NetFlorist’s Story: How it all began

At a recent forum at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) the NetFlorist’s Story was relayed by Ryan Bacher, MD and co-founder of NetFlorist. He also explained how they went from being ignorant about all things flowers (except for roses) to being the leading online florist retailer in South Africa.

Here is the YouTube video of Ryan Bacher’s speech on how NetFlorist began:

Nowadays, starting an e-commerce company is difficult – there is a reluctance to compete with established and successful websites, said Bacher.

However, Bacher said any online business would have to resolve a challenge for their customers in order to become successful:

“If you can create a niche and solve a problem using online in South Africa, you will fly.” – Ryan Bacher

That is just what they did, they created a niche and solved a problem.

NeTFLORIST’S STORY AND GROWTH

NetFlorist was launched in 1999 as a test case for an e-commerce company in South Africa, when online retail was still in the early stages of development. Bacher said they knew nothing about flowers and here there was very little initial focus on fulfilment, strategy, industry, market research, and marketing, HR, technology or the product.

The team built a basic website, with very little data and relied heavily on e-mail markerting, which was still a novel form of communication at the time. Only when the site generated R30 000 in turnover in its first month, slightly more than an average established florist would make, did the team realise there was a market for the business.

TRANSITION TO RETAILER

NetFlorist had to change their mindset in order to transition from e-commerce company to retailer. View this video to learn how Bacher and team managed to get it right:

As NetFlorist matured, the company made the important transition from internet start-up to retailer, and had to consequently learn key retailing theories such as margin and mark up: “Retail is about the product that you sell. The technology is not all that important.”

The business expanded from 11 to 150 employees in 2007 as it brought its suppliers, drivers and florists in-house. “Selling the product online is only one part of the journey. The logistics of delivery are difficult and you can very easily become over reliant on suppliers,” Bacher said. Today almost all successful e-commerce retailers in South Africa have their own warehouses to control distribution.

The company now sources 70% of its flowers in South Africa and the other 30% from the rest of Africa.

THE WAY FORWARD – EXPLOIT OR EXPLORE

As NetFlorist’s story unrolled and the business expanded, we had to reach a decision as whether to continue to exploit its current revenue streams or explore new ones, Bacher explained.

“As there is very little customer loyalty online, the only differentiator in our industry is product and service. We have to innovate,” he said.

Since expanding our offering into gifting, confectionary and bakery products and sameday personalisation of gifts, 60% of sales are from flowers and 40% from non-flowers, with an average order amount of R400.

Future product extensions include an exploratory foray into fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to homes and international deliveries with local offerings set to launch in Singapore, Malaysia and India.

“We have to do things that are slightly different and difficult to copy as a way to build a moat around the business, or we will immediately attract imitators,” Bacher said. “The key is to focus on the core, while at the same time be good at exploring new things.”

A few photos of then and now:

The old logo vs the new

The old logo vs the new

 

The vehicles then and now

The vehicles then and now

Today, Bacher is known as the ‘Grandfather of the internet’ in South Africa for his innovation and for leading the way with e-commerce. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for NetFlorist!

 

Ways to spoil dad for Father’s Day

Dad: A son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love.

Our dads have always been our superheroes. Bragging about him being the strongest and being our bodyguard. He fixes everything around the house, because handymen are useless when it comes to his skills. Everyone talks about his mad braai skills and how he loves his corny jokes. Yes, he is simply the best and irreplaceable. So the question is:

How do I spoil dad for Father’s Day?

Never fear when NetFlorist is near! Father’s Day is on Sunday, the 19th of June. We have the most awesome gift ideas that will fill your dad’s heart with absolute appreciation and happiness on this very special day.

Father's Day Gift Ideas

Amazing Father’s Day gifts to spoil dad with!

Where to start with dad’s gift? Here are some gift ideas for you to pick from.

For the cool and funky father:

We would suggest a gift jam-packed with awesome goodies that will bowl him over like the Man Crates or Bro Buckets. They are usually filled with mouth-watering snacks, distinguished liquor and gadgets. It all depends on what your cool dad would love. You will be spoiled for choice with our amazing Father’s Day range!

