Virtual Flowers on Valentines Day?

1-800-Flowers has launched BokayMe.com, a site that allows people to send virtual flowers to each other. The service is free for basic bouquets and up to $3 for enhanced bouquets.

I am 35, and starting to feel very out of touch. I can just imagine how my wife would react to virtual flowers. It reminds me of the guy in college who went around selling fake flower corsages (he claimed that his girlfriend never complained).

I am not a huge fan of 1-800-Flowers because of some things I know about the company and a presentation I heard from Jim McCann (their CEO) last year. That being said, this might actually work regardless of how dumb it initially sounds. Here are some reasons why.

1) On Facebook, people throw sheep at each other and give virtural gifts (some of which cost $1).
2) Even if no one ever buys the $3 bouquets, the site will provide a great branding tool and advertising medium for the core business.
3) This site could start a viral effect that could be leveraged in the core business.

Here are some reasons why this idea could easily fail:

1) The company and its CEO.
2) Competition. Anybody can throw up a site where people can send virtual flowers to each other. If you remember, Facebook $1 gifts got unpopular in a hurry once people started writing applications where people could send each other coffee, sheep and other ridiculous junk.

Maybe I am just old. Even if it works, it still sounds silly to me. Am I wrong?

  • http://www.bokayme.com Seth

    Greg –

    Thanks for the post. I certainly hope you don’t send Bokays to your wife instead of real flowers – and I’m sure she feels the same way. Our goal is to create a radically lower price point to allow you to say “Hey, I hope you’re having a great day” without breaking the bank.

    As you point out, BokayMe is a hybrid free / premium model. If you want to send flowers to a mobile device, there is real value in that (and real cost) so we need to charge for it. If you want to send a Bokay to an email address, that service is free.

    Regarding your feelings about 1-800-Flowers overall, I’m sorry if you’ve had a bad experience but I would be happy to talk to you about it in greater depth. Most people truly appreciate our service and our company.

    Seth

    slasser[at] 1800flowers.com

  • http://www.scrappybusiness.com Joshua Wexelbaum

    Regarding Bokayme.com, I think this is a fantastic idea with the wrong monetization strategy.

    As I see it, this should be a completely free service that serves for additional branding/exposure for 1-800-Flowers.

    Charging $3 bucks for virtual flowers? I have sincere doubts if that’s going to pull in any type of significant profit.

    However, if they open the entire platform to a free model, there is more customer goodwill and increasing brand exposure.

  • http://www.trbr.net Seomotion

    It is great Idea. It will be very good if there will be possibility to upload own models of flowers and other kinds of gifts

  • http://www.elixirsystems.com Elixir PPCer

    I seem to remember sending virtual flowers to people 10 years ago — mostly to online friends from chat rooms and discussion groups. It went along with sending e-cards.

  • http://www.scrappybusiness.com Joshua Wexelbaum

    Sure, but do you guys think this is a profitable business model.. that people will pay up to $3 to send virtual flowers?

  • http://www.gowfb.com GoWFB

    What a moronic idea; asking people to pay up so they get to send someone what would essentially be a picture of some flowers? I thought the virtual gift idea was stupid and a complete waste of time and effort, but see how popular it got, so there’s no accounting for peoples’ foolishness i suppose.

  • http://www.vitabase.com Greg Howlett

    On the other hand, these guys might be geniuses. If I remember right, they are (or were) advertising in Second Life which to me is even more out there. I wonder how that is working out for them…

  • http://www.greghowlett.com Greg Howlett

    Also, I have to keep reminding myself that I am out of touch. I do not get 90% of what happens in Facebook.

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk Steve Elliott

    How long will it be before someone tries to water their virtual flower, busts their pc, ends up in ER and then get’s on to their lawyers!

    If I were to send virtual flowers, I could virtually guarantee a slot in the spare room !

  • http://www.capatrex.com Alexis

    Did the price of flowers go through the roof this year? I bought a bouquet that usually costs $5.99 for $16.99 yesterday. It was crazy.

  • http://www.springgarden.info/ Matthew Chuck

    Cool Information!