Difference Between Flower Wholesalers, Distributors, and Retailers

At a wedding, when a bride tosses a bouquet to all single women present there, few guests probably think about wherefrom those beautiful flowers have been bought. Yet an extremely coordinated sequence of events occurs during a short span of time for ensuring that those delicate flowers, professionally arranged at some local florist outlet, remain as fragrant and fresh as the moment they were cut. To understand this, you need to know the difference between different entities involved here, such as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.


Understand the Global Industry

The flower industry runs at a global level. While the United States has growers, a great percent of flowers that are sold in the country are imported. These flowers are produced specifically in Colombia. The warm temperatures in South America make up abundant growth. However, enhancements made in the transport section have given rise to the waning of local growers and dependence on overseas. The two primary entries for these imported blooms are Los Angeles and Miami before they get delivered to various wholesale warehouses.


Time-Critical Chain of Supply

The supply chain of flowers is a time-critical one. As you know how delicate flowers are, it is important to handle them with care and deliver them on time. In this chain supply, wholesaler florists take orders from various local florists for all flower types and different florist accessories like foam, containers, and ribbons.

After that, wholesalers work with their foreign and domestic growers to deliver those orders in time. As flowers have a limited shelf life, it becomes highly critical that they get shipped speedily and carefully. When these imported flowers reach the United States, refrigerated containers are being used for shipping those flowers to wholesalers so that they can repack before finally delivering them to different retailers.


Wholesale Division

In the wholesale flower division, the businesses supply traditional wholesalers. These wholesalers have a variety of flower options at all times of the year. This needs flower procurement from places growing diverse flowers. It has been projected that around two-thirds of the flowers on the flower industry are entrusted to wholesalers. The traditional wholesalers fulfill a range of functions for retail florist customers, such as brokering, product sourcing, and handling, giving product details, and act as a credit source.


Retail Division

In the retail division, flowers are being delivered across a range of outlets, like garden centers, market vendors, traditional florists, street vendors, and supermarkets. The way in which these retail divisions communicate with consumers is pretty different from the way wholesalers do.

Over the last decade, supermarkets that offer flowers have increased in number and in various countries, these markets are setting a trend. Also, chain-stores have particular requirements in terms of service, assortment, and other such issues. 

The benefits that these groups enjoy is quite clear from this supply chain map. This needs massive cooperation among separate entities for carrying out smooth operation throughout the year. Also, input suppliers include suppliers who deliver accessories to these primary flower suppliers.


Basic Structure of the Floral Industry

Getting flowers from growers to purchase by a customer involves a supply chain. The industry of flowers follows a basic structure, where three different branches are involved. These branches are wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Here, distributors are in direct contact with growers for prospective buyers of flowers. Wholesalers purchase flowers in large quantities from these distributors. Next, retailers purchase flowers in small quantities from a wholesaler or sometimes directly from a distributor.

So, growers grow beautiful flowers, distributors act as middlemen between growers and wholesalers, and then retailers are the ones having local flower outlets. All of these branches are often intermingled. This is because sometimes, retailers grow their own flowers in greenhouses and sell them directly in the market. Thus, they themselves become a grower, wholesaler, seller. And other times, big label companies sell a large number of flowers and thus, they order flowers directly from distributors without involving any middleman.

When florists give an order to a wholesaler or a grower, it takes various routes to a consumer depending on the flower type, grown area, and the condition in which they are being sold. Some floriculturists cut and pack flowers at a nursery and send them to the consumer directly. Furthermore, some flowers are sent to a packing company to grade and organize them into a bunch. After that, these flowers are sent to supermarkets or flower shops.

Also, some growers grade and sleeve these flowers themselves before selling them to a wholesaler. Then, the wholesaler delivers these flowers to florists who accessorize and organize these beautiful flowers for their customers. Not just that, but even consumers can buy directly from wholesalers if they know where they have to go.


Growing Online Trade

In the floral industry, new developments have changed the way you do this business. Pre-auction sales, online shops, and distance buying are turning more important. So, wholesalers and retailers need to be kept these developments in mind by learning about the technical aspects and possibilities.

In addition, they have to invest in the required software and changes in the business processes if they think about making online trading a part of their marketing strategy. Supermarkets and chain stores can purchase directly from growers. The internet allows consumers to do the same by omitting wholesalers from this supply chain.



So, this is the difference between flower wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Growers grow flowers, where distributors procure them. After that, distributors supply these flowers to diverse wholesalers and then, wholesalers contact retailers before they eventually reach sellers.

All of these sources are intermingled as retailers could be wholesalers and growers too. This looks like a simple chain supply, except the fact that the units involved in this industry come from over the world. The majority of beautiful flowers come from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. The consumer base turns out to be North America, Western Europe, and Japan. However, the biggest trade center of these flowers is the Netherlands.


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