While hundreds of organisations are trying to find ways to move their physical operations on to the Internet, online retailer NetFlorist plans to open 20 bricks-and-mortar flower markets in major shopping malls over the next few years.

As South Africa’s largest floral and gifting supplier, NetFlorist leads the online pack with this development – the rest of the country’s online retailers have kept their business strictly within the virtual realm.
Speaking at the Online Retailing Conference Exhibition, NetFlorist MD Ryan Bacher comments: “Online shopping in South Africa is becoming more popular, but the tendency to shop at malls is still more prevalent. We are confident that NetFlorist has the potential and capacity to serve a larger market that incorporates online shoppers and those who do their spending at physical retail centres.”
NetFlorist has made a success of online retailing, with 30% year-on-year growth and annual sales of over R50-million. The real-time flower markets, though, are projected to increase turnover by R100-million and greatly increase the company’s customer base, which currently stands at more than 100 000 shoppers.
Aside from the significant growth in business that they offer, the flower markets will provide many more employment opportunities. Their presence will increase profitability by providing better economies of scale and affording NetFlorist the opportunity to share facilities with complementary retailers. The markets will also make NetFlorist’s premium-quality flowers and exclusive products more accessible, particularly to those who prefer not to shop online.
“NetFlorist’s branding and identity will be carried over into the flower markets,” says Bacher. “These aspects will be incorporated into the design of the markets – situated in the passages of the malls, the markets will resemble stylish flower sheds.”
A forerunner to NetFlorist’s move into physical retail real estate was a partnership established in December last year, which saw Pick n Pay selling NetFlorist’s flowers at three of its stores in Centurion, Bedfordview and Fourways. NetFlorist also started selling its wares at a flower market in Atholl Square shortly thereafter.