Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Does a Rose Sent through E-Commerce Smell as Sweet?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Does a Rose Sent through E-Commerce Smell as Sweet?

Article excerpt

Long before the Internet made long-distance commerce a snap, the flower industry had perfected the practice.

Thanks to FTD -- short for Floral Telegraph Delivery -- we could pick up the phone and order flowers for Valentine's Day, Grandma's birthday or any other occasion, assuming that they'd arrive in good order, whether the recipient was across state or a continent away.

FTD is still filling that role, although it has a lot of competition, and orders are generally placed online instead of by phone or Western Union wire.

But I wonder if the ease of placing orders that way is worth it. Wouldn't consumers be better off dealing directly with local florists?

From a cost standpoint, the answer is generally yes because as middlemen -- ProFlowers.com, FTD, Teleflora, 1-800Flowers and other national companies -- have to make money and you, the consumer, pay. Service fees could easily add $15 to $20 to an order.

That is balanced by the convenience of finding a florist that serves the recipient's town and of having (you assume) some corporate guarantee that you'll be satisfied with your purchase.

"It's a florist-by-florist thing," said FTD President Rob Apatoff. "We have remarkable 100-plus-year heritage. When you order through us, we back everything with a seven-day guarantee."

A key factor to consider is where your flowers come from. Sources are widely varied, even within each company.

Historically, FTD has been an association of independent local florists who fill orders in their own communities, and some competitors have followed suit.

But FTD, with 45,000 florists worldwide in its network, and competitors also offer direct shipments from central warehouses via FedEx or UPS.

The service is used mostly for fresh-cut flowers, although it can be selected for some arrangements as well, Apatoff said by phone from his California office. "It's your choice."

But other companies rely largely on direct shipments from several locations around the country, and 1-800Flowers even has 25 bricks- and-mortar locations.

If you know a good local florist, you might be best off calling the shop directly because you might get more for your money. That's because a percentage of the purchase price for online orders goes to the middleman and for hefty service charges, said Peter Demoleas, owner of Florals by Jason Peter in Norwood. …

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