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Wednesday, July 13, 2016
When we first built our website, (http://flowerhut.com) over 10 years ago, the only devices available were desktop computers. That situation has changed.
We just contracted with 1Choice to do a complete re-do so that our site will be *much easier to use* for all devices - whether they are desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
That work sould be done in a week or so, and we hope this will result in a *easier buying experience* for all our customers!
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Before there were flower shops, people either grew their own flowers in a garden, or picked them from the wild. But today’s “flower fancier’ has many different ways to acquire beautiful flowers. In this short article, we will review the pros and cons of the various ways that consumers can purchase fresh flowers.
Where Do Flowers Come From?
Up until about twenty years ago, it was common to see small businesses with a name like, “Susy’s Florist & Greenhouse.” “Susy” usually had a small facility in front with a work bench, display cooler and cash register. When customers came in, it was common to see Susy go back into the Greenhouse to cut some flowers for a custom-made bouquet.
However, as land and energy costs increased, it became less and less practical for this type of operation to survive.
Today, a large portion of the flowers consumed in the US and almost all the roses -- are grown in the highlands of Colombia and Ecuador. The soil is rich, there is ample water, labor costs are low, and the growing season is 365 days long. And by non-stop jet airliner, these locations are just a few hours away from “gateway” cities like Miami.
From these cities, the flowers are distributed to wholesalers, large retailers and a scant handful of retail florists like the Flower Hut, a Charlotte Florist.
Unfortunately, all these processes take time. So there is a genuine risk that once-fresh flowers may deteriorate to the point that their vase life is shortened – sometimes dramatically!
So… How can growers ship fragile flowers worldwide without having them DIE prematurely?
The solution to the problem already exists. It is the reason why we can enjoy FRESH fruits and vegetables even when they were grown and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles from farms to the supermarket.
Cold Chain To The Rescue!
From the moment that vegetables are picked until the time they are purchased by the consumer, vegetables and most fruit are kept under refrigeration. This process is cold the Cold Chain.
It has been adopted, for the most part, by the Floral Industry.
But… there are problems!
In order to keep flowers as fresh as possible, they must be kept as close above freezing (32 degrees F) as possible. (Except for tropical flowers, like Orchids, that are best stored at around 45 Degrees.)
It is potentially dangerous to store fresh flower at 33 degrees. Even a slight malfunction in the cooling system will FREEZE the flowers. So most Floral Coolers are set to keep the flowers at about 36 to 40 degrees F.
That’s what we do at the Flower Hut, and we have an excellent reputation for providing Charlotte Flowers with outstanding freshness.
A broken Cold Chain
There are at least two flower distribution methods that FAIL to maintain proper temperatures.
The first failure is found at many RETAIL establishments that use Open-To-The-Air floral displays. These typically maintain the flower stems at about 40 degrees. The flower heads however are nearly at room temperature! Shown below are some actual Ryobi Laser temperature measurements that the author obtained at some local stores:
A. Air temperature: 78 Degrees F
B. Flower Temperature: 54 to 68 Degrees F
2. Harris Teeter:
A. Air temperature: 72 Degrees F
B. Flower Temperature: 58 Degrees F
A. Air temperature: 72 Degrees F
B. Flower Temperature: 42 to 66 Degrees F
Clearly, if flowers are stored at these elevated temperatures, flower life will be dramatically reduced!
The second failure is found with establishments like 1-800-flowers or ProFlowers that ship in-a-box flowers direct-to-customers. With this distribution method, the cold chain is broken – often dramatically.
That’s because delivery companies like Fed Ex and UPS do not maintain temperature control in their aircraft, distribution centers nor their vehicles. Even worse, if the recipient is not home, the flowers will be left at the door.
And that means that the flowers will quickly “cook” in warm weather or “freeze” in cold weather.
Local Florists Are Your Best Choice
Local florists, like the Flower Hut, are aware of these issues. They do their best to maintain the cold chain as intact as possible. And FRESHER FLOWERS is ultimately what all of us want!
For additional information, please visit the Flower Hut website http://flowerhut.com From there, you may purchase Charlotte Flowers from a REAL Charlotte Florist!
