How do online flower shops work?
How to purchase flowers on line from a flower shop and know exacly what your getting.
Photo Credit: Natalia Bratslavsky
How online flower shops work is quite simple actually. They have done what so many online businesses have and been successful at it. They advertise that they can deliver flowers for you anywhere in the country fast and inexpensively. For the most part that is true however all these companies are really doing is brokering flowers. For those of you that don't know what this means, I will break it down for you.
Say you want to send your mother flowers for her birthday. She lives in California and you live in New York. You don't have a clue where the best flower shop in California is and you really don't have time to research the local flower industry to find out. What do you do? You go on line to one of the many on-line flower shops and you place an order with them for an arrangement of your liking and have them take care of the rest. You are charged $39.95 for a beautiful flower arrangement that you saw pictures of on their site. Your mom gets her flowers on the day they promised and you're a satisfied customer.
Well not exactly…. If you haven't gone down this road before, here are some things about this industry you should know. First a broker is a sales person that finds goods and services for people. They do not stock an inventory at their location nor do they have a warehouse on the West Coast that does. They will never actually see the product that they are promising you and the picture your seeing of the product you just bought, well lets just say that you will get something close. Also keep in mind that a broker seeks out the lowest bidder when it comes to the actual provider of the service they are looking for. In short, a broker will take the money that he received from you and do his best to beat the cost that he charged you in order to make as much money as he can on the deal. Now if you think about how much you have paid for flowers in past, the only way to really do this effectively is provide less of a product for more money.
I have used the services a couple online flower companies in the past before I actually saw one of the arrangements I ordered. Then one day I walked in my girlfriends home to see a little replica of the flowers I though I was sending her. I was blown away. The picture was very misleading and I was a bit upset about the whole thing for a little while. But, knowing how the business worked I just figured that maybe I ran into a bad deal this time. I used a service again and this time I had the person I sent them to take a digital picture of the arrangement and email it to me. Again, it was not what I was expecting at all. If I were to go to my local shop and purchase $40 worth of flowers in an arrangement, I can honestly tell you, I would get a much nicer and larger arrangement for the money than I did on line.
I'm not saying that they are all bad, or that it's not worth it to use them, but you do need to know what your up against. As I said earlier, they do serve a valuable purpose if you are under the gun and need to get flowers to someone in an unfamiliar town in a hurry. Just keep in mind that as with any business, if your not satisfied with the service you received or the product you were promised, file a complaint. It's the only way to keep them all honest and have a level playing field out there.
So the next time you need flowers in a pinch, at least now you know the basics of online flower shops and how they work.