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In the Internet Age, nothing seems easier than ordering flowers online. You simply locate an online florist, place your order and within a few hours, your fresh, beautiful flowers are delivered to your home, office or to a special friend.
By all appearances, this is how the system operates. In reality, there are a few things about online florists that consumers should know. This guide to online ordering is presented in order to help you make informed decisions about ordering flowers online and the importance of working with a local florist for all of your floral needs.
What Is A Local Florist?
It may sound like a silly question, but it's not. A local florist is a business owner who lives and works in your community. The florist owns a store, or perhaps a set of stores, within driving distance of your home, or the home of someone to whom you intend to send flowers. A local florist employs professional designers, assistants and delivery people, who also live and work in your community.
When it comes down to it, local florists fulfill your online order. They design and create the arrangements you order and deliver them to your intended recipient. They provide valuable services, and helpful, friendly advice about ordering flowers, live plants and non-living floral arrangements. They're a local resource because they are familiar with the area hospitals, businesses, nursing homes, funeral homes, and the streets in the communities in which they live and work. They answer questions, solve problems and deliver the service you want and need when ordering floral arrangements.
They advertise flowers for sale in television commercials and in online advertising. They seem reputable. They have "local" outlets in every city in the country. They have nice Web sites. They even have 800-numbers. There's just one problem. They don't have any flowers! Among genuine florists, these online entities are known as "Order Gatherers" because frankly, that's the only thing they do.
The Order Gatherers forward your order to a genuine local florist for fulfillment. For their part, they retain a significant portion of the money you've paid for your flowers, leaving the local florist with little ability to operate his or her business, contact the customer, or provide the level of service that professional florists offer.
Local florists are small businesses. They are negatively impacted by Order Gatherers, who return very little to the florists they depend upon to maintain their veneer of "customer service." Unfortunately, many local florists cannot operate profitably in these circumstances, and choose to exit the floral business altogether.
Order Gatherers often attempt to make their Web sites appear to belong to a local business when they don't. These "local" Web sites are fronts, which redirect the unsuspecting customer to the Order Gatherer's main site. In other words, they deliberately attempt to deceive customers into thinking that they're dealing with a local florist, when in fact, they're dealing with a call center, which may not even be located inside the country!
This leaves the customer with little meaningful recourse when they encounter problems with their order, or have questions that only a professional florist can answer. Moreover, the Order Gatherers inflate the price you –the customer – pay for your flowers. They offer no meaningful service, have no connection with the flowers, the delivery or even the customer, yet they collect and retain a significant percentage of the money you pay for your online flowers. Sometimes, Order Gatherers collect money for one arrangement, and deliver something else. Other times, they simply take your money and run.
That doesn't seem fair, does it? It's also probably not the level of service you expect to receive from a business, and it may conflict with your legitimate desire to support a local business in your community. Ultimately, when local florists can no longer compete with the Order Gatherers, they go out of business, reducing the number of genuine florists in your community, and increasing the cost of flowers to you, the customer.
You visit a Web site or locate a florist in the Yellow Pages, order flowers, and pay with a credit card. You may assume that you've dealt with a local florist. If you aren't careful, you may end up using an Order Gatherer instead. Some of the biggest names in online floral ordering are nothing more than Order Gatherers. Some of the most sinister Order Gatherers are simply there to steal your money.
The best way to locate a genuine local florist is to locate their place of business in your community. If you're not familiar with the local florists in town, Google Maps can help you locate real florists. Look for a business with a recognizable street address that can be mapped. Phony florists sometimes offer a fake street address, relying on the fact that you won't verify that a business exists.
Look for the shop's hours of operation. Most florists are open six or seven days per week.
Look for a local telephone number. Many larger local florists do offer 800-number service, but they also publish a local number. If you find only an 800-number on a Web site or no physical address, you may be dealing with an Order Gatherer. If you're uncertain, call the business directly to determine their location, hours, and delivery policies.
Also be aware that faux florists sometimes provide a local number that is automatically forwarded to a call center elsewhere. You may not know that you've been scammed until you find inflated charges on your phone bill and/or credit card.
You can also use the Florist Dectective, an online resource to help you distinguish real, reputable local florist from the "Web Weeds" that populate the Yellow Pages and Internet search engines. The Florist Detective is located at:
You can also check with state and local Allied Florists' Associations that can verify your florist is a local member.
When you have located a local florist online, search their Web site for your flowers. Many local florists have sites that rival the best Order Gatherers' sites. They offer the same arrangements advertised by the Order Gatherers and accept major credit cards.
Genuine local florists offer real customer service, quality products, local delivery assistance, selection advice and more. You can talk directly to the people who arrange and deliver your flowers. You can also share your concerns and work with your local florist to resolve any issues you may have with your order.
You have the security of knowing that you're dealing with a genuine, professional florist. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting a local business in your community or in the community of your intended recipient.
You know that you and your local florist aren't being short-changed by your order, and that you will receive the flowers you order and the highest level of customer service possible when you deal directly with the florist who creates, arranges and delivers your fresh beautiful flowers!