Not all relay is created equal.


Cocoa Flower, located in the heart of historic Chester, opened for business on Friday 13th May 2005. Far from being unlucky, the daring leap to give up their successful management careers and start their own business has paid dividend for Clare and Peter Nugent, as the shop continues to thrive.

The business, which enjoys an enviable location surrounded by Chester’s famous roman walls and the King Charles Tower, has been a member of Direct2florist since its early days.

“We’ve been around for the best part of 13 years and with Direct2florist for nearly 12,” explains Clare. “We joined them very early on when they were just setting up, when orders were faxed from florist to florist. In fact, only the other day I dusted our fax machine! We’ve got a long relationship with them and it’s fair to say it has been a beneficial one.”


Freedom

When asked what Clare and Peter like about Direct2florist and the way they work:

“We really like they way they allow us to have our independence – we can be as creative as we want to be, rather than having to work to strict design rules. There’s nobody telling us how to arrange flowers, like other relay companies do. We’re not restricted. That’s why we first got involved with them."

“They’re also a great company to work with. We get paid the same day for products that we send, so from a cashflow perspective it’s amazing. It’s really helpful for a start-up or small business to be paid for the flowers that we’re using, when we use them. They’re also incredibly efficient and lovely people to work with, who do a good, honest job. We’ve always appreciated that within our business so it’s great to work with like-minded people. They’re on the same page as us.”

Returning to the point Clare made earlier about independence and creativity, does she think that helps Cocoa Flowers to protect the profitability of the business?

“Of course, yes, but it helps us to deliver a better product to customers too. A close friend of mine, who is with another relay company, can’t believe how much flower value we get to work with on every order from Direct2florist. We get a fabulous flower content value – it’s the best. The flexibility allows us to do a very, very good job! And we love using unusual flowers too.”

Growing Online Business

Any florist Working with Direct2florist has a dedicated page on its consumer-facing website – complete with full e-commerce functionality. Cocoa Flowers is leveraging this by linking their own personal website –www.cocoaflower.co.uk – directly to it. Doing this saves having to build an independent e-commerce site, which involves plenty of work and endless headaches, and means important topics such as compliance, data handling and online payment solutions are looked after. It also means online business can start flowing in very quickly.

“The increase in online business that we’ve seen in the last 18 months has been unbelievable,” says Clare. “It has been exceptional, especially given there are another five florists that cover the Chester postcode areas. We’re growing significantly year-on-year and the beauty is that business is year-round. We were looking at our sales figures this morning and the number of orders we received in January were greater than December, despite the Christmas peak and a generally strong December overall. There doesn’t seem to be any logical sense to that fact, but I’m not complaining! I guess it goes to show that the marketing Direct2florist is undertaking is working.”

Clare adds that the Direct2florist app is also an important tool for the business.

“Peter uses the app when he’s out delivering so that he can mark all deliveries as completed, the minute he’s done them. He sometimes takes photos of recipients too, but it’s generally the ability to communicate that orders have been delivered that we find really boosts our service and keeps people happy. That’s really the reason why we’ve got 340 five-star reviews on our page. Everybody’s impressed by great reviews, so it helps us to build business. The Direct2florist mechanism for feedback is very simple and quick, which customers like.”.


Spreading the World

With a dozen years of membership in the bag, Clare says that she would highly recommend other florists join Direct2florist.

“We’re really happy with the partnership. Anybody thinking about joining are welcome to call us for an honest discussion. We even offered information to somebody who is actually a competitor! But we’re nice people so didn’t mind!"

“I’ve been in floristry for 30 years – I was really young when I started! – so I know the other relay companies inside out and have seen so many changes along the way. But you just can’t beat being paid the same day. I just wish more people would understand that not all relay is the same.”

“We’ve been around for the best part of 13 years and with Direct2florist for nearly 12,” explains Clare. “We joined them very early on when they were just setting up, when orders were faxed from florist to florist. In fact, only the other day I dusted our fax machine! We’ve got a long relationship with them and it’s fair to say it has been a beneficial one.”


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