Swedish innovator with blooming new concept in Bangkok

It all started when Johannes Bergstrom was ordering flowers online. The expensive bouquet he had bought arrived in a plain, white box that looked like it had been bought in Tesco or Lotus. The flowers had just been thrown into the boring box and he felt like something was lost. The whole experience felt very impersonal and he couldn’t quite understand why the price was so high when the experience was so inadequate.

“How could 8 roses be 1400 baht plus delivery?” Johannes asked himself. Then he started looking into other online flower stores and found even more expensive bouquets. One place charged 3500 baht for 8 Gerberas. Gerberas cost 10 baht per flower at the flower market, Johannes explains. A markup of the price by 35 times.

“I thought, that we must have missed something,” Johannes explains. His wife then enrolled in a florist course for a month to gain some more knowledge on the field.

“I Couldn’t let go of this experience and when I looked into it, I thought that there had to be a better way, where customers would get more value for their money,” he added.

Only few months later…

That was only in September last year. By December Johannes signed the lease of the spacious loft in Taka Town, that is now home for UrbanFlowers.

“When we first moved in, there was no ceiling. The place used to be a yoga studio, which is why, there’s a stage in the corner. We kept that as the place for the flowers to be arranged.” Making the work of the experienced florists working at UrbanFlowers, into a celebrated art.

“We set out to make a more affordable and superior gifting experience with more personalized options for our customers. This resulted in UrbanFlowers,” Johannes shares.

Personalized e-gifting

With Johannes previous experience within e-commerce, he started drawing up the website and cutting out cardboard box models from his home. Trying to create the perfect experience.

What started as a flower delivery, turned in to more of an e-gifting commerce, and the newly launched website, is only the beginning.

“We have so many ideas we are working on. This is only 50 percent of it,” Johannes shares.

The main focus is for now the fresh bouquets, but the online boutique already offers a small range of dry arrangement as well as plants.

“We just made a small selection,” Johannes explains while adding “you have to nail it before you scale it,” with a warm a welcoming grin.

Vase vs. wrapped?

Opposite the “flower-arrangement-stage” is a corner with plants. Next to that is an area dedicated to various vases, which is one of the many more personalized options at the site. Whether you wish to receive the bouquet wrapped or in one of the Scandinavian-styled vases.

“In Europe we really like the vases. Here in Southeast Asia, most people prefer to receive their flowers wrapped, but we have had some orders with vases already,” Johannes tells.

Once again, it is all about the customer experience and what will make both the buyer and the receiver of the flowers happy. As Johannes put it, buying someone flowers is all about building relations.

“This is why our label of packaging is “Someone is thinking of you,” Johannes explains, while the company slogan is “Make Someone Happy.”

Straight from the stage in Saga

Johannes hasn’t always been working in e-commerce. Before moving to Thailand 15 years ago, he worked as a stage actor back in Sweden.

“When I first came here 15 years back, I wanted to do something else. That made me think about what else I liked doing, and the choice randomly landed on website design.”

He then enrolled in a course called Web Courses Bangkok, where one of the assignments was to build a real estate site.

“I fell in love with the site we were building. Then I opened a real estate company called Bangkok Condo Finder” Johannes shares. The first real estate site to use videos as a selling point.

He later sold the company to American Asian Tiger and has since been involved with numerous projects, including “Dinner in the sky” back in 2016.

The sad bouquet changed everything

When UrbanFlowers first moved in to the loft in Taka Town, he had a foldable mattress stored underneath the desk, that he would often sleep on.

“There is no risk in having an idea, but it has been some long days from the day I signed the lease.”

Besides the many fresh flowers stored in the cooled flower fridge in the back, UrbanFlowers make use of daily deliveries. This is to make sure, that the bouquets they send out, is as fresh as possible. Bouquets inspired by pop-culture and named after songs, movies and old Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe.

“Often we will do the flowers and then think, this could be Marilyn Monroe,” Johannes says, even though, he is not the creator of the pop-inspired creations available at the site. Creations made to make someone happy by showing the person, that someone is thinking about them.

English: UrbanFlowers

Thai: UrbanFlowers

About Miabell Mallikka

Miabell Mallikka is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Miabell Mallikka

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