Floral wire service
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A floral wire service, also known as a flower relay service is a company established primarily to facilitate order exchange and fulfillment between local florists and/or third-party sales agents of floral products. Floral wire services offer proprietary networks, clearing house services and operate as affiliate marketing schemes.
The first floral wire service, established by a group of 15 US florists in 1910, was Florists' Telegraph Delivery Service (FTD). The group was formed as a cooperative and was mutually owned by its members. Members exchanged orders via telegraph messages and hence the name 'wire service' was used to identify the order exchange business model. In 1965, with the introduction of international order sending, FTD changed its name to Florists' Transworld Delivery.
In the 1920s, a group of British florists formed a similar 'Flowers by Wire' group. This group, also a business cooperative and affiliated with FTD, began operating under the name Interflora in 1953. By the 1970s, most European countries had their own Interflora units.
Similar to travel agents, wire service affiliates' main functions are to act as agents and sell products and services on behalf of local florist suppliers. Unlike other retail businesses, sellers are not required to keep stock on hand. A flower arrangement or other floral gift is not purchased from a supplier unless a customer requests the item. The flowers or other floral gift are supplied to them at a discount. The profit is therefore the difference between the advertised price which the customer pays and the discounted price at which it is charged to the agent. This is known as the commission. A wire service affiliate selling agent typically earns 20% of the product and local delivery price, plus services charges. Additionally, many florist wire services pay performance rebates to affiliate resellers.
Twenty-four states in the USA have now outlawed geographic misrepresentation by floral product sellers in Yellow Pages and in online advertising.National floral marketplaces such as BloomNation offer an alternative to the wire services.
Major wire services
- Petals Network operating in Australia, New Zealand and the UK