Online flower delivery
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Online flower delivery services are websites that allow consumers to order flowers and related items by browsing an online catalogue. They are often delivered to a third party, the recipient of the gift.
Types of service
Services are broadly divided into four categories:
Local florist websites offer arrangements and bouquets for direct delivery in the geographic area physically serviced by their companies' own vans and personnel. This service is also known as "hand delivered" and has the advantage of presenting shoppers with the precise items available for delivery on a same-day basis. Local delivery charges are generally displayed as a separate fee from the price of each product.
Order brokers are third-party agents that display arrangement and bouquet product images and then transfer orders to affiliated local florists for fulfillment and hand delivery. Order broker customers pay additional service fees as well as local delivery charges, which are generally included in the price displayed with each product. Orders are sent to local florists for fulfillment via a floral wire service. The advantage of this service is the consolidation of purchases for delivery to multiple locations through a single website. The disadvantage is the customer cannot see or pick the fulfilling florist.
Most florists also offer order brokering services for national and international delivery.
Relay service / relay florist
A relay service often referred to as a relay florist, is essentially a website where a person or organization often with sophisticated computer operation/s, procures a purchase order between a consumer and itself instead of the order being placed directly with a local florist in the delivery area. The relay service collects payment for the order, however as the Relay service normally cannot fulfill the order itself unless the delivery is local to the location of the Relay service, it relays the order and payment to a local florist in the delivery area, minus a commission. Examples of relay florist are Interflora, Trinity Flora and DecoPetals, Teleflora and Ready Flowers.
Courier delivered flowers (also sometimes called Grower Direct or Flowers By Post) are assembled into bunches at the farm or in the warehouse of an importer or distributor; they are then placed in cardboard boxes and shipped direct to the recipient via overnight couriers. The advantage of such a service is that because the flowers are shipped from the farm/importer they can be fresher although temperature fluctuations en route and shipping conditions may negate the benefit. Recipients are responsible to unpack, clean, condition and arrange courier delivered flowers.
Flowers need to be conditioned after the shipping process, otherwise they will die. Florists condition flowers before delivering them and have quality control checks that warehouse workers may not. Examples of courier delivery florists include ProFlowers and Arena Flowers. Though typically couriered flowers have historically been the remit of "order gatherers" major florist relays such as Interflora, Teleflora and FTD all offer professionally florist designed bouquets delivered by courier rather than utilizing local florists.
Christmas, 25th Dec; Valentines Day, 14th Feb; and Mother's Day, 2nd Sunday of May (or 3 weeks before Easter Sunday in UK) are when demand of services is the highest. Ordering from a local florist directly and if possible early will ensure delivery at these times. Online services often deliver by mail or courier rather than hand so Sunday deliveries can prove expensive.
- Staby, George and Reid, Michael. "Improving the Cold Chain for Cut Flowers and Potted Plants" California Cut Flower Commission, December 2005.
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