How This Flowers And Gifts Brand Became A $27M/Year Business
We’re an online flower and gift delivery service that provides same-day delivery 7 days a week across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide, plus next-day delivery Australia-wide.
Ultimately, we exist to make people’s day. LVLY is all about spreading a bit more joy in the world and helping keep loved ones connected in moments of love, support, and celebration. We have a strong social and environmental conscience and we’re led by three core business principles - LVLY to people, LVLY to Australia, and LVLY to our planet.
Our flagship product is flowers. But in particular, flowers delivered FAST. We’ve seen strong growth in our gifting range, but the core of our business remains flower at this stage. We’ve innovated our packaging and personalization options and increasingly, we’re seeing more customers opt for personalized and customized flower and gift bundles.
Our key purpose is to spread joy. We do this by fixing forgotten birthdays, helping celebrate happy moments, sending last-minute thank you's, and making people’s day.
In May 2022, LVLY was acquired by Southeast Asia-based Limitless Technology. Together, the combined entities will form one of APAC’s leading online flower retailers. Limitless Technology has a growing portfolio of purpose-led direct-to-consumer brands across categories, including flowers & gifting (flowerchimp.com, bloomeroo.com.au), confectionery (cakerush.my), and fashion (themodestbrand.co). The business is underpinned by a vertically integrated operating model with market-leading same-day logistics, in-house marketing capabilities, and a proprietary tech platform.
LVLY has recently been ranked in the AFR Fast 100, Deloitte Tech Fast 50, and Inside Retail 20 Coolest Retailers.
Our revenue from 2020 to 2022, grew from $2.2M to $27.1M an increase of more than 12.3x over that period.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
We spent about 15 years working in the advertising industry before launching LVLY. I grew up in the UK, and my dream was always to start a business and build a brand. Verity grew up in Melbourne and also had the desire to do her own thing one day.
Our paths crossed while working at a digital agency in Sydney called Visual Jazz. We were both living away from home, missing friends and family, and saw a gap in the market to send affordable flowers and gifts that weren’t the traditional red rose and fluffy white bear cliché.
The dream was to create a brand people would love and a business that would reset the goalposts for what excellent e-commerce looks like. All whilst doing a bit of good in the world and making people happy.
We had the name before we had anything else! LVLY existed as a brand idea before we knew what product or service was going to underpin it. I’d pitched the brand ‘LVLY’ as an idea to someone else, I’d bought the URL, created the tone of voice guidelines, and had a visual identity in mind but thankfully, the person I was pitching to didn’t buy it! Their loss was eventually our gain!
When Verity and I spotted the opportunity to disrupt the flower industry, the name LVLY was such an obvious and effortless choice. We’ve stayed true to our purpose and vision to make people’s day and having such a strong brand identity from day one has helped us stand out from the crowd.
We’ve started every year with clear goals and a set of strategic growth initiatives designed to help hit those goals. We tackle growth from all angles, geographical expansion, improving market share, new product development, new service offerings, conversion rate optimization, customer retention… the list goes on.
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
We developed a packaging prototype that would keep flowers alive, safe, and undamaged in transit for up to five days, even though we only need a maximum of 24 hours door-to-door. We ran a trial with customers across Australia and got a 100% success rate.
It means we've been able to scale quickly. If you look at the traditional flower delivery businesses, they operate on an order-gatherer model, which means they have a network of thousands of florists across Australia, which they pass orders onto and take a commission on the way through. It means customers don't know who they're buying from. In contrast, we own the customer experience end to end; we source, arrange and dispatch every flower arrangement our customers buy.
It’s a pretty classic story of the test, fails, learns, pivot, repeat.
We always had a product blueprint, and we knew we were fundamentally a flower business, but I think the critical thing is that we’ve always understood that our product is as much about the delivery proposition, customer service, and tech as it is flowers.
It’s only when you care deeply about being the best in the world at all of these things that you’ll build a great e-commerce business. We always had the vision to expand from flowers into gifting, and building out a portfolio of LVLY-branded products was a milestone we ticked off quite early.
Supporting local is something we’ve focused on and stayed true to throughout the journey, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see our suppliers thrive and scale alongside us as our business has grown so rapidly. To see that impact is a pretty huge feel-good factor.
