Interview with (888) Live Flowers' President, Lloyd Kennedy
Lloyd, I know you better as Lloyd, so I think I'll just keep calling you Lloyd...
Yup (grin), since leaving the tv industry, I have probably become better known as Lloyd, at any rate. More coffee?
Thanks, Lloyd. Meantime, if you're ready, I'll just fire away with my questions... At first glance, it appears that no other industry has embraced the Internet and the World Wide Web more quickly and with more significance than the florist community. Just one visit to a search engine provides enough florists to make even the heartiest web surfer hyperventilate. Just type in flowers. But even though florists are found throughout the WWW, there are now so many sites that the worthwhile ones often become lost. And because of the overall florist presence, it is now virtually impossible to set yourself or your web effort apart from the others. So what happened to create this logjam and how can this web obscurity for florists be overcome?
Well, the answer to the first question is debatable, but nonetheless interesting. In my view, the florist community, most notably FTD, and other so-called wire services, jumped directly into the technology of the Web before realistically assessing the ability and willingness of their market to utilize it effectively. In other words, they committed an entire industry to operate their individual businesses (the local florists) in a completely new manner and with a technology which continues to overwhelm the majority of Professional Web Designers let alone florists. Check out http://www.novator.com/ftdinc/cgis/FTDflorist.cgi put in your zip code and if an affiliate comes up, you're fortunate indeed.
So why did the flower growers sell out its long-time relationships and old-time roots with the wire services to embrace a technological approach which has proven a failure to this point?
They felt squeezed. They realized that their network of the past would soon be replaced by the WWW. Local florists across the U.S. were overcoming their dependence on FTD and Teleflora etc., and opting for self promotion in yellow pages, cable, etc. At about this time the Internet and its graphical component, the World Wide Web arrived. So instantly, competition was introduced to the equation by those of us who ship flowers door to door. You see when you buy direct from (888) Live Flowers, you save the handling fee that would be gathered by the local florist, because we ship direct from our growing grounds to your door.
So we can now see how the WWW came in, threatened, and killed, the status quo of the entire industry. And it can't be stressed enough how significant this change was because it forced everyone to do business differently. It changed the growers and the middlemen, and it has even changed the way every florist in America markets and sells flowers.
Were the changes good?
Yes and No. The decrease in the hold that wire service monopolies had on the distribution of wealth certainly returned marketing decisions back to the florists and the communities which were most affected.
And interestingly enough, many of those florists have chosen the route originally mapped out by FTD. Using WWW sites to market locally and even order flowers directly from the grower and bypassing a multitude of brokers. Visit www.iflowers.com for an example.
But, the flipside is that many florists were left to wander between the old ways and the new school. And unfortunately, most of them are still wandering. They wander between direct mail, cable ads, web sites, newspapers, seminars, workshops, and virtually anything else in which they can envision a ray of hope.
And it is this wandering syndrome which causes obscurity for most florists. They don't know where to go for the roadmap to success.
But, most are convinced that the roadmap includes the Internet and WWW, and I believe they are right. But this leads us directly to our other question, how do you make yourself and your products and services known and accepted on the Web?
Well, part of the solution involves creating criteria which haven't existed until now. It hasn't existed previously because the technology is still too new and the scope of florist sites on the Internet haven't been so overwhelming until now. It's your company and the appeal of it's product that you're really selling on the WWW. So, stay tuned for the answer to the second question. We're living the experiment that will deliver the answer.
Lloyd, final question... What gives (888) Live Flowers and edge over its competitors?
We feel that the broad appeal of Living Bouquets vs. Cut Flowers puts us in a unique position. Since day one, we've always been in the position of putting our product up against every thing else available to the flower buying market. And we've gotten quite accustomed to coming out on top. It's a big goal and it's a tremendous undertaking. But there are a lot of people buying flowers out there that are expecting more. Someone's gotta make sure that the flowers are going to last more than a week. We do! And our flower bouquets will remain fresh and new long after cut flowers have faded in the recipient's memory! That, not only gives us an edge, but puts us streets ahead of our rival online florists!
Try it, and with no risk to you. Buy a bouquet, and if you aren't one hundred per cent satisfied, simply return it, and we'll refund you in full. And no questions asked!
As I was leaving, Lloyd (Mick) Kennedy said, "Oh, by the way, don't forget to mention that we havent had to refund anybody's money as yet..."
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