Flowers by Design is a tiny three-person shop based in Easingwold, North Yorkshire. It sells high-quality, hand-assembled bouquets and last year, it put itself on the internet for the first time. Since then, its turnover has increased by 30%, with around £2,000-worth of flowers sold online every month. Tesco has even listed the company in its web shopping guide.
Online orders now come from customers all over Britain. They are generally bigger than the usual shop order, averaging £40 compared to £20-£25. Delivery is by courier and is included in the price quoted on the web site. Most customers are individuals but the company is looking to develop corporate clients. It also intends to introduce date reminders, account histories and even personalised promotions to the site.
The company was convinced of the virtues of e-commerce by one of its regular customers, Jason Finch, director of local internet consultancy port80. The site (www.flowersbydesign.co.uk) was completed by port80 in four months at the reduced cost of £7,000 - Finch was keen to show what the internet can do for small businesses. His company now takes a 7.5% cut of each online purchase.
'It's certainly made a very big difference to our business,' says the shop's senior partner, Celia Page. 'We'd never really thought about the internet before but we've been pleasantly surprised how it's worked out.' Flowers by Design has recently taken on an extra employee to deal with online orders.