Flower Chimp sets out on path to regional expansion
By Chong Jinn Xiung November 8, 2018
- Aims to differentiate itself with its nationwide coverage and wide variety of products
- Seeks to expand operations to two additional markets after its current four markets
SELLING flowers online is not a bed of roses, particularly in Malaysia where there are just over a dozen online florists in the market. But that didn’t stop German duo Maximilian Lotz and Niklas Frassa from starting their own online florist business Flower Chimp in 2016.
Both Lotz and Frassa come from technology backgrounds with Lotz having headed mapping solution company Here.com while Frassa was a manager at online fashion marketplace Zalora.
DNA recently spoke to Flower Chimp’s co-founder and chief operating officer Frassa at the company’s office in Kuala Lumpur where he explained that the duo always had a passion for e-commerce and they both decided to get out of their jobs at some point to start a company together.
Lotz and Frassa explored different niches that they could enter and position themselves sustainably. Early on they were looking at a business model to connect part-timers to jobs, Frassa said they both realised that they should stick to their e-commerce roots because creating an app is very different compared to running an online shop.
Having spent some time in the Netherlands where flowers are big business, the duo took inspiration from that flower industry and identified that the Southeast Asia market has a good chance of replicating the same business.
After putting together the website and connecting with several flower suppliers, they launched Flower Chimp from their living room on May 1, 2016. They didn’t have to wait long before their first big break as they received a huge spike in orders in conjunction with Mother’s Day.
Though they initially started in the Klang Valley, Flower Chimp leveraged on its less than a hundred florists partners to help establish a delivery network that spanned across the country in just half a year.
Frassa explained that Flower Chimp’s aggressive growth was fuelled by the fact that the flower market is already niche, and they didn’t just want to get a small share of that niche. To him, Flower Chimp’s differentiator is that it is able to cover more areas geographically and offer over 200 flower assortments.
Part of their appeal according to Frassa is that they are able to arrange for same day delivery of flowers for any order made before 1pm and they keep it affordable too with prices start from US$21 (RM89).
Flowers are, of course, more delicate and have a shorter lifespan than the average e-commerce goods. While this was something he didn’t need to deal with during his time in Zalora, Frassa quickly learned that by building their own logic and forecasting models, Flower Chimp was able to identify the types of flowers that are in high demand and match it by region and day, to accurately procure the right amount and ensure minimise wastage.
But it is not just improving operational efficiency that keeps Frassa satisfied. Since he started working with their partner florists, he has seen those same shops mature along with their business.
“It is nice to see how our partners have grown. They are now much bigger, appear more professional and generate more revenue. That is something immensely satisfying to see especially in new markets like the Philippines,” he said.
Certainly, the boys from Flower Chimp are doing something right as they managed to attract US$1.4 million (RM6 million) in funding from Asia Venture Group. According to Frassa, the funds would be allocated to supporting Flower Chimp’s operations across the region as well as accelerating its regional expansion.
To date, Flower Chimp operates in four markets: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. It plans to further expand its operations to two additional markets by 2019.
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