The retail flower business is more complicated than most outsiders think. You’re dealing with a perishable product. You’re running a retail store, a call center, a manufacturing business and a delivery service.
Just to efficiently handle the basics of taking and filling orders you need at least three of the following:
There are however a couple of ways to go about acquiring these services.
One is an “all in one” or monolithic approach, where one vendor provides all of the services. The advantage here is convenience - you need only deal with one vendor, and they take care of everything.
And while that is a big advantage, there are also some serious disadvantages. The first is cost…that convenience comes at a price. All-in-one vendors charge a significant premium over other approaches that we will discuss in a minute.
The other problem is a lack of mobility. Depending on one vendor for everything makes it very hard to switch vendors.
This means florists are often stuck with services they don’t like. They might like the website but not the POS… but they’re stuck with it because the process of switching to another all-in-one system is too daunting.
And this often further exacerbates the problem of cost. For example at some point the florist realizes that they’re paying far too much for credit card processing, and that they could save a fortune by switching merchant services provider. But they can’t’ because their all-in-one solution won’t allow it. Or they realize that the associated wire service membership is costing them a fortune, but quitting would mean losing access to their POS and website. In each case the florist is trapped, paying too much…especially for individual services they don’t like or want.
A better solution is the “stack” approach, best explained as “small things, loosely joined”.
With this approach you use a number of smaller separate services that integrate with each. A website that integrates with several different POS systems, and a POS that integrates with several different websites… so you always have the combination you want. A POS that allows you to use ANY merchant services provider, so you can always choose the one that gives you the best value.
With this approach it’s easy to tweak your stack, swapping pieces in and out to build the success platform that is best for you. Never are you confronted with the daunting prospect of switching everything all at once.
This is the approach taken by FloristWare for over a decade as we fostered rejationships and enhanced our integrations with the best providers of websites, order relay and merchant sevices.
It’s not the most profitable approach for us. We’d make more money by building our own websites and forcing them on our customers, by making them use a merchant services provider that charged more (and gave us a big kickback), etc.
That would be more profitable for us. But our focus has always been on what is best for our customers.