One of the big lessons we took from our advertising careers was the importance of building a great culture. We paid a lot of attention to defining our company values and we live and breathe them:
- Make someone’s day – it’s why we exist
- One team, one dream – individually, we’re brilliant, together we’re unstoppable
- Work hungry, hustle hard – bring your passion to the table
- Own your impact – let your strengths shine and make your hours count
- Be a goodie – treat customers, colleagues, and suppliers how you’d like to be treated
Describe the process of launching the business.
We did a soft launch initially because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could make the same-day delivery thing work. Seven years ago we couldn’t find a courier who’d commit to delivering same-day, so we had to do it all ourselves.
We introduced LVLY to the world via social media channels and through word-of-mouth from friends and family. It gave us enough orders to road test our business but not so many orders that the wheels fell off!
About two months in, we got covered by Broadsheet and The Urban List and that kickstarted things. Not long after, the brand's Thankyou and Uber approached us for collaborations, which drove even more momentum. It wasn’t until about two years in that we spent our first dollar on advertising.
In the beginning, it was pretty simple stuff like registering the URL, trademarking the name, and securing our social handles. We built a website using Squarespace, did a product photoshoot, and then pushed it all live to see what happened. Oh and importantly we both did a posy making course because neither of us had any previous experience with flowers!
We were very hands-on and did everything ourselves, our website and product range was the epitome of a minimum viable product but it got us started. Looking back, we had no idea what we were doing! We’ve learned a bit since then.
We bootstrapped it ourselves, which meant using personal savings and borrowing from family. We’ve done a great deal with a small-ish budget which, in hindsight, has been a positive thing. It means we’ve stayed close to the numbers, scrutinized every dollar, and made our investment work hard.
We’ve started every year with clear goals and a set of strategic growth initiatives designed to help hit those goals. We tackle growth from all angles, geographical expansion, improving market share, new product development, new service offerings, conversion rate optimization, customer retention… the list goes on. You name it, we’ve got a goal against it, and we’re measuring our performance every step of the way. We’ve pushed aggressively into the same-day delivery space, we’ve re-set the bar for ourselves again and again.
Our current offering is ‘order by 5 pm for same day delivery, 7 days a week’ - it’s market-leading and we’re proud of that. Put simply, our growth strategy is to be the best in the industry. We’re relentless in our drive to win.
It’s only when you care deeply about being the best in the world at the product, delivery proposition, customer service, and tech, that you’ll build a great e-commerce business.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I think there are lots of reasons we cut through, but the big three would be relevancy, flexibility, and exceptional customer service. We’ve created a playful brand and on-trend product range that’s relevant to our customers.
We have the most flexible delivery proposition in the market - we offer same-day delivery, 7 days a week and customers can order right up to 5 pm to get flowers delivered same-day. No one else provides customers with this flexibility. And we benchmark ourselves on providing world-class customer service. We’re completely customer-centric.
Unboxing is an important part of receiving any LVLY gift in the mail; it all starts with our iconic ‘someone thinks you’re awesome’ box, and now we’ve expanded our gifting range from locally sourced flowers to artisan treats, books, yoga cards, puzzles that celebrate diverse women and being able to gift a vibrator too. At LVLY we’re constantly innovating to stay relevant to our customers.
In 2022, we re-platformed our website, providing us with greater flexibility to ensure we keep delivering great quality local products and enhance our market-leading same-day delivery proposition.
Over the last 12 months, improving the customer experience has been fundamental for our business. We exist to make people happy, to be the sunshine in people’s day, and to connect loved ones who can’t be together. So naturally, that flows into all parts of the business.
As a result of our customers wanting more choice, more gifting options, and more LVLY, we launched 43 new gift bundles, 30 new add-ons, 6 new flower products, and 4 new categories this year, bringing our total range to over 150+ gifts to choose from.
The new range was from direct feedback gathered over customer surveys, emails, and verbal suggestions to improve our customer offering and overall experience to provide a wider offering across a range of new categories.
