Growing is part of this online flower retailer’s strategy – but how it’s done is the real success story.
On average, NetFlorist makes around 500 deliveries. On special days – like Mothers’ Day and Valentine’s Day – however, that number multiplies.
“Together with the growth of e-commerce, each year we continue to experience exponential growth, exceeding 25 000 deliveries this Valentine’s Day,” says NetFlorist MD Ryan Bacher.
South Africa's leading online florist and flower delivery site, has achieved mounting success, largely due its leadership’s willingness to take on challenges. That’s how, in just under 20 years, the brand has transformed from a random online challenge, to a thriving market leader.
“They are doing a great job of combining simplicity and consistency, and their brand extensions work excellently,” says Giles Shepherd, group CEO of The Brand Alive Group. “Over and above this, the experience of the brand – certainly mine and many people I have spoken to – aligns brilliantly with the promise.”
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Since expanding its offering into gifting, confectionary and bakery products and same-day personalisation of gifts, 60% of sales at NetFlorist are from flowers and 40% from non-flowers, with an average order amount of R400.
1. Keeping it fresh
As a market leaders, continuous innovation is key to NetFlorist’s future success. Bacher, therefore, is constantly on the lookout for improved business methods and new opportunities. This includes scanning international markets for new ideas.
“Constant monitoring of other local suppliers ensures we’re not outsmarted, which is critical, given the many ways consumers’ needs can be satisfied,” he says. “As there is very little customer loyalty online, the only differentiator in our industry is product and service. We have to innovate.”
NetFlorist constantly is exploring new opportunities such as:
- Staying in-house. “For many businesses, it makes sense to outsource this function. Not for us,” says Bacher. “You want to always focus on what your core business is, and the delivery of our gifts is core. It’s at the heart of our strategy.” Keep everything in-house, including fleet management has given NetFlorist full control of its supply chain.
- Diversifying. The introduction of new products into new markets, complementary to its existing business. “We’ve even gone so far as to open a confectionary operation, from strawberries dipped in chocolate, to cakes – all baked and delivered on the same day,” says Bcher. “This doesn’t scare us. We’ve had people ask ‘how do you deliver a cake?’ We deliver red roses in the middle of summer. A cake is a piece of cake.”
- Market penetration. Great businesses are the ones where there’s a really high barrier to entry, says Bacher. “It allows you to build a moat around your business that’s difficult for competitors to cross.” Delivering perishable goods has proven a challenge – especially in a hot climate, but complicated businesses are harder to imitate.
2. Making it difficult to copy
NetFlorist is one of 12 dominant online retail sites in SA and the largest internet florist in the country, according to Arthur Goldstuck, head of research company World Wide Worx.
“There are many large online florists, such as Interflora, iFlora, flowers.co.za and Simply Flowers, as well as many smaller ones,” says Goldstuck, “But these other companies will be a threat only if NetFlorist rests on its laurels and stops innovating and marketing.”
NetFlorist’s future product extensions include exploring the delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables to homes along with 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 says. “The key is to focus on the core, while at the same time be good at exploring new things.”
NetFlorist has built up a solid foundation in a number of areas:
- It has a strong awareness among its target market;
- Its database of online shoppers acts as a barrier to new entrants
- It understands the key factors for success as an online operator are different to a traditional retailer.