Buying Flowers

Order Gathering in Floral Retail Sucks – How To Avoid It

Something called order gathering can really take the fun out of sending and receiving flowers. This is how it happens and how you can avoid it.

When you order flowers you take a risk – the risk that you fall prey to something called order gathering. This starts with a business that can't really fill your order (because they aren't really a florist, or because they are too far away from the recipient) trying to convince you otherwise.

They'll show you a great website, with great photography of beautiful flowers, and promise that is what you will receive. And of course they'll happily take your money.

Now they have a problem – they need somebody to actually prepare and deliver those flowers. But order gathering only makes sense if the order gatherer, the company that just took your order, gets to keep a big percentage of what you paid them.

So they start contacting real local florists that are near the recipient and seeing how cheaply they can get something, anything, delivered to the recipient.

They don't disclose what the customer paid, they don't want the filling florist to know. Instead they explain that they only got a little money, and ask what can be delivered in return. The emphasis is not on what you were promised and paid for, it's on finding the cheapest possible alternative.

The real florist, the one that does all the work, doesn't make any money. You don't get what you paid for. The recipient doesn't get what you intended. The only party that benefits is the order-gatherer, who did nothing but get in the middle and trick you from ordering from them. They didn't add any value, but they typically skim at least 30% of the total order value.

Order gathering in the flower business absolutely sucks. The good news is that it is easy to avoid. Follow these simple steps to make sure that you deal with a real local florist.

It's worth it. Research, and anecdotal experience prove that flowers really are the best gift in almost any situation.

In Lieu of Flowers: Bad Advice With An Ulterior Motive

The phrase "in lieu of flowers" is a little more calculating, and the reality of a funeral without flowers a little more bleak, than you might think.

At one point it was common to see the phrase "In lieu of flowers", followed by a request for donations to a specific charity, in obituary notices. How is that flowers, a traditional and beloved part of the funeral process, were being slighted in this way?

It starts with well-compensated (hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in annual salary) fundraising professionals looking for new sources of revenue reaching out to funeral directors. Funeral directors help bereaved families with all aspects of the funeral, including the wording of obituary notices, and the fundraisers coached them to encourage the use of the phrase "in lieu of flowers".

Why would funeral directors agree to that when everybody knows that flowers are a traditional and vital part of a funeral service? That's where it gets interesting.

A lot of funeral directors really don't like flowers that much. They have to move them around, and sympathy flowers are generally big, heavy but also fragile. They splash water when moved, and need to be watered a couple of times a day. They can drop leaves and petals on the floor. They are, unfortunately, a nuisance for the funeral home to deal with.

That made funeral directors receptive.... by just adding the term "In lieu of flowers" to obituary notices they could do away with the aggravation of flowers.

The problem is that a funeral service without flowers doesn't really work. As one funeral director said in a recent survey:

"A funeral without flowers is a big step towards no funeral at all."

That same survey shows something really interesting. Nuisance or not the vast majority of funeral directors now believe that flowers are a very important part of the funeral process – providing comfort, warmth and beauty to the bereaved. In fact the survey also showed that flowers and plants provide the most non-human comfort.

Flowers are so important to the funeral ceremony that almost all funeral directors now encourage them. Flowers might involve a little more work, but they are clearly worth it.

Finding A Real Local Florist

I frequently get calls from friends and family looking to purchase flowers. There are a lot of people that don't buy flowers very often, and even people that do aren't always sure about the best way to go about it, and they'll often ask me for advice.

The advice is pretty much always the same… yes, flowers are the perfect gift for almost anybody. I also encourage people to give them when they aren't expected – wives and girlfriends might expect flowers on Valentine's Day, birthdays and anniversaries, but it's great to surprise them on any one of the other 362 days of the year. Same thing with moms – don't wait for Mother's Day. And any of those "what can I bring?" situations like a party or dinner... try taking flowers. They will always be a hit and are a nice change from another bottle of wine.

The who/how/where to buy part is always a little trickier. Don't get me wrong – if you talk to a real local florist you will be fine. I work with florists and they are generally wonderful, honest and caring people. They truly love flowers and they want you to love them too – they will work very hard to make sure that you and the recipient are both thrilled with your purchase.

But sometimes what we call "order-gatherers" get in the way. These are not florists, they just pretend to be. They'll have websites, yellow pages ads and phone book listings all intended to convince you they are real local florists, but they don't have coolers or flowers or florists or delivery vans. All they really have is a website, a call center, and a knack for tricking consumers.

Their goal is to get you to place your flower order with them. They then call a real local florist and try and get them to fill the order for them. The problem is the money that you paid – the order gatherer tries to keep a big chunk of it. Often as much as half.

That means that the local florist who will actually prepare and deliver your flowers gets just a small part of the money that you intended to go to the people that actually prepare and deliver your flowers.

How does the order gatherer get away with it? There are a couple of different ways. First they'll usually charge you a service fee that doesn't get passed along to the real florist. It's really their charge for "handling" your order, something of course the local florist would have done for free, and it certainly doesn't add any value for you.

It's also common to inflate the delivery charge and pass only a portion of it on to the real local florist. The downside for you? You probably paid more for delivery than you had to.

But the real problem is the product. The order gatherer will try and save money by ordering something a little cheaper than what you actually paid for. You ordered the premium ultra-long stem roses? The order gather will often order something less expensive on your behalf and keep the difference.

The worst part is that they have become really good at masquerading as real florists. They will have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of websites (or doorway pages), each designed to make them look like a real local florist dedicated to serving a particular area. Same thing with the yellow pages and phone books – they'll take out ads and listings in directories across the country, all to try and convince you that they are real local florists. Sometimes they will even use the names and addresses of established, well-known shops.

If you can avoid these guys and deal with a real florist instead you will be fine. There is a great guide to finding a real local florist on the Bring Flowers website. Follow those tips, deal with a real local flower shop, and you will be very happy.