- Written by Caroline Marshall-Foster
- January 01, 2017
- Category: Editor's Blog
In my opinion the price of relay doesn't just end with the costs of belonging or the money a member might lose, it's the image these companies present to the consumer that hurts all good florists as well.
Not just boring beyond belief designs but shot in a way that almost guarantees disappointment; all front facing, all open blooms, designs that simply can't be replicated in real life. In fact even allowing for the dreadful florists that are still members and churning out garbage, the range on offer in the UK is, in my opinion, as dull as ditch water and sparse; well I guess it has to be to fit the 67% that's available.
Conversely go to some of the newer on-line players and you'll see lush, full hand tieds that ooze style and volume. And they really are as good as they look. Arena sent us their Good Housekeeping recommended Crimbo one and it was divine; beautifully made, clearly by a skilled florist and other than the essential – albeit rather ugly - nappy and the fact it came in a box - was gorgeously wrapped and lasted.
Appleyard on the other hand are brilliant at shooting their offerings in a way that the whole thing is visible so customers can see exactly what they are getting while the Waitrose Christmas collection was, I am afraid, really rather good. In fact, much as it pains me, it is the new kids on the block who are showcasing the designs I would expect a decent florist to produce, not the traditional relay offerings.
Indeed, in my opinion, players like Bloom & Wild, Flowerbx, Arena, Zing, Waitrose, M&S, Appleyard are doing well simply because the 'faces' of the independent sector ... i.e. Interflora, eFlorist, FTD et al haven't developed or moved on from where they were 10/15 20 years ago or have delivered (be it by courier or through one of their members) one too many dud. As a result, I suspect these new players are attracting the younger buyer and disappointed middle agers – all without the independent florist getting a look in.
The saddest thing though, is, even allowing for economies of scale, any good florist could match the offerings of Arena, Appleyard, Waitrose et al if they had the same money. However, the loss of 30%+ plus another 7%/10% for membership fees etc is why many relay members are now openly admitting to me that their own in-shop ranges are better value and confess to buying lower grade flowers for their relay work. Horribly sad but something I totally get.
In an ideal world all relays would disappear overnight and the orders would go back to florists – and yes that is what would happen because consumers are using eFlorist/Interflora et al precisely because they want a florist to make it. Add in the fact that most orders are same day and it's easy to see why florists are STILL the most important part of the chain. Indeed precisely why the new players are so desperate to find a way of creating a network and why the current big boys are equally desperate to stop them by putting restrictive rules in place on who their members can deliver for.
Which means nothing will change until the florists currently doing the circa 2.5 million relay orders wake up and smell the roses. Because for as long as there are florists willing to act as underpaid workrooms, the damage the old school relay companies do to the image of floristry will just get worse and the new players will continue to take business away from the independents; unless of course 2017 is the year a new network system does develop - now there's a thought!!