Weight-Out In The Flower Business
Weight-out belongs in the same general bag of pricing tricks as de-sheeting and slack fill. The idea is to effectively, and stealthily, raise prices by decreasing the amount of product contained in the standard package. "Weight-out" means just that – taking weight out of the package, and drawing as little attention to it as possible.
Here is an example. For many, many years a large supermarket chain has sold packages of frozen shrimp in one pound (454 gram) bags.
When it comes to increase the price they can opt for either a visible change, where the price on the sticker goes up, or a stealth change – one where the sticker price stays the same and they take weight out of the package.
In this case they chose the stealth weight-out route, reducing the contents of their standardized package to 14 ounces.
By keeping the price per package the same this translates into an effective price increase of over twelve percent, and increase many consumers are unlikely to even notice.
Weight-out is a useful tool for many vendors but in the flower business it presents some unique challenges. Sometimes it is very easy to do but should be avoided, and in other cases it is almost impossible to do.
When De-Weighting Is Easy Try To Avoid It
It is very easy to make a weight-out type price increase on fill-to-value orders. In fact most florists probably do it automatically. If a customer orders a $50 arrangement every year and the florist pays attention to their costs/pricing it means that the order will get de-weighted a little each time. Very easy and very intuitive to do.
It's also a bad idea. Each year the arrangement will get a little smaller, and each year the customer and the recipient will be a little less impressed. This is why florists need to be good at selling – if a customer spends $50 one year they should be encouraged to spend a little more the next.
Floral POS systems encourage bad habits in this area. One of the great things about POS software for florists is that it keeps track of spending and reminds you of the customers comfort zone. If the point-of-sale system in your flower shop says the customer spent $50 on their last anniversary it's very easy, and tempting, to ask them if they want to spend the same amount again.
The restaurant where they go for dinner won't do that – they aren't going to offer the same prices year after year. Small increases, appropriate to rising costs, are going to be built in.
This is where you need to show some guidance and suggest a small increase, otherwise the customer will effectively get less each year and become increasingly dissatisfied. Meanwhile your revenue remains flat, until such time as the customers gets fed up with the smaller arrangements and leaves you for another shop.
When De-Weighting Is Harder It Can Make More Sense
A big part of the retail flower business is roses by the dozen, and here de-weighting is almost impossible. If you try and put ten roses into a package you call a dozen it will be noticed!
Some florists try and get around this by taking the word "dozen" out of the equation. At Valentine's Day they might instead promote something like a "Hand-Tied Rose Bouquet" that contains ten roses instead of twelve.
It is an interesting approach, but it can backfire. When it comes to roses the pack size of one dozen is so ubiquitous it is almost assumed. If you ship ten the recipient, usually unaware of what was actually ordered, may think they were shorted two roses. This can lead to an awkward call to the shop or discussion with the sender about the "mistake".
Another approach is to try and move the other way, by focussing on larger pack sizes. Someone might be upset about receiving less than twelve roses, but they are unlikely to be upset about receiving more. And by offering unusual pack sizes it makes side-by-side comparison more difficult, which is usually a good thing.
So for example a florist might focus on selling "super-dozen" (maybe fifteen or sixteen roses) and "mega-dozen" (twenty roses) at prices similar to their dozen-and-a-half and two-dozen prices. Here expectations are a little fuzzier, and as long as you are clear with the customer (if asked) the recipient is less likely to take notice.