Improving our delivery offering goes without saying - at LVLY we’re constantly innovating to stay relevant to our customers and to be the best in our category. This year we extended our delivery cut-off times in our regional areas from 10.30 am cut-off to 2.00 pm cut-off and expanded our postcode offering to deliver to over 9.500 suburbs Australia-wide.
One of our most important measures of success is by delivering on our 100% happiness guarantee. We have more than 1200+ positive Google Reviews, a 68% increase on last year, with a 4.7 out of 5-star rating - something we work incredibly hard at. Customer Service is the heart and soul of our business - not just a department.
Our Net Promoter Score is the highest it has ever been at 87, with more 5-star reviews than our competitors in the flower and gifting same-day delivery category.
Our EDM purpose is simple - every email should leave you inspired or smiling. Our tone of voice isn’t ever ‘sales-y’ - we shape them around helping out the customer.
- Email Marketing - In 2022, we sent 18.6K marketing emails to our database of over 252K subscribers, representing $2.4M in revenue, a 252% increase from the previous year. Our average open rate was 30%, up 27% from the previous year.
- Affiliate Marketing - Our affiliate campaigns drove over 19,300 conversions, represented $2M in revenue, and nearly 12% of overall revenue for the business.
- Paid Social - Our paid social campaigns across our major seasonal events; Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day drove nearly 1000 conversions with a reach of 438,716 and revenue of over $106K.
- Organic Social - We also heavily ramped up our video content with 60 Reels this year, and collaborated with an International Poet, First Nations artist, and were posted by the likes of Delta Goodrem (641k followers) & Anna Paul on TikTok (5.9M followers). Our Sage & Clare collaborative giveaway was our most successful this year with over 2.400 entries and 350+ followers gained.
Paid Social creative:
Organic Social feed:
- How LVLY Achieved 500% YoY Growth
- Father's Day Gifts: Spoil Your Dad With These 15 Australian Made Gifts
- Nothing Says ‘Thinking of You’ Like Sending a Sex Toy Gift Package
- Nine Honey - Affordable gift ideas to send in lockdown
- Fabulous gift and booze delivery services to use in Sydney
Edm Campaign creative:
Remember that there’s no such thing as an overnight success story – building a successful business will be way harder than you thought but infinitely more rewarding than you ever dreamed possible.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
What started as building a brand that people would love has evolved into a fast growing e-commerce business that has disrupted the Australian flower category and set new standards for same-day delivery. Thanks to our market-leading ‘7 day, same-day delivery’ proposition, we’re proud to be a trailblazer in the e-commerce and logistics space.
Our revenue from FY 2020 - FY 2022, grew from $2.2M to $27.1M an increase of more than 12.3x over that period. In 2022, we had 1.2M new users visit our site. Our online conversion rate is on average between 8-9%, whereas the industry average is 2%.
Our email subscriber database grew to 250,000 subscribers and our social media following across Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok grew to over 70,000.
In 2022, LVLY launched in Malaysia and Singapore, offering same-day delivery, 7 days a week. The launch marks a significant milestone in LVLY history - it's the first ever time the brand has expanded internationally.
Taking the brand overseas is the fourth major growth initiative launched in the same year, following the successful rollout of single stem flowers, extending our product range, expanding our Sydney warehouse into space that was four times larger, and recently launching in Perth. LVLY proudly delivers to over 9,500 suburbs across Australia.
Collaborations are at the heart of what we do, since our inception, we have partnered with international artists, authors, painters, and poets including Thank You, Beau Taplin, and Rachel Sarra to name a few.
Mental health has become a trigger for gifting - people wanting to check in on each other's well-being.‘Just because’ gifting has grown as a category as opposed to waiting for a special occasion. When you can’t physically be there for each other, LVLY is there to help connect people. Our same-day delivery proposition means people can rely on us as a household name, a brand they can trust to make someone’s day.
Lastly, we’ve been overwhelmed by customers' response to the Thoughtful Marketing Movement, which aims to change the culture around brand communications and to elevate empathy as a key consideration in how they talk to their customers. We gave people the option to opt out of Mother’s and Father’s Day emails. It felt important to acknowledge the potentially damaging effects of sending out “Don’t forget mum/dad” style messages to people who may have an estranged relationship with or lost a mother, father, or child.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
There have been so many, honestly, and each one has helped us to level up as a business.