BUT, if you do not want flowers delivered to Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill or Pineville, NC, please do NOT order from us! Take the time to find a REAL florist in the town where you need flowers delivered. You’ll be glad you did!
Friday, January 15, 2016
Nobody would be foolish enough to knowingly purchase PIZZA using a third party call-center middleman. But every day, thousands of people do exactly that when they purchase flowers for delivery!
And that means most flower buyers pay as much as 50% MORE than they should pay!
When we are hungry for a Pizza, chances are we will use a smart communication device to search for something like: “(mytown) Pizza,” or perhaps, “(mytown) Pizzaria,” in a few seconds, the Google (or other) search engine will display a page full of results.
There are two types of search results, “Organic” and “Paid.”
Organic results are “earned” because of a complex mix of factors found in each competing website. Among these are relevance of the website to the search terms “Pizza” and “(mytown).” The higher the website’s relevance, the closer the website will be to the top of the Organic list.
Paid results are pay-per-click advertising. They are often found at the top of the page. (After all, the search engine company gets paid every time a consumer clicks on an advertisement.) Thus, the consumer sees these Paid ads before he sees the Organic results.
The organic search results will include both Independent Pizzerias and National Chains, but the result IS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME. If the customer orders online, essentially 100% of the purchase price goes to the local shop. And the customer gets the same pizza – at the same price -- as he would have gotten if he had gone personally into the local shop.
The situation is completely different for flowers. If a customer types in, for example, “(mytown) flowers” or “mytown florist,” he will get a similar list of results – Paid results first; Organic results second.
This is where the similarity between Pizza and Flowers ends.
People almost never send Pizza as a gift. People almost always send flowers as a gift. And the recipient may be local to the sender, or she may be in another city & state.
Before the internet, flower gift-givers would usually place their orders with a local florist that would transfer the order over a private floral network. , At least three such networks exist: FTD, Teleflora and 1-800-FLOWERS/Bloomnet.
Running the network was expensive for all concerned. Traditionally, the Network managing company charged a monthly access fee to each florist wanting to send or receive orders to/from florists in other cities. Also, the Network charged a transfer fee of 7% of the value of each order and the sending shop received a 20% credit on the gross value of every order they sent.
These credits or charges are reconciled each month. In those days, it was fairly common for the net value of incoming orders to roughly equal the value of outgoing orders. Customers’ needs were being satisfied.
Many sending shops, in order to get some immediate cash flow, began adding a “handling charge” of between $5 and $15.
When all the “smoke” clears, the receiving florist ends up getting paid about $0.70 for every dollar that the customer spent on flowers. And, because the sending florist also added as much as $15 for handling, the receiving florist ends up getting just a bit more than HALF what the customer spent!
But, in the “old days,” only a small percent of a customer’s orders went through these floral networks. So the negative effect was minimal, and was dealt with on a case-by-case basis if a customer complained to his local florist.
FAST FORWARD to the internet.
Consumers quickly learned that they could usually get GREAT BARGAINS buying everything from Aspirin to Zithers online. Certainly, that should be true of flowers.
But it was not.
Both Florists and Floral network owners began advertising online. Many established separate operating companies based solely on advertising, beautiful photos, e-savvy marketing and low-cost offshore call centers.
They offered beautiful Flowers, hand-delivered by a LOCAL florist – often at ridiculously low prices. And they were TAX FREE (unlike what local florists could offer.) But the prices often did not include the Handling Charge, same-day special handling charge, Saturday delivery charge etc. All of those extra charges were kept by the sending “florist.”
Customers began to notice the *huge* discrepancy between what they were getting for their money and what they *thought* they should be getting. And they voted with their pocketbooks.
Over the last 7 years, some 40% of the REAL florists in the US went out of business.But these “Phony Florists” have been undeterred. As an example, I Googled the search term: "Adak Alaska Florist." The top 8 "hits" were from "florists" offering to deliver flowers for me. All of these are Call Center Floral Middlemen.
Adak is an Island near the end of the Aleutions. The Population is about 250!
Additional information about these Phony Florists can be found at the Flower Hut website: http://flowerhut.com