Father's Day Gifts

Bro Buckets and Man Crates filled with cool gadgets, snacks and liquor!

 

For the Distinguished dad:

If your dad loves a classic and authentic  gift: A personalised liquor or gift with his name on, will definitely make you his favourite! Pick a drink which he will love from our personalised range and make it special by adding his name or a short message! Or a distinguised cigar gift will warm his heart with love!

Distinguished gifts for father

Either a cigar gift or personalised wine will warm dad’s heart!

For the dad with green fingers:

If your dad can make a wonderland of any garden and can always be found pillaging through the bushes and plants to make it pretty; then a plant would be the best gift to give him. A beautiful cacti or bonsai would brighten his living space or his workplace; making it a wonderland as much inside as it is outside!

Plants for Dad

His green fingers will have a blast with these plants.

We might find our prince, but our dads will always be our king. Whatever gift you want to get dad for this Father’s Day, NetFlorist has it all to make dad happy and to make you his favourite kid! View our Father’s Day Range and get him the best gift ever!

Flower Meaning 101 – What do flower types say about how you feel?

From birthdays, to anniversaries, to simple gestures of love and gratitude, there is just something about flowers which make them the ultimate gift. While receiving a lovely bouquet of beautiful, sweet smelling flowers is always a real treat, have you ever stopped to think about the idea of flower meaning? In other words, did you know that each flower type has its own unique meaning? Before you go grab the first flower arrangement you see, read on to find out more about the symbolic meaning of your favourite flowers.

flower meaning

Tulips:

Known for their petals which come in a variety of colours, tulips are one of the most popular flowers around. The meaning does differ depending on the colour, but generally, tulips represent  comfort and perfect love.

Orchids:

These rare blossoms are known for their beauty and longevity, and look great in any setting. The orchid is the ultimate gift for someone special, as it symbolises elegance, strength and love. They are also available in a wide range of vibrant colours, each with their own meaning.

Carnations:

These cheerful and affordable flower delights are perfect for any occasion, and represent new love. Therefore, you should go ahead and liven up that blooming romance with some carnations!

Roses:

Roses are classic and gorgeous, making them the subject of many poems and love songs. It therefore doesn’t take much to work out the flower meaning of these beauties. You guessed it- they represent LOVE! If you are looking for a truly romantic flower gift, look no further than a bouquet of vibrant red roses. While you’re at it, have a look at the other rose colours available, such as white roses, pink roses, and even black roses!

Sunflowers:

With their sunny and bright appearance, who wouldn’t be bowled over by a bunch of sunflowers arriving at the door? These sunny floral wonders are said to represent happiness and loyalty, as well as pure thoughts.

All in all, flowers are full of meaning and can say a lot about how you feel about someone. Next time you are trying to decide which flowers to surprise somebody special with, think about the deeper meaning which will make your flower gift all the more special. Now that we have clued you up, we suggest you head on over to NetFlorist and check out our amazing range of flower arrangements, for every occasion!

Peak Occasion: A day in the life of a NF Employee

WONDERING WHAT A DAY LOOKS LIKE IN THE LIFE OF A NETFLORIST EMPLOYEE DURING A special, PEAK OCCASION?

Eventful… One word that pretty much sums up what it’s like to be a NetFlorist employee over a peak occasion like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day! Over these special, peak occasions, things can get a little crazy and we pretty much transform to Jack’s of all trades and masters of EVERY LITTLE THING!

Adjusting to circumstances we aren’t use to, making friends and memories along the way. Also battling weather elements, long days and sleepless nights (yup, we can totes survive on less than 4 hours of sleep over a peak occasion), millions of ribbons in hundreds of colours, flowers, vases and pots in any shape, size and colour and much, much more whilst still keeping our humour and sanity (somewhat) here’s a peek at what it takes to make every peak occasion a success!

