Retail Flower Business

Using Discount Codes To Track Advertising Efforts

Great look at how discounts codes can help small business owners track the performance of their advertising/marketing efforts more accurately.


This short post on using discount codes to track advertising/marketing efforts looks at the poster below...

... and how the producer is using the promise of a 10% discount to motivate the ticket-buyer into doing something they otherwise would not care about in the least – helping the producer track the effectiveness of their various advertising and marketing efforts.

The Problem With Profitable Delivery

The goal to aggressively increase profit from floral delivery fees presents some serious problems for florists, and the industry, that are often overlooked.

Over the last few decades the floral industry has changed the way it approaches delivery fees. At one point delivery was, at least in many places, included free of charge. Then it was heavily subsidized.

Later it became a break-even proposition, then a profit center. Now florists are often encouraged to aggressively pursue greater profits from delivery fees. Making money in the flower business is very difficult, and pricing in the flower business is a very complicated subject, but high delivery fees overlook some known facts:


Everybody Hates Delivery Fees

The research on this is overwhelming...

Econsultancy found that 74% shoppers abandoned baskets due to high shipping costs.

Amazon Prime was introduced because so many people abandoned their carts once they saw delivery fees. Prime uses what is known as a high-low pricing model to take the sting out of ordering from Amazon – Prime members don't have to pay shipping and buy much more often as a result.


You Can't Assume A Dialog

It is often said that if customers don't complain about delivery fees they don't mind paying them. That is a big assumption.

If you're in a restaurant and are surprised by the high prices, you aren't likely to complain about them or start a conversation on pricing with the owner. Instead you are likely to order less, and not go back.

This is the other glass ceiling, the one comprised of consumer expectations, and breaking it is dangerous. Your customers will leave, and they aren't likely to tell you why.


Everybody Hates A Monopoly

We're the only ones that can do it!

It is often pointed out that only real local florists can offer same day delivery. Floral drop shippers can't do it, and order gatherers can't do it without a real local florist to fill for them.

Since local florists are the only ones that can charge for local delivery, nobody will mind them charging a lot for it... at least that is how the argument goes.

Really? Do consumers really like it when business take advantage of a monopoly to jack their prices? Before Netflix and streaming became popular did people feel good about their cable bill?


Delivery is expensive to provide, and "free" may not be an option. Bundling is one option, one that works very well in other industries, but being reasonable with delivery fees is absolutely critical. Remember – the pizza guy does mostly out-and-back deliveries for a much smaller fee.

Being too aggressive opens the door for competition shown in the picture. These flowers will, almost certainly, be absolutely terrible. But the distaste for delivery fees is so powerful, and the appeal of free delivery so compelling, that this store will take some business away from local florists.


Your Supplier Might Be Stealing From You

If you have ever seen one of your suppliers crashing or suitcasing at a conference, convention or trade show they're stealing from you. You need to get a new supplier.

At almost any convention you will see vendors not just crashing but also suitcasing. It tends to be the same deadbeats with the same stories and excuses over and over again, but even first-timers are stealing from you and you need to get better suppliers.

You probably understand what is meant by "crashing" a convention or trade show – attending without a paid registration. There are always a couple of vendors prowling around the resort or convention center without a badge, acting surprised to see people.

They usually insist they "just happened" to be there, and that the whole thing is a remarkable coincidence. It's generally laughable, because so many conversations among paid attendees revolve around how hard it was to get to that particular vendor. But the crashers just had the good fortune to accidentally wind up there at the same time. Right.

If you see your supplier walking around a trade show, conference or convention without a badge remember something – they are stealing from you. You paid to be there. It's your money being used to pay for whatever your vendor consumes.

If you see your vendor suitcasing... that is a much, much greater sin.


Suitcasing is a parasitic business practice in which unethical companies will gain access to an event by obtaining some type of event credential (attendee badge, expo-only badge, etc.) and then solicit business in the aisles or other public spaces used for the conference. This practice skirts the support of the organizer and the industry. This does not pertain solely to soliciting the attendees of an event. As we all know, some of your biggest customers/vendors can be other exhibiting companies. So, when a salesperson for "Joe's Manufacturing" (who is not exhibiting) shows up in your booth in an attempt to earn your business ... they are suitcasing.

Definition of Suitcasing From Meetings & Conventions


Just to clarify – a suitcaser may also be a crasher. If someone crashes the event (no registration badge) and is also suitcasing they are being unethical twice. If they do have a paid registration they can still be guilty of the more serious crime of suitcasing if they have not paid for the right to exhibit.

Suppliers that are guilty of crashing and or suitcasing have proven themselves to be unethical, and that is reason enough to stop doing business with them.

But they are also stealing from you. If they aren't paying to attended and/or exhibit you are covering their share of the costs. Why would you buy from someone that was stealing from you?


