United Florists Pty Ltd trading as Lily’s Florist and Elysium Marketing Pty Ltd, a related body corporate, have each provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC in relation to misleading representations that Lily’s Florist was a local florist.
United Florists has admitted that it made misleading representations that Lily’s Florist was a local florist or had a physical presence in a particular suburb, town or location when in fact Lily’s Florist is an online florist which employs an outsourcing model, fulfilling orders via third-party florists.
Elysium Marketing, which is the trustee for the trust which owns the Lily’s Florist business name and website, has also acknowledged that United Florists made the false or misleading representations on Lily’s Florist webpages and in Google ads.
United Florists used more than 1,500 different webpages and Google ads to create the misleading impression that Lily’s Florist was a local business in more than 1,000 individual suburbs in Australia, when instead the purchased floral products were assembled and supplied by an Australia-wide network of third-party florists.
“United Florists represented that Lily’s Florist was a local business when, in fact, it offered products nationally using a network of independent florists to fill orders, which were sometimes located a considerable distance from where the webpages represented they were based,” ACCC Commissioner, Liza Carver.
“Statements that mislead consumers into thinking they’re dealing with a small business in a local area unfairly diverts business away from legitimate local businesses.”
“Businesses seeking to boost their online presence by targeting particular locations in their marketing strategy must be transparent about how their business operates and where they are actually located,” Ms Carver said.
United Florists and Elysium Marketing have each undertaken to conduct Australian Consumer Law compliance training for their directors.
Both companies cooperated with the ACCC during the investigation. See a copy of the undertakings for Lily's Florist - United Florists Pty Ltd and Lily's Florist - Elysium Marketing Pty Ltd.
Following a separate ACCC investigation, Fig & Bloom Pty Ltd has removed potentially misleading representations from 940 webpages that may have given the impression that it was a local business in a specific suburb. In fact, flower orders from Fig and Bloom were assembled and delivered from one of three warehouses, often located some distance from the suburb.
"Consumers may seek out local providers in the hope of receiving fresher flowers or to support businesses in their neighbourhood. Misleading representations about the nature of a florist deprives consumers of the ability to make informed choices about their orders,” Ms Carver said.
As a result of the ACCC’s investigations, these businesses have removed the location-specific statements from Lily’s Florist’s and Fig & Bloom’s web pages.
Lily’s Florist is a national online retailer of floral products including floral bouquets, arrangements, and hampers, as well as other gift products.
Fig & Bloom is a national retailer (excluding the Northern Territory) of floral products including floral bouquets, arrangements, and hampers, as well as other gift products.
These outcomes follow a warning issued by the ACCC ahead of Valentine’s Day 2022 putting the online florist industry on notice that the ACCC’s is concerned by reports of false or misleading representations about the location of online florists.
The ACCC has been investigating concerns that large online florists are using digital marketing and advertising tactics to convey they are local bricks and mortar florists, when in fact, they are assembling and distributing flowers through a network of third-party florists or from centralised warehouses.
Recently the ACCC instituted proceedings against online florist and gift retailer Bloomex for allegedly publishing misleading online star ratings and price representations.
A 2022-23 Compliance and Enforcement Priority for the ACCC is consumer and fair trading issues relating to manipulative or deceptive advertising and marketing practices in the digital economy.
Image from the ‘Lily’s Image of the florist’ website. Text reads “Your local flower delivery service”
Image from the Fig & Bloom website reads “Flower delivery to Bardon” and “Fig & Bloom is a family-owned local florist in Bardon”