With the advent of digital in everyday life, distances seem to have shortened considerably, almost to disappear. This also happened in the field of sale and shipment of flowers. The birth of platforms that allow the sending of a floral tribute internationally has allowed the barriers due to distance to be removed in this field as well.
Italian Flora relied on Viva Digital for the international expansion of the brand and thanks to a precise web marketing strategy and today one of the most important realities in Italy of this sector with over twenty years of experience. Together in addition to the creation of a multilingual site we have achieved the goal of reaching an interested public outside the national territory. Italianflora.com is one of our success stories because we have managed to increase not only the global network of customers but also that of suppliers in a capillary way.
Tell us a little about society, what do you do?
Sono Marco Carra and I'm here to talk about Italian Flora, a portal dedicated to home flowers that I created around 2000, therefore at the dawn of Intenet. The site aims to catalog a whole series of floral tributes. We can say that in 90% of cases it is a man who gives flowers to a woman, while in a smaller percentage we also have the case in which a woman gives flowers to another woman or a man, so this is basically our target .
We created an e-commerce set up in several languages and with a system of self-updating of the products that allows to always have a catalog in line with the seasonality and with the festivities of the moment. So we have poinsettias in December, mimosa for Mother's Day and roses for Valentine's Day, even if in reality for the whole year. the rose is the best-selling product.
What is your role within Italian Flora?
I am the founder of Italian Flora and together with a staff of colleagues I take care of the fulfillment of the flower orders we receive on the site. In addition to this I also deal with marketing, obviously in this I am supported by companies specialized in this kind of activity and I try to analyze the work done by the companies we choose in order to always obtain the best performance.
In a world that is evolving faster and faster, how do you cope with digitization?
Being a company born not with very large capital at the beginning we followed a well-defined strategy. We focused and worked mainly on the brand, on satisfied customers and on Word of mouth of these satisfied customers. This has allowed us to grow over the years.
Meanwhile the brand has been associated with large national brands, loyalty, fidelity programs and prize catalogs. From the point of view of the Italian market, this was a discovery because in this context such a thing had never happened before. We have also associated our service with some companies that have chosen Italian Flora to reward their customers or their employees, for example by giving a bouquet of roses to an employee who has achieved a certain turnover, this has led us to achieve a certain importance. nationwide.
Then came the social part, which helped us a lot, even if our priority remains always the brand together with the SEO.
To implement the positioning of Italian Flora we have created a number of websites, each of them has a different path, focuses on different queries, uses different platforms and is carried out by different hands. This network of sites led us to be indexed on multiple sales channels. One might wonder if it was a good strategy, but born in 2000 at the time this was the most popular strategy. Working on multiple websites, the attention is sometimes dispersed, but looking at it in retrospect I would do the same thing again, because every website has a small soul and objectives to pursue, which they are all managing to achieve. At the moment our network is made up of important sites, such as Florist, Online Flower Delivery and many others, all names of a certain level within our panorama while the Italian Flora brand is a symptom of an excellent job done over the last 21 years.
How was the idea of Italian Flora born?
Many years ago I worked in the tourism field and started studying an idea related to an e-commerce that could give an alternative to a service that I didn't see on the web. Indeed in those years in Italy in the home delivery flower market there was not a great choice, there was only one big brand whose name I do not mention, but which is easily understood. As we worked, we began to gnaw a small share of the market and gradually we made a name for ourselves. In 2007 we went to Mediaset and we did a great promotion with Paola Perego as a testimonial, this has brought us extreme relevance from the media point of view.
20 years ago the competition was less, now what sets you apart from your competitors?
Our path has been very particular, over the last 21 years there have been several players who have entered the market. When we started we had a single huge competitor that is a multinational with 40 years of experience. We arrived with a load of new ideas, therefore SEO on multiple portals, prize catalogs, fidelity, loyalty, branding, a whole new market compared to what had been done up to that moment.
Over the past 10 years, international players have entered. That thanks to foreign funds, too, entered the Italian market, this has meant that widen the range of people who send a bouquet of flowers to their home ordering it online, he broadened his vision by sending the message that it is possible to send flowers to your home quickly. The players who arrived in the last period, unlike the great player of the 2000s, are far ahead from a digital point of view and you always have to learn new concepts to keep up. These are always great challenges to play.
What is the strength of Italian Flora?
We remain firm on our workhorse that it is delivery included in the price, which nobody does. The market has expanded and this point of paid delivery or fast delivery are bonuses that are paid extra when shopping in the cart, it is put at the bottom of the cart as a push. We do this by default. This is interpreted positively by our customers, in facti Italian Flora has shipping included in the price, the others for a fee, shipping that is charged according to the speed of the execution of the order or according to the country where the delivery is destined. We, on the other hand, do an all-inclusive package.
