QFC DIGS NEW FLORAL DELIVERY SYSTEM

BELLEVUE, Wash. (FNS) -- Quality Food Centers is planting the seeds for holiday floral orders, by shifting its fulfillment and delivery methods to ensure quality and consistency of its arrangements.Orders, either placed in person at QFC units or telephoned in, are filled at store level. Arrangements are designed, placed in a decorative vase, tied with raffia ribbon and encased within a white floral

BELLEVUE, Wash. (FNS) -- Quality Food Centers is planting the seeds for holiday floral orders, by shifting its fulfillment and delivery methods to ensure quality and consistency of its arrangements.

Orders, either placed in person at QFC units or telephoned in, are filled at store level. Arrangements are designed, placed in a decorative vase, tied with raffia ribbon and encased within a white floral box, similar to the kind a dozen long, stemmed roses would be delivered in. A handwritten gift card is attached at the customer's request.

The order is then prepared for Federal Express next day delivery. This delivery system is utilized whether the order is being sent across town or across the continent.

Care instructions are also enclosed so that the recipient knows to immediately add water to the vase, as none was added prior to shipping. Additional tips are given on how to keep the gift arrangement fresh.

The chain had previously relied on an outside vendor who centrally created and delivered four or five stock arrangements within the Seattle trading area.

"Now that the arrangements are not done centrally, we can create items that our customers will be pleased with," said a floral associate at a North Seattle location. "We do have a book with photos to look through to give us a few ideas for color, style and price. But if there is some special flower or color we can certainly accommodate you."

The shift in order filling and delivery services is QFC's effort to keep up with the changing needs of their customers, the associate said. The arrangements previously offered were of the very traditional form, relying on primarily carnations and chrysanthemums. One rose arrangement was part of the repertoire.

Now the chain offers dozens or arrangements, presenting updated touches and utilizing a full range of floral items available on the world market.

QFC has been promoting its delivery capabilities within its weekly ad circulars. Associates at several QFC locations that SN visited were very familiar with the delivery service, how it worked and what items would best withstand shipment.

Floral departments, at most QFC units, are located at the entrance to the store. As a result department heads are continuously challenged to maintain eye-catching color breaks and provide purchase-driving arrangements.

Since the Seattle area has a moderate climate, the department often spills out through the store entrance where hanging plants, porch and patio items are merchandised. This inside-outside merchandising is further punctuated at the chain's newly opened Renton, Wash., location where a sliding window allows service staff working inside the ability to answer questions and take orders from customers standing outside the store.