Have you ever spent a small fortune on having flowers delivered, only to find out later that the bouquet was nothing like what you saw online? Frustrations like this aside, the online floral industry is worth $34 billion thanks to a handful of national websites that dominate the space. In response, Los Angeles-based BloomNation recently launched a free online platform to serve local florists who are at risk of going under.
The new Florist Business Center powers more than 2,000 florists coast to coast, who can use the technology to attract customers and fulfill orders. Late last week, BloomNation also announced $1.65 million in funding from Andreesen Horowitz, Spark Capital, Chicago Ventures, CrunchFund and Muckerlab, which will be used for marketing and more.
“Our funding will provide us financial resources to hire more technology engineers to continue to build an amazing flower delivery service for both the consumer and florist,” says BloomNation CEO Farod Shoraka. “Our goal is to re-create the concept of walking into any flower shop online.”
In addition to giving florists an e-commerce platform, BloomNation also seeks to address the problem of orders that don’t live up to what’s promised. A tool called BloomSnap lets florists share photos of arrangements with customers before they are delivered to the gift recipient. Now, when someone orders from a florist’s fully-functional, BloomNation-powered online store, they’ll also be able to judge the quality of the order. This type of transparency is unmatched by other providers in the industry.
“Large middlemen marketers like 1-800-Flowers thrive on the fact that many local florists do not have the expertise, time or resources to build their business online,” Shoraka says. The Florist Business Center, on the other hand, provides all the tools a small shop needs to compete, without hardware needs or upfront costs. “By simply creating a profile on BloomNation, florists will have the ability to create their own e-commerce optimized website, have a custom CRM platform to market to their customers and a complete point of sale system to place orders in-store and on the phone.”
BloomNation is a company with deep roots in Los Angeles, since all three of its founders are locals who went through the MuckrackerLab incubator together. Shoraka is grateful for support from local entrepreneurs and mentors as the company heads into its third year, citing their help as a factor in the company’s success. The resources provided by the Los Angeles community have proven key for BloomNation, but there’s one other thing that’s been particularly helpful to the business. “It doesn’t hurt to be part of one of the largest markets for flowers in the country,” Shoraka says.