Flowers for you... and you only

Flowers for you... and you only

A local florist is taking a chance on fidelity.

At You And No Other, a new online florist here, each customer can send flowers to only one person for the rest of his life.

To ensure that customers do not cheat, algorithms check a sender's details against those in the firm's database. So, if a customer tries to send flowers under a different name to a different recipient, but does so from the same address, for instance, a red flag pops up.

The sender will then get a call.

"We'll just have a chat with him, and tell him something has come up with his order. If we are not convinced, we will refund him the money," said co-founder Augustine Goh. He left his job in marketing to start the business this week with two friends - Mr Vincent Pang, 29, a former tax consultant, and Mr Jason Chia, also 29, a lawyer. They have so far invested $25,000 to set up and market their website, design gift wrapping, and rent a cold room.

What happens if a customer remarries after a divorce, or gets dumped and finds love again?

"Unfortunately, it's our policy. It's just one person you can send flowers to, and that's it. We can't help them," said Mr Goh, 27, who said the idea is for recipients to "feel like they are the one".

Mr Goh, who first discussed the idea with his two partners when they were students at the University of Bristol, said: "I used to have a girlfriend and she used to complain when I gave her flowers, wondering if she was the only one. This is a way to show someone that you truly love her."

The staff they poached from major florist chains to arrange flowers for them would also recount getting orders from one man to three or four women on Valentine's Day, he said.

"The flower market may be saturated but no one new has come on board recently to change the way flowers are sold," he added. So far, the company - which is banking on Valentine's Day to bring in 100 new customers - has already received about 30 orders.

But love comes at a price.

The company, which sells only roses for now, charges $120 for a bouquet of 12 roses, or $180 for an 18-rose hat-box flower arrangement. A bouquet of roses usually costs about $80.

Such a concept, said Ms Sarah Lim, a senior retail lecturer from Singapore Polytechnic, may be challenging to sustain.

"They are limiting their customer frequency. Florists and gift sellers thrive on repeat customers who come back to them to buy for different people," she said.

However, the concept could work if the company brought in "very unique products not easily found on the market".

"You need a wide range of flowers and other items. You need a wide customer base if each customer can buy for only one person. But people want something unique, so there is a chance it might work," she added.

You And No Other seems to be on the right track: Mr Goh is exploring offering jewellery on the site.

Mr Spencer Yong, 31, an analyst who heard of the company from friends who saw it on Facebook, bought a bouquet of 12 roses for his girlfriend last week.

"I thought it was a fun concept. Makes you think a lot harder about sending that bouquet," he said. "My girlfriend loved it and is really happy because she knows no one else has received flowers like this from me before."

limjess@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 17, 2015.
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