Now, this is something different. Flower Chimp, a florist in Malaysia, is currently prototyping commercial drone deliveries. The company aims to reinvent and integrate environmentally friendly delivery methods and green technologies into its operations by the end of 2023. Drones are a vehicle category that is undergoing rapid research and development, and massive technological improvements are always on offer with each iteration. “They continue to get sturdier, more weather resistant and capab
capable of carrying several kilograms, which is more than enough to transport the vast majority of our products,” Maximillian Lotz, chief executive officer and co-founder of Flower Chimp, told Inside Retail. He explained that while the pilot was a success, it remains to be seen how the government will regulate drone delivery over the coming months and years. “What matters most is that we create awareness and promote more efficient and environmentally friendly delivery technologies, whether with drones or other greener transport methods,” he said. The year so far “So far, 2022 has been a great year for the brand. Initially we were assuming that post pandemic sales would drop as people return to their lives and spend less time online. However quite the opposite is true,” Lotz noted. People went out of their way to connect with loved ones during the pandemic, by sending flowers and gifts online, and Lotz expects this trend to last, with obvious benefits for Flower Chimp’s growth path in Malaysia and beyond. For the uninitiated, Flower Chimp allows people in Malaysia to send flowers and gifts to their loved ones seven days a week. The company caters to almost every location in Malaysia via its unique fulfilment footprint that took more than six years to establish. “We strive to offer our customers thoughtful gifts for any occasion as well as for any budget – this can be a small token of appreciation for a co-worker or a big romantic gesture for a loved one,” Lotz stated. Going Green Like most companies in the region, the management team at Flower Chimp is committed to reducing their carbon footprint and improving the sustainability of their future operations. “There are two major areas we focus on: making the products that we sell more environmentally friendly and producing less emissions during the last mile delivery,” he explained. Lotz said that the company strives to source products locally and prefers products that degrade more easily to minimise their footprint on the planet. “For last mile delivery, even with traditional transport methods such as cars and motorbikes, we employ AI [artificial intelligence] to improve their routing to minimise CO2 emissions on the way,” he said. The company is also exploring the possibility of employing more electric vehicles for delivery, something that is already commonplace in other parts of the world such as Europe. “It was found for example that electric cargo bikes deliver about 60 per cent faster than vans in city centres,” he shared. Market realities Malaysia, like most other countries in Southeast Asia, is experiencing the brunt of a strong US dollar, and economic headwinds are making supply chain bottlenecks and inflationary pressures more acute. Nonetheless, Flower Chimp seems to be insulated from these external pressures. “We have always found the gifting sector to be fairly recession-proof. Events like Valentine’s Day play a big role in people’s lives, and not sending flowers is simply not an option for most people,” Lotz said. He went on to say that being present in five markets across Southeast Asia makes the company less sensitive to external forces, in the event that any one market starts to trade softer than expected. Flower Chimp is also able to take advantage of Malaysia’s wonderfully unique and diverse market with an abundance of cultural traditions and events. “We don’t know any other country with so many different culturally rooted holidays and therefore gifting occasions – From Hari Raya to Deepavali and Christmas, people in Malaysia certainly don’t lack reasons to send gifts to their loved ones,” he added. Keeping focused From an operational perspective, maintaining an upward trajectory is a huge challenge in a competitive market with over 30 players where price points are critical. “At the end of the day, it comes down to staying hungry. There is always something that we can do to offer better value, a better customer experience or a bigger range to our customers,” Lotz said. According to him, either one of these improvements is usually rewarded with an incremental increase in traction. He feels that e-commerce is still in its early days in Malaysia and beyond, and is confident that as long as Flower Chimp keeps delivering a flawless experience, this upward trajectory will last. Lotz is keen to keep expanding the brand across the region, from Thailand and Vietnam to Taiwan, South Korea and beyond. “Beyond this, we are working to offer a wider selection for our customers across the region to continue to live up to our promise of having the perfect gift for every occasion, for every price point in store for them,” he concluded.