After disrupting the e-commerce floristry business landscape with an alternative, more agile business model for selling flowers online, Johansson talks to BQ about adapting to change and how SerenataFlowers.com uses global growers and auctions to boast one of the most efficient supply chains in the UK floristry industry.
What is it the company does?
We are one of the UK’s leading e-commerce florists and the 3rd most visited online florist in the world. We use a direct e-commerce business model, that provides customers with a more efficient and cost-effective way to purchase flowers – supplying and delivering more than a million fresh bouquets every year, to customers’ front doors.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As managing director, my role is simply to adapt to change, whether economic challenges or a shift in customer needs. During the recession, we were quick to act on the need for cost consideration and launched a budget range of flowers to deliver what the market needed at that time. Since then, SerenataFlowers.com has operated with a very lean cost structure that still suits our customers today. As new challenges arise to threaten the floristry industry such as Brexit, the weakening pound and changing consumer sentiment, it’s my role to steer the company to adapt and innovate and meet our customers’ changing needs.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I’ve pretty much worked within the retail industry for my whole career. I have more than 15 years’ experience and specialist skills in a breadth of areas spanning SEO, digital strategy, user experience, sales and e-commerce. I joined Serenata Flowers in 2005 as Operational Director. I oversaw the day to day operation of the company, setting up its own delivery fleet for local orders in London, Manchester and Birmingham. After 9 years in this position, I took over as Managing Director.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader is one that can share the vision of the company and engage with the team to ensure everyone feels passionate about reaching the objectives. It is of utmost importance to find strengths in individuals and help them grow within the company. If you build only the best team around you, with only the best people for the job, then empower your team to deliver, trusting their curated and combined skill set. You should also not be afraid of spending time working in all areas of the business to gather a better understanding of the core issues within the company.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Recessions are never good for business - especially if the products are viewed as ‘luxury goods’. Faced with this challenge, I was quick to adapt the business model to ride out the 2008 recession and meet the market needs with a new collection of budget bouquets and very lean cost structure. It’s implementing this cost structure that will stand SerenataFlowers.com in good stead when faced with the next challenge - Brexit.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Every morning before work I go for a swim and sauna. Even if having kids can be stressful at times, there is no better way to forget a bad day at work than spending time with them. However, I find the best way to alleviate stress is free diving.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always been an entrepreneur since a very young age and never really had a dream about any 9-5 jobs.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Waste. It has always been a big bugbear of mine. At Serenata Flowers we use only recycled materials for packaging and collect rain water for the flowers. Any opportunity to be more sustainable and operate in a more eco-friendly way is something I personally look out for. The Serenata Flowers Fairtrade range is grown by certified farms right across the globe and those buying from this range have the satisfaction of directly contributing towards sustainable flower farming and the welfare of the farmers. It is something I feel very proud to be able to support and offer our eco-conscious customers.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
To secure Serenata Flowers’ position as number one flower retailer in the UK, by continually making improvements to the customer journey, increasing retention rates further to become first-choice for UK consumers wishing to buy flowers online – whether for themselves, or as a gift for loved ones.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
The overwhelming learning from Serenata Flowers is how to adapt to changing consumer needs, and how to innovate to remain relevant to the market. Learn how to identify the next bump in the road early, to bring about necessary change. Whether product innovation or simplifying the customer journey to purchase, future-proofing the business model is essential. Serenata Flowers started out as just two small flower shops in central London in 2003. Early on we recognized the consumer shift to online and identified a lucrative e-commerce business opportunity. By mid-2004 we had launched the first version of the website. We’re cutting out the middleman and prevailing over traditional ‘relay’ models of online floristry, which use local florists to fulfil orders, and in my view is destined to fall short due to the many limitations this introduces over pricing, quality control and customer service. This, combined with the constant improvements to the customer experience means the business’ retention rates we deliver are exceptional. Serenata Flowers is now distributing over one million bouquets direct from its flower emporiums to its customers.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Don’t fear change or weak areas of the business, see it as an opportunity and act quickly. Most of the time this leads to an improvement of the business, so embrace it.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement