- Written by Hannah Dunne
“You’ll never do it!” They said. “The industry isn’t ready!” They exclaimed. The first splash made by futuristic flower buying concept Florismart wasn’t exactly plain sailing. Whilst the world has just about got the hang of comparing insurance and airfare online, purchasing wholesale stock was always going to take a little longer. But speak to the converted and you’ll see exactly what makes it so special.
Flower buying is nothing like banking, and Florismart isn’t a wholesaler. To start buying from them you don’t need to ‘switch suppliers’, you don’t have to close old accounts or forget your old wholesaler.
The point is Florismart’s 'search the market' concept isn’t about poaching because its online marketplace is open to suppliers on any scale. A point proven by the latest news that two traders from London’s longstanding institution New Covent Garden Market have just come on-board, offering British-grown stock.
A well-known florist once admitted, “I’m a bit of a slut when I buy,” and in the 21st Century that’s no bad thing. Buying around is something Florismart encourage and MD Steve France wants his customers to carry on going to their local wholesalers as well.
Florist Kate Mell from Yorkshire says, “For 25 years we’ve been buying from different types of suppliers, and Florismart’s business model is by far the best. I get a guaranteed price on every stem, the range and choice is amazing, the customer service is top notch and I particularly love the sundries department."
Steve tells us, “In the beginning, people doubted us, 18 months down the line and we proved them wrong.”
A point proven by 400+ buying florists and all the rave reviews Florismart has garnered over the year. Take this comment from Tracy and Brad Griffiths from All About Eden in Staffordshire; “We just can’t imagine ever going back to the old-style single webshop. Our profits have skyrocketed, the quality is fabulous, and the customer service is outstandingly exceptional.” Yep you heard it, outstandingly exceptional.
Florismart can boast its ground-breaking qualities because it offers a ‘market’ to florists who aren’t lucky enough to have a real-life one on their doorsteps. Okay so you can’t touch or smell the flowers but just knowing your flower grades gets you so much closer to feeling like you're there, and you also don’t have to wake up at 4am in the freezing cold to do your buying.
“No one likes change, and the industry didn’t want the new kids disrupting everything. But fortunately we’re passionate enough, clever enough, experienced enough and crazy enough to try it. 18 months on and we’ve achieved the impossible so Florismart is here to stay,” continues Steve.
Naysayers proved wrong. Here are just a few cynicisms Florismart have combatted:
Flower quality will be poor.
People thought that wholesalers would feel overexposed on the platform, but in fact Steve tells us they enjoy the competitive nature of the marketplace so florists can actually enjoy some refreshing transparency.
“Our wholesalers’ reputations are at stake in the marketplace, just like they are in the outside world. So they care about quality just as much as they usually would, and they've encouraged us to train florists to understand flower grades so that our customers don't experience any slip-ups on quality.”
Tracy and Brad explain, "We have learnt more about buying flowers in this last year than ever before, refreshingly the Florismart team are always to hand to guide and help."
An extra layer of cost will make buying more expensive.
Florismart makes a 5% commission on all sales in order to cover costs, but Steve says this is compensated by the fact that they get a 10% discount from bulk buying. Plus the transparency and competitive marketplace causes wholesalers to keep prices as low as they can without compromising quality.
Gemma Wakerely from Booker Flowers & Gifts in Liverpool says, "There is no need to pre-order anything anymore, and seeing the wedding prices before we buy or quote is just a God send." And Carole Stirzaker of The Flower and the Glory in Rochdale says, "The transparency of it all is clear for everyone to see."
We’ll be drowned in too much choice.
Steve says, “Our eleven suppliers give you a much better choice than you’d have with just one, and whilst it might take some florists a few attempts at first, our customers tell us that once they’re used to it, it makes buying flowers fun again. We serve all sorts of florists, young, old, internet savvy and computer cautious.”
Kate isn't worried because "the computer does all the work", and Carole says, “The superb range of flowers makes us stand out from the crowd and having access to such a vast product range gives us independence and total control over what we buy.”
But a start-up company’s first year can’t have sailed by without a hitch. What went wrong?
Whilst Steve tells us the platform is open to suppliers of all shape and size, he does insist on standards. “We had to lose two wholesalers because they just weren’t good enough. We also had to replace a transport company, build a whole customer service team in Aalsmeer, and we’re continually improving the website. We’ve learnt that excellent transport, reliability and deliverability are the most important aspects, so we now have 30 vans delivering overnight from Cornwall to Scotland.”
“There’s still room for improvement, but I reckon give us another year and Florismart will be light-years ahead.”
Whilst Florismart is a seriously tech-forward operation it’s still got benefits you wouldn’t expect. Like a new recycling initiative, a Floral DJ project, new florist ambassadors, plus the upcoming launch of an exciting new reverse auction concept. We’ll keep you posted as they move forward but in the meantime if you’ve not already had a nose around the webshop, it’s easy to register here.
Kate said, “The day we started using Florismart was a great day for my business,” whilst Gemma adds, "We have been using Florismart for 10 months, the ordering system is brilliant, we are very happy with quality, prices and service. Work is a big part of our lives, Florismart just makes it all easier."