When you want to say it with flowers, online florists provide the perfect solution. Luke Scully from Fresh Flowers and Gifts shares how he runs a successful online business, with tips on managing the order rush on special occasions.
Sometimes flowers are the best way to express your love, gratitude or sympathy. And when you live far away, or you’re busy doing a million other things, online florists make the process so much easier than it’s ever been before.
Australian business Fresh Flowers and Gifts has been providing swift and smooth delivery of flowers, chocolates, fruit baskets, gourmet food hampers, balloons, bears and more since 2008. A huge network of florists allows it to provide same-day delivery in Australia and New Zealand.
We had a chat with Luke Scully about the company’s success, growth and lessons learned.
How did Fresh Flowers and Gifts start – and how has it grown?
It started as a bit of an experiment in e-commerce, but within a few months it just seemed to take off. The growth has been spectacular and it continues to grow each year.
We’ve done well over one hundred thousand orders, and we’ve had tens of thousands of people who have written to us saying they’re really happy with what we do. We always invite feedback for every single order, and if people are ever unhappy about something, we find a way to satisfy concern.
How does the delivery work?
Over time we’ve built up a quality network of florists. People from all over the world place orders with us. We process and double-check all the information, then send the details to our florist covering the delivery area, and arrange for it be delivered on the chosen day.
With a network of over 500 trusted professional local florists and fabulous couriers, we can deliver same day across Australia and New Zealand.
What marketing strategies have you used?
We mainly rely on organic traffic and repeat business from loyal customers. But we’ve done all kinds of things – we have big roadside billboards on the north coast, bus shelter ads, we sponsor a couple of sports associations like Netball Northern Territory, St George Illawarra Dragons and GWS Giants, and we provide gifts at charity events and auctions.
We also do some social media. It’s all trial and error really – just figuring out what works and doesn’t work.
How do you handle the increased volume around special occasions?
Our big events are Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and Easter. At those times, we just gear it up. We put on more staff and our florists do, too – they’ll usually have their staff in the shops working through the night. It’s a big effort to get thousands of orders out on one day across Australia and New Zealand when they all really have to be delivered that exact day. But we make it work.
With Valentine’s Day just gone by, it was all about roses – generally men leaving it to the last minute! Around such special days, we can get peaks with hundreds of orders per hour, sometimes even per minute. Mother’s Day is the biggest day of the year. It’s usually less chaos than Valentine’s, as people tend to place orders in advance.
How does SecurePay help business run smoothly?
It all works really seamlessly. SecurePay shows you if there are any unsuccessful transactions, so you can see when people are having trouble and you can ring and help them. It’s easy to give refunds if you need to.
When people wake up on Valentine’s Day and need to organise last-minute flowers or gifts across Australia or New Zealand, we are thankful SecurePay systems are fast and accurate.
SecurePay also helps us prevent fraud. Romance scammers often try to place orders with online florists as the first step in their fraud. People are targeted on online dating sites Facebook and other social media. After gaining some trust, the scammer gets the target’s address and tries to deliver some flowers, food, wine and gifts. This is always with a stolen credit card. They try multiple cards, one after the other, trying to get the order through. SecurePay helps us by showing both successful and unsuccessful transactions so we can usually see when fraud is happening.
What’s the top lesson you can share for small businesses?
Google is God, that’s the lesson. It has plenty of resources telling you how to be a webmaster – listen to what they say. If you just read those 10 or so pages, you’ll know a lot more than the next person.