We delivered flowers at home even outside of Italy. We have recently built one new digital platform italianflora.com with a landing page series that we are optimizing the SEO side and that we are slowly letting them mature. The authority of the site will play its part. What we strategically thought 21 years ago is being re-proposed in November 2021.
Brand and authority on search engines, dedicated and written text in a certain way. So the user seeing our reviews and what we write will be able to appreciate us.
We are already receiving orders for countries where we didn't normally deliver. Our strength is to include delivery in the price. So this is a little bit ours strategy for internationalization.
Regarding internationalization, do you have any goals already in mind?
It is a project in progress, we are moving forward. For now we take care of the SEO part, we were born with 4 languages but soon, thanks to a splendid tool, we will try to work organically also on other languages. Initially we will start with some European languages, such as Finnish, Polish or Hungarian, then we will go to work on about twenty European languages and then expand and shift the attention also to Asian languages. This process will obviously take some time as we need to give Google time to process the growth of the site well.
Looking to the future where do you see Italian Flora in 5/10 years?
We in the meantime we are expanding our supplier base, this will take us about 8 months. We are selecting our suppliers on a national basis, for each country we are selecting from 6 to 7 suppliers who will physically take care of the physical home delivery of the final customer, in Fiji rather than in New Zealand rather than in Venezuela. Wherever flowers can be delivered, we will have partners worthy of our name in Italy. Our goal is to become authoritative abroad as much as we are in Italy.
I must say that everything is proceeding rather quickly, we are already receiving the first orders from countries that were not previously part of our usual circle, for example yesterday we received an order from Nigeria, a few days ago from Togo. In the span of 5 years I see a very cohesive network that is able to respond to requests in the shortest possible time, obviously taking into account the time zone, providing an increasingly useful and positive service to our customers.
I also expect the foreign market to overtake the Italian one. Probably in the short term our Italian turnover will be surpassed by the foreign one.
Some may think it was all easy, but maybe it wasn't. If you want to tell us the major difficulties, even at the beginning of the project. To give a kind of message to those who want to get to your levels.
We haven't gotten to where we want to go yet, so we cannot be satisfied yet, but our project leads us to hope to always conquer new markets. Difficult moments? Well, we didn't have any details why we have always studied a strategy that in a suitable way would lead us to take a bigger step from time to time. We started with a website, then 10 websites. By creating this base we made one selection of 1200 flower shops in Italy inserted in the platform that we have created where we geolocate the position of the florist with respect to the final destination of the delivery through the postcode. In this way we can safely make shipments in a couple of hours throughout Italy.
Now we start again after years with a targeted selection of partners all over the world. The work is long, as mentioned before we have estimated 8 months of work but this will take us to a higher level.
Obviously the patience to reach our goals step by step led us to achieve the desired result. There are always difficulties, I don't want to look like someone who makes everything pass as if it were simple, but by doing things well and with the right pace, the results are achieved. We know that we can still grow a lot, so we hope that together with the help of our agencies digital marketing we manage to grow more and more.
Do you see any elements in the future that can be optimized? Any technology or possible innovations?
So we have an already consolidated business model, the supplier network, however, is a separate partner. We can receive an order and deliver it quickly, but we cannot expect the other side to be aligned with our levels. However, we can be a tool that leads many small shops, both in Italy and in the world, to have a continuous flow of lanyards that can help them digitize at least a little. I am speaking in particular of shops in slightly less fortunate countries, which, knowing us, may have such a flow of orders as to allow them to invest in a digitization process. We manage an infinite number of points of sale and the ideal is that all of these are in step with the times and with technology.
To stay on the subject, we received an order in South Korea that was not in the capital, where we are super covered, but in a secondary city. In this case, a special agreement is made with a local supplier who can serve not that specific city but also an area. This is how the network becomes more and more widespread based also on the orders that arrive. That specific partner, by receiving more orders from us too, may be able to embark on a digitization path.
Marco would you like to leave a final message? Any advice that can be useful to your fellow entrepreneurs?
To all of us entrepreneurs I give a very humble advice, of always make an analysis of your own actions and activities on a monthly basis, Not leaving anything to chance. Studying and finding a vision that will then be followed and then don't give up but move on.
Also listen to more people because different people can give you ideas that you hadn't thought of. Do not have a single issue vision but surround yourself with people who can give useful advice.