Highest Rated POS Software For Florists

FloristWare is the highest rated and best reviewed POS system for florists on Software Advice review site.

Last week a review site called Software Advice started contacting our customers, asking them to review FloristWare.

This was done without our knowledge or consent. We did't ask Software Advice to do this because we wouldn't want anyone to bother our clients. Florists are busy, and it's not their job to to write reviews of our POS software. We wouldn't ask like that, and we were concerned that another company was doing it.

Fortunately our clients are great, and they didn't mind. They like FloristWare enough that they were happy to take the time to submit reviews.

The also said incredibly nice things in their reviews and ratings for FloristWare, things like:

I love the ease of use, all employees have had no problem learning how to use the program. The marketing features like reminder notices and the customer points has been of great value to increasing sales and customers love the reminders and points. The staff at FloristWare has always been terrific to work with from explaining a feature to resolving any issues that have ever arose. The owner is a pleasure to speak with and try to accommodate special request.



There is very little I don't like about FloristWare. It does everything I need. New features are continually added to the software, and older features are updated regularly to allow superior customer service from us to our clients.


Our support department also got singled out for some special praise:

Support - from the research to the set up and from training to ongoing help desk - unparalleled. Response time for any question was the best I've ever experienced with POS systems.


And again here:

The vendor is superb - friendly, responsive and dedicated to the support of their customers. Floristware is a partner in my business, not just a tool.


The features in FloristWare also got several mentions including:

New features are continually added to the software, and older features are updated regularly to allow superior customer service from us to our clients.


More details on these latest reviews and ratings can be found on the FloristWare POS website. We really can't thank our clients enough for their loyalty and support.


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.

EMV Payment Technology For Florists

We've recently had some questions about how the EMV payment standard affects florists. It is a important subject for any merchant (especially with the October deadline coming into view), but the flower business really is different.

Here are a few key points about EMV and how it relates to retail floral:

EMV transactions require three things: a credit card with a chip, a cardholder that knows the PIN, and a special EMV terminal that can read the card, allow the cardholder to enter the PIN, and confirm the result.

The technology makes it almost impossible for someone to make a fraudulent card-present purchase using a counterfeit, stolen or otherwise compromised card.

The EMV standard only protects the florist from liability for in-store card-present purchases made with a counterfeit, stolen or otherwise compromised card. In-store card-present transactions represent a relatively small percentage of overall sales for the typical flower shop. The use of counterfeit, stolen or otherwise compromised in-store is an even smaller percentage of that.

The EMV standard does not protect online/ecommerce transactions or telephone orders. Typically 70%-90% of the sales in retail floral are handled over the phone or an an commerce website and they will never qualify as EMV. As a florist you are much less affected by EMV than regular retail.

As of the deadline a florist can, if they wish, continue exactly what you are doing now with the equipment that you already have. Nothing stops working.

What does happen is that there is a shift in liability. Before the deadline the losses from a fraudulent card-present transaction fall back on the payment processor or issuing bank. After the deadline they will fall back on whichever party is least compliant, in most cases the merchant.

If your system is secure and has never been breached it does not become any less secure or more susceptible to a breach after the deadline.

Even the ABA expects only 50% of retail to be on EMV by the end of the year.

Advanced Pricing Strategies From The Movie Business

For as long as I can remember the movie business has been reported to be in trouble. When I was teenager it was the VCR that was supposed to kill it. Most recently it has been online piracy – how can you make money when anyone with an internet connection can steal your product.

But Hollywood keeps making money, in no small part because of great pricing strategies. In fact they provide so many great examples of different pricing tactics that they are often featured on the Beyond Cost Plus site.

An article was recently added that summarizes some of the best examples and highlights how Hollywood effectively uses concepts like hurdles, anchoring and more to increase sales and profits.

Few of us might be in the movie business, but almost anyone that sells or prices products can learn from them.

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.

Solutions in Search of Problems vs Real Solutions

Epic Flowers focusses on solutions that deal with actual ecommerce issues and not creating solutions for problems that don’t exist. 

An experienced problem-solver for Epic Flowers, Brandon Kirkland, has made a point of showing other companies how some of the best new features that are being included in Epic Flowers. Many of these were centered on the real problem of acquiring higher conversion rates.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a conversion rate is the percentage of customers who visit a site and then purchase the product that is available or do another desired action. For a floral shop, the conversion rate is the percentage of customers who purchase something on your site. 
All of the Epic websites have done a great job at building a high conversion rate, and they have one of the best conversion rates on the web for floral arrangements. Still, Brandon knows that there is always going to be room for improvement, so he tries to make conversion rate better for his clients. 

The work that is involved in these projects can be difficult. To make matters worse, it is usually invisible and potentially thankless. It is not nearly as exciting as being able to introduce another revenue stream to your client, but it still has a large impact. In essence, a higher conversion rate means that you simply do not lose as many customers as you did before.

