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Amazon enters cut-flower delivery business with line of bouquets

After experimenting with third-party vendors in the flower-delivery business, appears interested in expanding into that area itself. A 17-year industry veteran said the move “only once again highlights how important it is for supermarket floral operations to develop and promote their own online floral selling programs.”

Amazon, an online retail giant and Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, quietly entered the rapidly expanding online floral market in early August with its own line of fresh-cut flower bouquets, called the Amazon Curated Flower Collection.

AllThingsD, an Internet newsletter, first noticed the offering in an email from Amazon to consumers early in September, and said that an Amazon spokesman confirmed to AllThingsD that the company started selling flowers directly in early August.

Previously, the only fresh-cut flowers available through Amazon were sold by third-party companies.

Customers can order roses, roses with alstroemeria, or Peruvian lilies from the Amazon Curated Flower Collection. The six basic rose selections offered include 12- and 18-stem arrangements of red, pink, bi-color pink, yellow, assorted and spray roses, with or without vases, at prices without vases ranging from about $30 to $44.

In addition to the limited selection of mainly roses, buyers are not able to specify a delivery date. Some of the eight basic Curated Flower Collection choices come with this warning: “In stock but may require an extra 1-2 days to process.”

“What Amazon is selling right now is a very limited line of flowers, albeit at a very good price. Supermarkets should be able to match their price with a vase, so I do not see the pricing as predatory at this stage,” said Jon Strom, recently retired after supervising floral operations and business development at Price Chopper Supermarkets. Strom created an online floral program at Price Chopper and said Amazon’s entry should spur supermarkets to do the same.

“Not offering a scheduled delivery date is a real weakness. Our flower buying culture in the United States is event-oriented, so I think this will limit their growth. Once they have scheduled delivery and even same-day delivery, which they are working on for their core business, they will be able to promote and grow this offer,” Strom predicted.