What are the D2C businesses that inspire you and what makes them stand up against those that don’t perform as well?
“Two later stage businesses that I’ve looked at a lot are Graze and Gousto. With Graze, I guess my inspiration for letterbox came from them. I think also just the innovativeness of the product within the category has been super interesting. And the way that they’ve embraced data and technology in a bespoke fashion has been really interesting too.
“With Gousto, I think we’ve learned more about operations and building out of supply at a greater scale. They’ve become increasingly focused on sustainability and impact and that has been really inspiring. Our own sustainability commitments have benefitted from that inspiration.”
And could you pick out one or two earlier stage D2C brands that you think are doing something wild or new or exciting?
“I’d say one early-stage business that I really admire and think is doing really well is Motley, a jewellery brand. They’re actually building a business that feels like a hybrid between D2C and platform in a really interesting way. So, on the one hand, they’re a D2C jewellery business. On the other hand, part of their mission is to be a way that jewellery designers can be discovered and grow.
“It’s more sustainable for the designers than trying to start out on their own because it’s hard to finance your cost of production or designing for some other large retailer where you make a terrible margin and you have no creative freedom. And I think that Motley’s embracing of mission within a D2C context is really interesting and something that we can all consider as we think about building innovation into our businesses.”
What are some of the pitfalls or classic mistakes you see D2C companies make?
“Well, there’s quite a few; discipline on unit economics, raising as much as you can, spending it as quickly as possible, not thinking about the right level to spend for different types of activity and the return that you get on that investment.
“Overlooking ROI seems to be the single biggest one. People will have a £100 cost-per-click on Facebook and they know that the margin is £10 and that the customer probably isn’t going to repeat and that’s just never going to make sense. D2C businesses are certainly going to destroy value doing that.”
Could you share one piece of advice for businesses starting out on their D2C adventure right now?
“Just embrace it and dive in. This is a unique time for D2C and ecommerce. People’s shopping habits have changed and I expect much of that change to be permanent. While some of us will return to buying as little as possible online as soon as we can, many of us have become so accustomed to using the internet that the market opportunity is therefore so much bigger.
“I think there’s space for people to innovate in more categories. Categories that might not have been either big enough or mature enough to support D2C innovation in the past can now support new, innovative businesses. It’s the best possible time to try and be creative and see if you gain traction.”