First things, first, WTF are floral order gathers and wire services?!?
You've probably heard of common brands like FTD, Teleflora, Petals, or 1800-Roses. There are hundreds of brands popping up, whose sole purpose is to offer floral order gatherers and wire services.
Essentially, their job is to bridge the gap between the customer and the florist. But as a Flower Boss, it's super valuable to dig in, go behind the scenes and really understand what's involved when it comes to floral order gatherers and wire services, as a business owner.
History of Floral Order Gatherers and Wire Services
One of the most common floral order gatherers is Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD), founded in 1910. The company actually started as a partnership between 13 flower shops across the United States, looking to expand their offering and solve a very real problem for customers; that is, to be able to send flowers to a loved one in a different location.
Back in the day, that whole thing was done via telegraph. (WTF even is that?!?!)
And, over the last 100 years, technology has obviously evolved a lot but each of these relay services or wire networks is still solving a very similar problem.
In its most basic form, floral order gatherers and wire services are bridging the gap between the customer and the local florist business, gathering orders (mostly online) and distributing them to florists around the world.
What Florists Need to Know
When we bought the flower shop back in 2015, there was an affiliation already in place with Petals (part of the Teleflora family). The shop's website was run through the Petals platform and, early on in my flowering career, we did a huge amount of orders through the Petals network.
Total transparency: I thought we had to be part of a relay service or wire network. I assumed it was part of the plan and was a must for legitimate florists around the world.
But, as we started to get $$$ deposited into our accounts and we spent more and more time trying to decipher the monthly order value and revenue statements, the more questions we had.
We started to dig deeper because we really wanted to understand what the deal was with floral order gatherers and wire services. What's actually happening here and how much money are we making (or not making) from this opportunity??
Here's the thing I wish someone had told me about floral order gatherers and wire services: every flower business owner gets to decide for themselves if they want to participate in a relay network or partner with an order gatherer.
There really is no 'right' or 'wrong' answer here and it's up to each individual to decide what's best for them.
To help you make an informed decision, here are a few things I've learned through my journey...
What Problems Do Floral Order Gatherers and Relay Services Solve for Florists
In essence, the premise of the relay network is the same as it's always been: connect the customer with a local flower shop. It's the 'how' that's evolved over the past 100+ years.
Back in 1910, when FTD was founded, it was a group of local florists working together to support each other. And to solve a very real problem for its customers. Before the days of the internet, how was a customer supposed to connect with an out of town florist – the idea would be just too overwhelming to consider.
But, Aas technology has evolved, as more and more customers are shopping online, the way floral order gatherers and relay services are showing up is evolving too.
Essentially, at this moment in time, they are filling the role of marketing + sales for the local flower shop.
The relay service is the one investing in Google Ads, setting up a basic website with an online catalogue and being that "front of house" solution that customers are looking for.
The relay service then 'wires' the orders to a local florist and the local florist is required to fulfil the customer order and do the delivery.
In exchange for doing that front end marketing, the relay service will take about 30% of the sale as their commission.
Looking for a step by step solution to getting your Google Ads + Online Calogue sorted? Come join Flower Boss Bootcamp and get access to our step by step trainings, replicate website and everything you need to level up your digital marketing game. Click here to learn more.
Let's Go Deeper: Is Joining a Relay Service Right for Your Flower Business?
With every week that goes by, it feels like there are more and more different relay services and wire networks popping up. And yes, there are lots of horror stories of bad customer experiences and disappointed clients.
With more and more customers ordering flowers online, having a strong online presence is an integral piece of the puzzle. And with the layers of detail required to get Google Ads + a functioning online catalogue sorted, for many local flower shops, being part of a relay network can feel like an easy win for the local floral designer.
But, when it comes to answering the question "Is joining a relay service right for your flower business?" it's worth taking a construction look at the pros and cons of their offering.
And that's precisely what I'm doing in this week's podcast episode. We're diving into all things FTS, Petals, Teleflora and going into the nitty-gritty of floral relay services and wire networks.
Inside This Week's Podcast Episode You'll Learn:
✓ What are relay services and wire networks and what role do they play for flower shops?
✓ How do you know if a relay service or order gatherer is right for your flower business?
✓ Why might being part of a relay service be good for business (or not)?
✓ 3 things every floral designer needs to know before signing on with a relay service.
Listen to the full episode here
Full Episode Transcript