For most of us, online brand names and the local supermarket used to be some of the only options available for purchasing flowers. And for too long we’ve settled on the least ugly offender, shelled out crazy amounts of cash for the flowers and/or delivery fees, and more often than not, ended up with disappointing arrangements that arrived late or looked nothing like the photos.

This is where Zinnia comes in. We’re on a mission to change the flower buying experience at every level. We believe the experience should be centered around you - the customer. You shouldn’t have to waste time scouting out the least expensive service. Zinnia flowers are nearly half the cost of big, national order gatherers. You shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed by pages of options and tacky add-ons. We offer a curated selection of unique arrangements to help you choose flowers quickly. Less time choosing means more time for things you love. And finally, when gifting flowers, it should be a simple pleasant experience for the recipient as well. All our arrangements are wrapped in burlap and kept hydrated with water tubes, so your recipients don't have to go looking for a vase right away after receiving their flowers.

So what’s our secret? How can we offer such a beautiful selection and make it extremely easy and affordable?

The story began with our co-founder, Nathan, who worked at PayPal and recognized a problem with the floral industry. After listening to PayPal customers complain about buying flowers online, we did a lot of research and went to speak directly to local florists to come up with a better solution to buying flowers online. Zinnia launched soon after to streamline the flower buying process by offering a curated selection of flower arrangements from local florists starting at only $35 including delivery throughout the Omaha, Council Bluffs & Kansas City areas.

So that’s our story. But have you ever wondered how arrangements are delivered thousands of miles away in just a few hours by the national flower services?

For more than 90 years, the primary method of placing a flower order for delivery in a distant city has been to contact a local florist who then transfers your order to a qualified affiliated flower shop near your recipient.

Enter brokers and wire services

For years, wire services have been primarily focused on facilitating the transfer of orders and payments between florists, and providing national marketing. They still provide those functions but have added the direct selling to the mix, by themselves and their non-florist affiliates. Now, their primary goal is to drive consumers directly to their call centers and websites, instead of local flower shops.

Florist-members of these services are independently owned and operated companies, typically small family-owned businesses. The wire services provide the networks for these independent shops and facilitate the transfer of orders nationally and internationally, allowing for a seamless, speedy method of delivery of fresh flowers around the world.

The problem is, these services have had a substantial negative impact on traditional florist shops. Their commission structures have created an imbalance that continues to weaken the sector with more than 1/3 of all orders now being sold by “broker” services. And most of us have no way of knowing that the local florist partners, with the cost of products, staffs, vehicles, insurance, and operating expenses, have to deal with increasingly large fees and deceptive affiliates.

Our Local Florist Partnerships

So why do local florists maintain memberships in these organizations? Most still see a need to use the networks for worldwide transfer of orders from their local customers. But as fees increase and flower-buying behaviors change, we’re on a mission to help local florists reach the growing population that is purchasing flowers on a regular basis with a more affordable, direct way of placing orders.

In Omaha, we work with a local florist designer to design our own one-of-a-kind arrangements at a price point that fills in this gap in the market. (We like to say we are the affordability of the grocery store with the quality of the local florists!)

Then, we partner with local florists. Our partnership is equitable, and profitable for the local florists. Our partnership with local florists is unparalleled in the floral industry. Zinnia is a much more efficient model that provides local florists a new way to connect with customers without any middlemen or pesky fees.

Here’s what else makes Zinnia unique:

  • Flowers can be ordered online with just a few clicks

  • We offer a curated selection so choosing the right bouquet is quick and simple

  • Prices start at $35 shipped

  • Free same or next day delivery

  • Each bouquet comes with our signature burlap wrap, individual stem water tubes, and a handwritten message

None of us are florists. We just saw a problem and had enough courage (or foolishness) to try to solve it. We quit our jobs last summer to jump into the startup world and participate in the Straight Shot Accelerator Program, launched Zinnia in August 2015, and now we’re working hard to expand simple, affordable flower ordering across the Midwest.


Source & Image: IStock/Shironoso