Firstly, we have to mention our drivers that go above and beyond to make sure your flowers and gifts get delivered to your loved ones on time. Vans and vehicles are packed and ready to go at 5am in the morning and are checked out by staff from other departments so they can make their deliveries as soon as possible. Stress not though, they don’t start knocking on doors from 5am. Instead they plot their route and then travel to their first destination where they wait until a reasonable hour to knock on the door and present someone special with something that’ll make the rest of their day.

In order to deliver over 22,000 orders, we enlist the help of temporary staff. Some temporary drivers take leave from their permanent jobs each and every year to join the fleet of drivers over the peak occasion. They’re joined by part-time students and even home executives. Hundreds of temp drivers and NetFlorist vehicles are seen in masses on the roads and in our very little parking lot to deliver each and every gift.

Secondly, the NetFlorist bunch, no matter which department they work in, become hamper packers, call centre agents, dispatch officers, drivers and florists. Trust me when I say that folding a box and tying a ribbon is much harder than you would ever think it could be. Many trials and errors go into tying the perfect ribbon to make sure that our gifts look perfect when it arrives at your loved ones’ front doors. Even our managing director gets his hands dirty and helps out wherever he can! Yes, we personally saw him tie ribbons, fold boxes and check-out drivers at 5am on Friday morning! When a peak occasion comes around, it doesn’t matter who you are and what you do, you go out of your way to ensure that things run as smooth as possible.

Thirdly, we face many challenges over peak occasions, but nothing we can’t handle. These challenges include the blokes at Eskom cutting the power which trips the designers’ and developer’s computers (it doesn’t auto-save) and call centre going offline and not being able to help customers. Everything pretty much goes haywire when the power is out. We had two solar powered lamps in our high-value safe to have a little light when packing certain products for the gifts. The haywire part being that we had to ensure that we take the milk chocolate truffles and not the coconut ones and vice versa. In the semi-light all the wrapping colours look alike making you think you picked the blue ones and then realising you really took the green ones!

Another challenge adding to the madness; a fuse blew on our flower cold room, lowering the temperature significantly causing some of our flowers to freeze. We had to write off R30,000 worth of stock! Very sad for the floral folk, but yet they still managed to keep their smiles and stay positive!

So much happiness in one photo!

So much happiness in one photo!

Despite all of this, it doesn’t stop us from going above and beyond our call of duty to make sure all of our orders get to their recipients safe and sound. On just one day alone we’ve had two of our drivers survive attempted armed hijackings (one in Jo’burg and one in Durbs). Not to worry, they are both safe and sound, keeping their cool and getting away. One driver was also taken hostage earlier! A recipient wasn’t happy with the balloon she received, got into the passenger’s side of the driver’s car and made him wait with her until another driver brought a balloon to her liking. He also made it home safe and sound :-).

Clarity also results from a lack of sleep; you realise that you are working alongside Gru (Despicable Me Supervillain turned instant dad)! Apparently a lack of sleep has a way of revealing the fact that you work with an animated character in a children’s movie! As seen in the photo below:

Flowers and NetFlorist humor

From flowers to gifts and the things that saved us.

Other exciting things also happen during this time. To ensure staff safety we prevented them from travelling late at night or too early in the morning by allowing them to sleep over in a building we hired next to us. We provided them with mattresses and they brought along their pillows and blankies that we gifted them with last year. It was definitely a building full of loud snoring, so no alarm clocks were needed the next morning if you did happen to get in a wink of sleep.

When a peak occasion falls over a weekend, it can be particularly difficult for some of our staff and managers due to religious reasons. But, despite these difficulties, they still make their way to work, every day – some even having to walk 20km just to get to work! Even if they are not allowed to chat work over the weekend, they are still here, offering moral support, ensuring everything is in order and that we’re not all losing our minds!

During this time, it’s not always all blood, sweat and tears. Everyone from every department gets together and we have a blast creating new friendships with colleagues from other departments and learning new skills. Nothing brings a company closer together than laughing while learning a skill from another department and finally understanding and appreciating their work. Between buckets of KFC, pizzas, wood wool, ribbons, tulips, lilies and roses, vases and baskets, friendships are formed. Sore feet, aching backs and tired minds are forgotten and we all become one big happy bunch!

