Clients connect with FTD for internal and external corporate gifting through the Ariba Network.

FTD Companies Inc. knows something about networks. There are about 40,000 flower shops around the world connected to its FTD and Interflora networks, and the flower and gifting company has expanded its corporate gifting business through an external supplier network.

“We connect through the network with companies who want a dedicated source for their internal gifting,” Eric Dean, FTD’s vice president, partnership marketing and business development, told attendees at SAP Ariba’s annual meeting in Las Vegas this week. FTD has been on the network for more than 10 years and, while Dean didn’t offer specific numbers, he said FTD has been adding customers “continually” over that time.

Corporate customers connect with FTD on the network for gifts including flowers, edible treats like Shari’s Berries and jewelry. That network business has increased in recent years as companies provide their clients gifts, Dean said, but also to recognize their own employees. And the sympathy flower category is growing among corporate customers, he said.

Mother’s Day accounts for 20% of FTD sales annually, the largest single sales driver, Dean said. Birthday and sympathy gift sales are the next largest sources of annual revenue.

Buyers can use the Ariba Network and Ariba’s online procurement software to order products approved by their employer from FTD. More than 2 million businesses use the Ariba Network to buy or sell products.

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FTD is using Ariba’s PunchOut catalog system, which enables buyers to “punch out” from Ariba’s procurement software to a section of FTD.com, or to a punchout catalog customized to their employer’s interests by product type and price.

For orders placed through the PunchOut system, a buyer’s employer can set rules that establish which employees are authorized to buy and what products are included. As orders are completed, Ariba automatically sends records of each transaction to the purchasing company’s financial management system. “The network provides a clean invoice and payment processing, and opens new sales channel opportunities,” Dean said.

In addition to using the PunchOut system, FTD also subscribes to Ariba Discovery, a service that lets buyers on the Ariba Network search for suppliers by product type and other criteria. FTD is using the Discovery service to connect with thousands of potential buyers, FTD says.

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