There is one that remains front of mind, it was Valentine’s day in 2020. It’s a huge calendar event in any flower and gift business and an opportunity to deliver on high volumes, gain new customers and scale up operationally for some big outcomes. We had done lots of prep, analyzing numbers and trends from the previous year but ultimately we got lots of small things wrong and ended up having to sell out before 8 am on Valentine’s Day. Whilst this may seem like a good problem to have, when you’re trying to build and scale your business it feels like a massive failure - leaving so much opportunity on the table.
Around the same time, our landlord drastically increased rent, Australia was reeling from the bushfires and retail was soft - it was a perfect storm that left us with about 6 weeks' worth of cash in the business. Fast forward nearly two years and we’re a completely different business. It just goes to show how it’s possible to bounce back from a big failure if you are persistent and hungry to succeed.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We recently completed a full site migration to Shopify, coming from a very limiting WordPress site. This has been a huge project and one we are incredibly proud of, it’s been on our wishlist for over 3 years, but with our growth over the pandemic we had to hold off. Instantly we saw a positive uplift in our conversion rate and had great feedback from our returning customers.
We are still in our early stages and have yet to unlock the full potential of Shopify apps, but at the moment we are using Orderly for our email templates to add some brand and personality to our customer communications. We use Advanced Customer Reports for a detailed look into our sales and trends. We have several different delivery prices based on your chosen postcode, so Parcelify: Shipping rates are used. We link directly to DEAR Inventory for full visibility of our stock in real-time.
Other notable apps are Bestsellers reSort for our collection pages and of course Matrixify app which is used to manage store data and do bulk importing and exporting, especially helpful when launching 150+ new products to the website!
We couldn’t operate as a business without our many Trello boards, we’re fast-paced and our team works all over Australia so it’s a fantastic tool for project management, productivity, and visibility. We use Front app to manage our customer communications and help us deliver our world-class customer service.
We have warehouses and offices across Australia, as well as a remote workforce, so Slack is helpful for internal dialogue and informal communication amongst our team.
- Klaviyo - for detailed customer segmenting, email marketing, flows such as abandoned cart and SMS
- Later - for scheduling Instagram and Facebook posts
- Linktree - categorization of links for social media
- Canva, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator for graphic design
- InShot - video editing
- Impact - affiliate marketing platform
- Google Analytics - to analyze all data
- Facebook Business Manager - paid social
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Vez: I’ve got two that I’ve been enjoying lately: ‘Lemonade’ which is all about people’s hardest times and how they overcame them (turning lemons into lemonade). It’s inspiring to hear how resilient people can be, a good reminder to never give up. Also, ‘Armchair expert’ is a goodie. I also love a poddie that makes me laugh like ‘We don’t have time for this’ or good ol’ ‘Hamish and Andy’.
Han: Despite everything that’s out there, I still think some of the best digital content I’ve ever come across is Ted Talks. The caliber of advice and leadership is just outstanding, I never fail to get fired up and impassioned when I watch talks like ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ by Brene Brown or ‘The Three Secrets of Resilient People’ by Lucy Hone.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Start with a clear purpose. Make sure you’re solving a problem that you’re passionate about. Surround yourself with smart, honest, and positive people. Have a healthy dose of competitiveness because if you’re not determined to win, you won’t.
And remember that there’s no such thing as an overnight success story – building a successful business will be way harder than you thought but infinitely more rewarding than you ever dreamed possible.
‘Progress over perfection’ is a sentence we use a lot within our team. Momentum is key for any small business, so your team needs to understand this mentality. We’ve worked hard to create a culture where everyone feels like they can just have a go, make mistakes and keep moving forward. It’s too easy to get stuck in the cycle of paralysis by analysis and never makes decisions.
Emotional agility skills can prepare you to just keep progressing, making mistakes, pivoting, and encouraging others in your team to do the same. You’d be amazed at how much positive momentum you can build with a mindset like this.
Where can we go to learn more?
All of the usual places… our website, Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. We’ve also been interviewed for a few podcasts - Lady Brains, Queen of Confidence, Add to Cart, Tell Us Your Story, The Female Founders Network, and Mamamia’s Lady StartUp Stories.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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