Supporting local florists is increasingly important to consumers around the world, and Australia is no different. At the same time, the popularity of shopping online has exploded in recent years. Consumers are increasingly choosing to send flowers online. Many websites have sprung up calling themselves "floral order gatherers". Are these service providers any different from your neighbourhood floral shop? Are there any advantages left to taking the time to visit a local shop? Perhaps time and money can be saved by buying online.
While there may be some fantastic floral offers online, the end product that your friend or family member receives may differ considerably from the photo of the bouquet that you thought you had sent. Online companies rarely, if ever, keep any actual flowers and related products in stock. Instead, they concentrate on gathering as many orders as possible from as many locations as possible. They then hope that they can find the flowers they need to make the arrangements they have already promised to deliver. Sometimes it works. Often it doesn't.The Advantages of Your Local Florist
Perhaps the most immediate and obvious advantage you receive when choosing to support a local florist is that you will be face to face with a real human. Most florists with their own businesses have many decades of experience in flower arranging and can help you make an appropriate selection that is certain to delight the recipient. They are up to date with internet technology and can help send flowers online using their own connections.
Many florists keep track of each individual client's preferences, repeat deliveries and other important details. They can suggest what arrangements are best suited to different age groups and occasions. Many will also send you a reminder to let you know of upcoming birthdays should you desire. You receive more personalized and professional service that allows you to send the best bouquet your budget will buy. If there are any delivery or service charges, they will be stated clearly on your bill, and not buried in fine print at the bottom of a web page.
An Australian florist will naturally know the growing seasons and best times to source certain kinds of flowers and plants. He or she will know that Mother's Day and Valentine's Day will be very busy indeed. They will be sure to have their shop full of roses, daisies and lots of other fresh cut flowers to satisfy the increased demand at these times of the year.
By contrast, sending flowers online with a "virtual florist" can be hit or miss in terms of quality and reliability. You may be directed to a call centre that is based thousands of miles away. You could be giving your credit card number and personal information to a sub-contracted company in a developing country. Especially at busy times of the year, we may be persuaded to send floral gifts online via an internet shop. This is not an effective way to guarantee your mother or partner is going to get the best available bouquet.
Quite the opposite may in fact happen. Scrambling to put together thousands of last minute orders, unscrupulous suppliers may take whatever they can find, wrap it and deliver it. It doesn't really matter to them if the gift is well-received. It's not like the employees of an online company have ever met you, nor likely that they ever will.
However, someone who has worked hard to establish their name and their business in your town or city does care. They rely on repeat customers and word of mouth referrals to keep their business alive and well. And that task has gotten even tougher with the growth of the "virtual florist" online industry and the way they do business. Perhaps customers think they are saving time and money by not visiting a local shop. But the quality of the delivered product is likely to suffer. As is the viability of the local economy.How Your Local Florist Has Gone Global
Having been in business for many years, your neighbourhood florist has built up countless relationships with florists in other cities, green houses and delivery services. When they receive your order they can connect directly with a similar service provider in the city you wish to deliver your flowers to. They will know immediately if a certain kind of flower or colour is unavailable. They may know your personal preferences and will be able to suggest and accept an alternative colour or blossom on your behalf. Or they may contact you directly to assure that a substitution is acceptable.
Most local businesses have realized that they must adapt to constantly changing technology and increased competition from online service providers. This means making use of the internet, but adapting the opportunities it affords to better serve their own customers, and thus keep them! Australia's floral shops have done this and can help you send flowers online or through their own well-established networks. Take the time to visit a local shop and don't be afraid to ask for advice the next time you need a floral arrangement sent.The Risks Associated with Online Floral "Brokers"
Beware of hidden charges that may not be obvious when you place an order through an online florist or order centre. Firms may add a fee for handling, shipping, or even "convenience". Some virtual florists claim that this is to cover the costs they incur in their efforts to source flower arrangements locally, once they have received the order. But isn't this part of the service you're already paying for?
Local florists around the world have called upon various governments and regulatory agencies to call for changes to the ways that "floral order gatherers" operate. At the very least, it is agreed that as these businesses rarely have an actual flower shop filled with actual flowers, they should instead be named "floral relay services" or "floral marketing firms". This would distinguish them from the small businesses across the country that are true florists. Flower shops with real people, real stores, and the ability to deliver on their promises. You, your family and friends deserve no less.