New friendships were formed due to packing hampers!

New friendships were formed due to packing hampers!

The smiles through the tiredness

The smiles through the tiredness

PS. We also celebrated an employee’s very special birthday over this busy peak occasion.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

SOME INTERESTING STATS:

  • We experienced a 1000% growth this Mother’s Day (yes, three zeros).
  • On our busiest day, we took one order every 6 seconds.
  • We had somewhere near 800 people working for us over this period in all the hubs.
  • 22 380 deliveries done countrywide.
  • We had over 200 000 people visit our site (web and mobi).
  • 220 temp drivers used countrywide, aside from our normal drivers.
  • Over 800 employees were working over this period in all the hubs.
  • 3065 meals were served to staff.
  • 1400 delivery sheets were made.
  • 10 330 calls were made to the call centre, meaning each call centre agent had to roughly take 345 calls.
  • Call centre received 5 378 emails and processed a whopping 804 orders, whilst handling other duties, as well.

Wedding bouquets and traditions

Why do we have wedding bouquets?

We have celebrated weddings with long and beautiful wedding dresses, wedding bouquets, veils that cover the blushing bride’s face and the bridal party supporting the bride and groom at the altar while vowing to love one another for eternity. But, where these things come from? Where did the whole wedding bouquet and wedding flowers come from? Here at NetFlorist we just love our flowers, so it is important for us to have the ins and outs of all things flowers. So, for today we are going to share the history of wedding bouquets and the tossing thereof with you. Also, what to keep in mind when choosing your flower types and colours.

 

Wedding bouquets:

In ancient times a bouquet of strong smelling herbs and spices were carried by the bride to drive away evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. During Roman times, the tradition expanded to include flowers in the bouquet, as a symbol of fertility. The bride and groom wore floral garlands to signify their new life and the hope of fertility. The bride adds her floral garland to her wedding bouquet whereas the groom adds the same flowers as the bridal bouquet to his buttonhole – stemming from the medieval times of the Knight wearing the traditional colours of the lady, declaring his love for her.

In the olden days where superstitions etc. were popular belief, the bride was considered to have tons of good luck. Thus started the tradition of tossing the bridal bouquet.

Order Wedding Bouquets at NetFlorist

Perfect Wedding Bouquets for the blushing bride and her bridesmaids!

Tossing of bridal bouquet:

Being the bride and having tons of luck also meant that you where the target of people wanting a piece of whatever luck you had. This ended up badly as sometimes the gown and flowers where torn piece by piece from the bride by the crowd. As a distraction technique, brides later on started a tradition, that stems from England, to toss her bouquet into the crowd and make a run for it. Today, in a more civilised era, the bride tosses the bouquet at the reception to the single women that form a crowd, with the belief that whoever catches it will be the next to get married.

When choosing flowers for your wedding, the type of flower today may not be as important as finding the flower who’s colour matches your colour scheme perfectly.

 

Beautiful arrangements of wedding flowers

Beautiful floral table arrangements that will make a statement!

Choosing the perfect bouquet of flowers:

In the old days when thinking of flowers for your wedding, like the bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids and the centrepieces, one tended to choose flowers whose meanings had some significance to you. While flowers with a love connection, like roses and carnations, were (and still is) popular, there are many other flowers that have powerful meanings like daffodils (new beginnings), iris (faith), and calla lily (holiness) to consider.

Colour also plays a significant role in a flower’s meaning too. The favourite wedding flower, the rose, has different meanings depending on the colour. Red roses symbolise passion, the bridal white rose means happy love and the yellow one signifies joy and a promise of new beginnings. The same goes for the chrysanthemum: the red symbolises love; the white kind symbolises loyal love and truth.

Weddings are something special as it marks the start of a new beginning with your significant other. Choosing the flowers for your bouquet is something that needs to be thought about, although it shouldn’t be the very axis your world turns around. Now that you know why there are bouquets, why they are tossed and what are the significance behind them, go forth and choose beautiful flowers from the NetFlorist range that will be perfect for your wedding, from rustic to classic – we have them!