Saturday, February 5, 2011

Digital Feeds The Floral Bloom

As we close in on the last few days to get those dozen red roses ordered for that special person in your life, it's worth noting that the digital era helped propel the floral industry to new heights. When the Internet propelled the establishment of an interconnected network of florists, same day deliveries and floral arrangement product consistency made ordering flowers simple and efficient. While local retail florists deliver fulfillment of orders, it's their membership in national digital networks like FTD, Teleflora and 1-800-Flowers that keeps their storefronts competitive. FTD was one of the first to realize consumers know no geographical boundaries when expressing their love, care or sympathy for their family and friends. So they quickly realized that by developing standardized "products" or floral arrangement packages, electronic ordering would be simplified. Of course, these networks never intended to hire anyone to wrap bouquets or prune stems. And therein lies the basis of how these digital networks turned a local cottage industry into a $33 billion U.S. business. The "wire service" florist networks maintain robust e-commerce operations, manage electronic payments and match customer orders with member retailers who can fulfill specific orders. These Rainmakers keep a 7 percent commission on every order and enjoy a base  subscription of about $300 per month. So instead of paying hundreds of local florists to fill their distance orders, retail florists become members of digital networks like 1-800-Flowers' BloomNet and let the networks pay the individual florists who actually arrange and deliver the flowers. The sending florist, or order originator, keeps 20 percent of the order total just for initiating order, while the network pays the filling florist 73 percent of the transaction. The networks also provide guidance to retailers on pricing, arrangement formats and type of vase or container to use. These digital floral networks have made ordering flowers as easy as completing a couple of clicks on a website. What are you waiting for ? 

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