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A rosy online business: Roses Only

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Online business is booming and for developing a brand, the internet has much to offer small businesses. A strong online presence with a convenient website helps to ensure customers think only of your business when they are searching for services.

Using the internet as a sales tool and boxed flowers as the marketing instrument, Roses Only has built a brand that dominates Australian online flower sales.

Men want three things when they shop for flowers, according to founder James Stevens: speed, convenience and roses. Delivering the last of these has never been an issue for Stevens, the product of a family of florists who have operated in Sydney since 1967. It is his ability to deliver the other two imperatives that has seen Stevens and Roses Only revolutionise the flower market.

Roses Only has seen rapid expansion since it was formed in 1995. The business expanded into fresh fruit delivery in 2005. Stevens, restless with the traditional sales approach of florists, sensed an opportunity.

“I saw that flowers were overpriced,” he says, noting that today’s price of approximately $79 for a dozen roses is similar to 20 years ago. “The feeling is that it’s still luxurious, but it is affordable.”

Of course, there are competitors. International giants such as Interflora and 1800 Flowers serve huge markets, but Stevens always felt there was a market for a well-packaged, consistent brand that focused on the flower of choice: roses. “There are so many things that go wrong with a generic flower delivery. You might not like the design or the flowers they’ve put in, or the style or colours … We’ve taken out all those issues. You know exactly what you’re getting with us.”

Stevens is a big believer in brands. “I believe my brand can be thought of if you’re thinking about buying flowers and I want it to be top of mind.”

Asked to set a goal for Roses Only, Stevens once commented that he strived for a business reputation akin to jewellery icon Tiffany & Co – that is, it has not been compromised.

“It would be nice to have this notional sense that the brand can grow for the next 100 years, but at the same time the realism sets in and you say, ‘Well, who’s going to run this thing?’”

In the meantime, he will concentrate on doing what he does best – selling roses … and gerberas, tulips, irises, orchids and lilies.

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Published on: Saturday, April 09, 2011

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