April 8, 2014, 1:37 PM

Finding a better way to sell flowers to businesses

Floral network Fleurop AG brings its more than 6,500 florists shops into electronic purchasing, helping to more than double online B2B orders between 2010 and 2013.

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A few years ago, the thousands of florist shops connected to the Germany-based Fleurop AG floral network were facing a mix of troubles stemming from increased competition from sellers of flowers as well as other types of gifts, and a tendency of corporate gift buyers to reduce the number of suppliers they buy from.

In response, Fleurop set out to make it easier for companies to purchase flowers and related gift items through its network, where online buyers could still receive personalized service from individual florists when ordering gifts for clients or employees.

Under a former selling system, Fleurop’s network of florists had to process billing materials manually for each of its corporate customers, with payments often settled by cash in local florist shops, according to Achim T. Oberhauser, Fleurope’s head of corporate business. He spoke about the company’s e-commerce strategy at a recent Ariba Live conference hosted by Ariba, a unit of SAP AG that provide B2B Internet-based network services.

He explained that Fleurop also needed to develop a way to let buyers customize their orders, such as by inserting personal greetings to recipients of flowers and other gifts.

Fleurop developed a customized product catalog that connected with customers online through the Internet-based Ariba Network. Buyers could click on the image of a products in the catalog to personalize it with a greeting and automatically generate a purchase order through the buyer’s own financial software. Once a florist receives an order through the network, the system automatically generates an electronic invoice and e-mails it to the customer.

Between 2010 and 2013, the system has resulted in an increase in total sales of 107%, Oberhauser said. By comparison, sales not including online orders increased by 23% over the same period.

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