American-Jordanian entrepreneur Bilal Hamdan created the modern blooms business after swapping his corporate career for his own new colorful retail venture.
Many may think this, but the full flower journey starts on farms all over the world, followed by air freight companies which ship and move the flowers to every corner of the earth, and then they are distributed to shops in vans, 18 wheelers and local courier companies - so it is actually not unusual for a man to be operating in the world of flowers.
Today, some of the best flower designers, and the founders of the world's largest flower shops, are men.
While flowers are the products we specialise in, our focus is on the business aspect - growing a technology company and providing a quality product and service to our customers - so men and women can equally occupy the role of operating within the world of flowers.
It was a long and hard journey that got me into flowers and e-commerce, and was actually business number five for me. The initial business ventures I attempted either (unfortunately) failed and cost me a lot, or allowed me to grow and transition to a strong team, ultimately allowing me and the business to become sustainable and valuable.
Online, specifically, came as a spin-off from the flower distribution company of which I was a part. Combining technology and the opportunity was a no-brainer for me, and I knew that I had to get into the space - and not think twice about it.
Not purely the home delivery aspect, but rather fast and same-day delivery, which 800flower provides.
The ease of ordering "last minute" and utilising our express delivery option is very popular among many of our customers. That said, e-commerce purchasing growth in the UAE, coupled with a diversified population and the generous Arabic culture that actively gifts on a regular basis, have all contributed to our success.
In the Arab world, we see regular gifting opportunities in the form of visiting someone’s home for the first time, new born babies, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, to name a few.
Where do you source most of your flowers?
From all over the world. Holland is the more popular destination. Many don't know that Kenya is a country which produces about 40% of the world's annual flower consumption.
You also have physical shops – did they follow as a result of the online business?
We were a physical store before launching our e-commerce platform.
Our Dubai Marina shop, opened in 2010, was the first one for 800flower, followed by our online presence in 2012, and then the Palm Jumeirah Shop, in Golden Mile Galleria, opened in late 2016.
This mix of click and mortar allows our clients to identify with the brand, and also gives them the confidence they seek when it comes to elements like speaking with someone in the shop or physically picking out flowers and gifts, if they so choose.
Flowers and gifting are occasion-based, and so outside of the major holidays we are still busy with many other celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, thank yous, and the 'just because' reasons to send flowers all year round.
In addition, we also service companies, hotels and events with their daily, weekly and once-off requirements.
We're really excited about our plants division, which will supply and maintain plants for our clients' homes and offices - a subscription-type model.