Still, it is a very important aspect of your business. Every sale that you make is worth another $40 or more. These small improvements add up over time and can lead to you having a much more effective business that is able to attract even more due to its perceived success.

To most people, being able to increase their conversion rate by 1% may not seem significant, but considering that most online floral businesses only have a conversion rate of about 3% as it is, you will be able to see a 33% increase in business with this relatively small conversion improvement.

Improving your conversion rate is a real solution to a real problem. You are working to get more customers to buy your product. Now, there are many companies that hire consultants to add more features to their site that are not particularly geared towards increasing the amount of business that is garnered, but just to match other sites. This is called a solution for a non-existent problem, meaning that it is not solving a business problem, only going out the back of the company as a cost. 

For many online floral businesses, this sleight of hand trick is distracting your customers with unnecessary features that will not make them more likely to buy your products. These consultants that want to redesign your site completely miss the concept of responsive design and do not attempt to capitalize on a higher conversion rate.

If you want to see some serious improvement in your conversion rate, then it is a good idea to examine some of the features that are being offered by Epic Flowers so that you can try to improve it.

New Michigan Floral Association Website

The MFA (Michigan Floral Association) has a new website and it is great. Here are just some of the reasons:

It's fully responsive, meaning it looks and works great on devices of different sizes.

It was made in North America – the money stays here with people that are likely to buy flowers from member florists, not overseas contractors.

It has a great system for finding MFA member florists.


The MFA is one of the very best associations serving the floral industry and they definitely have a website to match.

More about what makes this new floral association website so great.

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.

AIFD (the American Institute of Floral Designers)

The American Institute of Floral Designers (aka AIFD) has worked tirelessly for almost fifty years to advance the art of professional floral design through education, service and leadership.

FloristWare is an industry partner of AIFD - the only independent technology provider that supports AIFD. It is truly a pleasure and an honor to support this great association and their wonderful membership.

"Almost fifty years" part is very important right now because next year, 2015, is the 50th anniversary of AIFD.

This means that their Annual Symposium will be even bigger and better than usual when they get together to celebrate this milestone.

The event takes place in Denver CO early in July and promises to be something truly special.

More information on the AIFD symposium and most other floral industry events can be found in the FloristWare Floral Industry Resource Guide.

Defending Against Bad Yelp Reviews

Review site Yelp is very important for small business owners. The facts are overwhelming – a claimed and well-maintained site on Yelp is incredibly beneficial for any small business including flower shops. Unfortunately looking after a Yelp page is less fun than pursuing likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter and it tends to get neglected.

Part of frustration is that with Yelp business owners can be feel powerless – you aren't supposed to solicit reviews, and there isn't much you can do when a bad review pops up. Feeling out of control isn't fun and in many cases it seems easier to just leave Yelp alone.

A great new Yelp infographic might change that. It gives business owners a clear plan of attack for getting good Yelp reviews and, as much as possible, managing the bad ones.

Responsive Website Design For Flower Shops

Lately we have had a lot of questions from florists about responsive design.

They're starting to understand that they need a responsive design for their flower shops website (often because they hear from loyal customers that are increasingly frustrated by how hard it is to place an order on a non-responsive design from a smartphone or tablet*)  but they're not entirely sure what "responsive" means, whether they have it already, and how it might affect their website.

Fortunately there are some great free tools to help and I go over some of them here:

How Does Your Flower Shop Website Look on a Mobile Phone or Tablet?


*not good - surveys show more than sixty percent of customer are likely to leave and go to a competitor if they don't like your shopping experience.


Protecting Your Business With a BYOD Policy

At the 2014 SAF Annual Convention I spoke with several florists about the importance of a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. Such policies define the acceptable use of personal electronic devices likes smartphones and tablets in the workplace. Larger businesses enforce policies and small businesses need to do the same.

Think about a restaurant... would they want employees taking pictures of the prep areas, kitchen  or garbage disposal, and then potentially sharing on Facebook? Even if they were not just following or exceeding all official guidelines and passing all inspections those are generally not the images they want to present to the world. That goes for most businesses – ownership wants to present one brand and image to the world, and the back rooms are usually not part of that.

Courtesy and professionalism are also factors that need to be considered. People have a habit of checking their devices almost absentmindedly, but does a customer really want to deal with a salesperson, server or clerk that is also checking their phone?

Lost productivity is another issue. Sure – we might spend only a few seconds at a time checking our devices but all of those seconds add up and it is the employer that loses out.

And the nature of the internet presents challenges as well – it means almost any content is available at any time. But so much of that content is inappropriate for the workplace and could be offensive to other employees that could claim they were subjected to a hostile work environment.

A personal device policy is something employers need to consider.