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Poker Winnings & Tech Disrupt Flower Industry

Posted on 2.11.2015

With no stock images on their site, higher sales for local florists and plenty of e-marketing to boot, BloomNation is taking a gamble on its tech-supported floral marketplace.

A company that started with poker winnings, has picked up investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Ronny Conway, Spark Capital, Chicago Ventures, CrunchFund and Mucker Capital along the way. BloomNation.com's popularity has no doubt stemmed from its unique approach to selling floral arrangements. For example, all photos on BloomNation are of the florists' actual work, they provide same-day hand delivery with flowers already in a vase and artistically designed (no more flowers in a box) and customers will even receive a "BloomSnap," a photo of the completed order before it's delivered so they know that what they ordered is what the recipient will get (in turn, they avoid these Valentine's Day disasters).

BloomNation is becoming quit disruptive in the flower industry because of its tech and e-marketing-fueled approach, so Website Magazine caught up with CEO and Co-Founder of BloomNation.com, Farbod Shoraka to learn more - just in time for Valentine's Day, of course.

In what ways is BloomNation.com different from other websites in the flower industry? 

Farbod Shoraka: Other sites in the flower industry are just wire services, which means when you order arrangements from those sites, that order gets wired to a local florist in your recipient’s area. You have absolutely no idea who your order is getting wired to (meaning it could be a florist with a 1-star average on Yelp). The images on said wire services are just stock images of very basic, cookie-cutter designs. Local florists are just following a recipe to create your arrangement without getting the opportunity to promote and sell their original creations online. (These florists may not even have those flowers or the vase you fell in love with in their store that you see in the stock images, ultimately meaning the florist will substitute the design with whatever they have that’s available). With no transparency between you and the florist, the florist has no way to contact you to let you know that they will have to substitute.  

BloomNation, however, displays images of florists’ actual original creations — stock photos are not even permitted on the site. There’s 100 percent transparency between you and the florist where you’re able to compare local florists’ reviews, styles and prices all in one place as the site is an online flower marketplace. With no stock images, you can be ensured that the local florist you’re shopping directly with has the experience of creating the arrangement you see online. In addition, you’ll even receive a BloomSnap, which is a photo of your completed order before anything is hand delivered (eliminating flowers delivered in a box once and for all) so you know that what you ordered is what the recipient will receive (it’s actually a huge issue in the flower industry that customers don’t get what they paid for). And of course, BloomNation offers same-day hand delivery.

For the over 3,000 artisanal florists part of BloomNation, the company creates a variety of e-commerce tools for them to bring their physical business to the online world, including a free custom website, floral photo shoots of their actual images (see image below), PR opportunities, SEO optimization, a POS system for free and more. Florists also receive 90 percent of each sale, whereas on other flower sites, florists only end up with about 50 percent of the complete order after all is said and done, ultimately either breaking even or losing money on the sale.

What are a couple ways that BloomNation is using digital channels (e.g. apps, email, social, etc.) to provide a seamless customer experience? 

You’ll get a confirmation email that your order has been placed. You’ll then get your BloomSnap, which is the photo of your completed order before it’s hand delivered. Afterwards, you’ll get an email letting you know that the flowers have been delivered. This is to keep you up-to-date on your flower ordering process so you’re not left wondering where in the world your flower order is. There’s also an option to share your BloomNation order on social media. In doing so, you’ll actually get reimbursed a few dollars from your order.

Similarly, how does BloomNation’s efforts in these e-marketing channels support and/or increase revenue for participating florists?

Through wire services, you have no idea which florist is creating your design. It could be an incredible florist or it could be the town’s worst — but you'll never know because there’s no transparency. BloomNation lets you shop directly with more than 3,000 top local artisanal florists nationwide. You can compare reviews, prices and florists’ information and background all in one place. If the florist does a good job, you’ll want to use this florist again — ultimately giving local florists new and retaining business that they would never have had otherwise.

BloomNation also highlights its local florists’ designs through consumer emails, through social media, through PR and marketing opportunities and more. BloomNation gets florists national exposure yet lets them keep their local identity.


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