FloristWare does not provide flower shops websites. Instead we focus on providing the tightest possible integrate with the very best providers of websites for florists. This is partly a "let the baker bake the bread" philosophy. Providing a good ecommerce solution for florists is very, very difficult, and we'd rather our clients work with the vendors that do it best rather than release a lesser alternative just to capture more revenue.
We also stay away from websites because we believe florists should have freedom – rather than be locked into one vendor for POS, floral website and relay, they should be able to choose the options they like best in each category – a flower shop website from column A, relay from column B, and (hopefully) floral POS from FloristWare in column C.
That is the way we look at flower shop websites. Florists who are looking for an ecommerce website should look at it a little differently. The best approach is to look at a flower shops website is as a second store.
If you were going to open a second physical flower shop you would probably look for a location with traffic and visibility so that people could find you. If at all possible you would also want convenient parking, so that customers could get in and out easily.
One part of the online equivalent of this is having floral website with a good SEO (search engine optimization) foundation. SEO helps customers find you online, just like a high traffic/high visibility location helps a brick and mortar florist be found in the real world.
Convenience is also a factor online. Just like you want a location and parking that makes it easy for customers to get into your physical store, you wants a website that loads fast and makes it easy for them to get into your online store. Bad flower shop websites will use poor architecture and cheap hosting, resulting in poor performance. This hurts you two ways – slow websites are penalized with lower ranking in search engines, and customers will often just give up on a slow website before it even loads. It is very easy to just go back to the search results and choose another florist, and that is exactly what customers will do if your florist website is slow.
Budget is always a factor, but with the online store it probably isn't the only factor. Sure – everybody loves cheap rent, but at what cost? You would probably avoid opening a flower shop in a location with little traffic or visibility even if the rent was rock bottom. You'd probably avoid bad neighbourhoods and locations without parking even if they offered the lowest rents.
When it comes to an ecommerce floral website price shouldn't be the only consideration either. You wouldn't choose the cheapest possible location for a physical flower shop, so don't jump at the cheapest possible floral website.
Same thing with ease of use. Yes - you would probably like a physical location that is somewhat convenient, but again it's not your only consideration. If it was your flower shop would be in your garage or basement. You don't do that because you realize that it is more important that your flower shop be convenient to your customers.
It is the same thing with a flower shop website. It's great if it is easy for you, but it is far more important that your floral website is easy for them. Just as you don't make your life easier at the expense of your customers by locating in your suburban basement, don't choose a website simply because it is easy for you.
You would probably want the inside of your store to look nice, showcasing some of your favorite items. You would want your employees to be courteous, helpful and well trained – focussed 100% on taking care of the customer. All this because you want the people that come into (or call) your flower shop to buy something from your flower shop.
Again there is an online equivalent, this time called Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO. This is the science of converting visitors to your website into customers of your website. It is a very complicated and rapidly changing field. Like SEO there are a lot of people that claim to be experts and only a grew that truly are.
CRO specialists obsesses over conversion. They'll watch people use their sites to see how they navigate around. They'll commission expensive eye tracking studies and using advanced software to observe how people move through their sites. Their goal is to make sure people find the product they want, enter the information you need, and complete payment with as little resistance as possible.
In your physical flower shop you don't cut corners to save money at the expense of your customers. Processing credit cards is really expensive – at least 2% of the gross (including sales taxes) but you don't tell customers they have to pay cash to save yourself that money. You don't tell them they have to come to your store to place orders because you don't want to pay for a phone line. In fact you probably have a toll-free 800 number because you want them to call in and will even cover the long distance charges for them.
Don't cut corners when it comes to online floral websites either. All that CRO research and development mentioned earlier? It is very expensive, but it yields huge results in the form of more sales. Don't let what is cheapest be the deciding factor in these decisions.
If you saw someone leaving your store empty-handed what would you do? Would you just watch them leave? Or would you try and engage with them and see if you could save the sale?
The online equivalent of this is called cart abandonment – visitors that come to your site but don't make a purchase. Is your website doing anything about it?
This is the newest frontier in ecommerce, and very few floral websites address it. Some do – they will automatically try and engage the customer and save the sale. These recovered sales can add up dramatically.
When it comes to a physical flower shop everyone understands that it can't just be about cheap and easy. Cheap and easy are great, but only if all other things are equal. You won't take the cheapest rent or the "easiest" (most convenient for you) location unless it really is a good location for your flower shop.
The same thinking needs to be applied to online floral websites. Cheap and easy is great, but only if all other things are equal. Unless that cheap and easy website has a real SEO foundation and advanced CRO it's actually going to cost you money.