My Competition in the Korean Flower Industry

As the Korean rapper Jessie would say, “This is a competition!”. Yeah, if you don’t follow Korean hip hop or haven’t watched the reality TV show, “Unpretty Rapstar”, then you may not get it, but yeah, business IS a competition. And I found this cool image on the web that kind of shows my attitude when it comes to people directly challenging my flower business in Korea, which hasn’t really happened yet, which kind of both surprises me and doesn’t surprise me, and I’ll explain a little later.

Actually, the image can be misleading, but let me explain the image. It is an image of a bigger fish, about to eat a smaller fish, in a blue ocean. A lot of Koreans and people are familiar with the “Blue Ocean Strategy” when it comes to business. In short, the Blue Ocean Strategy is basically creating a new Niche or a target market that does not have a lot of competitors, which is what most entrepreneurs do. And the fish being eaten is everyone who comes against Flower Gift Korea. And it’s not to say that I’m going after people who are trying to enter the Niche I have created, but which has already kind of existed, but I am saying that anyone who does try to emulate what I have done and in turn ends up taking away my business, will greatly regret it. Yup, and I’m getting pumped just writing this because I have a lot of strategies I have been playing in my head and have written down for when someone does become a direct threat to my business, which I know will happen sooner or later. Honestly, I can’t wait till someone tries to set up a business like Flower Gift Korea because it will just motivate me to work much harder and I honestly believe it will make Flower Gift Korea even better because I know I can out hustle anyone when I want to, and Flower Gift Korea has become a pretty strong brand in the flower industry in Korea.

My competition in the Flower industry in Korea is almost non-existent, though it does exist. Let me explain, there are a lot of websites that provide flower services in Korea in English, and almost all of them claim to provide flower delivery all over Korea within 4 hours…wow, but not really that great if you actually know what they are doing. So I am not getting all of the flower orders being placed outside of Korea or by English speaking people in Korea, that are to be delivered to someone in Korea, because we do not deliver flowers to places far from Seoul like Busan and Daegu. But that’s okay because I have done that on purpose. Flower Gift Korea only delivers flowers to people in and around Seoul, but we also deliver non-flower gifts all over Korea, but that’s not important right now. And we did that for one reason. It was so that we could be in control of the whole customer experience and be able to consistently provide a superior experience for our customers, which we have been very successful with. This is probably why we were able to record 320+ five star reviews, one 4 star review and zero 3, 2 and 1 reviews! The numbers are off the chart and I don’t know another business that has this track record. However, Flower Gift Korea is bound to receive a bad review sooner or later, but it is amazing that it hasn’t happened. But, I have been replaying in my mind what I would write as a counter to those bad reviews, so I’m already pumped and am looking forward to replying to my first bad review, so bring it! So though there are other English websites that provide flower delivery all across South Korea, there isn’t one that only does it for Seoul and areas of Seoul.

Secondly, there isn’t one single English flower delivery service that has a face to its business. None of them have social media accounts that actually show their workers or business place, because they actually aren’t making the flowers, and most don’t even have a shop! Before I decided to get into the flower industry, it never dawned on me that these websites were just website services that gathered orders and just connected you to a random flower shop near the delivery address. I learned that the people making the flowers don’t even interact with the customers, and I knew that this left room for a lower quality product. And I also noticed that most of the flower shops did not have any real reviews, so that made me realize that these flower website businesses were’t really connecting with their customers. So I saw an opportunity and pounced all over it. From the start, Flower Gift Korea was going to be a REAL flower shop business with REAL people who actually CARED about its customers and had actual SOCIAL PROOF of beautiful flowers being delivered to people all over Seoul and areas nearby, and most importantly, we were going to have real reviews from real people.

So I was able to create a “Blue Ocean” as there wasn’t that much competition. At the same time, it is a much smaller niche than creating an English website that connected people to all of South Korea, but I knew that it would be better for the overall brand to just focus on Seoul. I honestly don’t know if we will branch out into areas outside of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeongido, but it isn’t in our plans at the moment. But one thing is for sure, I’m more than ready for competition to come in to the English speaking flower industry in Korea. But as I said earlier, I am both surprised and not surprised that no REAL competition has surfaced yet.

Let me share first why I am surprised. I am surprised that no one has tried to compete with Flower Gift Korea because it doesn’t take all that much money to get started. I pretty much only buy flowers when we get pre-orders. That means we receive the money before we actually buy the flowers used in the bouquet we are making, which is a pretty darn good business model if you ask me. It helps us not buy more flowers than we need, so there are less losses. And anyone can go to the flower market and buy flowers just as we do. You don’t need a special license to buy from the merchants, which is who almost all of the florists buy from. There may be a very small percentage of large flower businesses that buy directly from farmers, but even farmers in Korea prefer to just sell their flowers via the auctions the merchants attend and get their flowers from. So there aren’t that many barriers to entering this industry. And it cost me literally less than $400 for the first year of our Flower Gift Korea website, and it could have costed me less if I wanted it to. So it doesn’t cost that much either, you just need to be able to receive orders to prepare flowers arrangements and you could make the arrangements in a room of your home, which is what my wife and I did while we were operating our English Gyosoopso business during the afternoon/evening.

But, and a big BUT, is that I am also not surprised that no real competition has surfaced in the English speaking Korean flower industry. The main reason is that, it isn’t easy to get to where I am at, and plus, now, you have to go against ME! Yup, not to sound arrogant, but you got your hands full trying to compete with Flower Gift Korea. But let’s just say Flower Gift Korea didn’t even exist. It would still be very very difficult, more difficult than setting up a small English Hagwon business in my opinion, but not impossible.

First off, you need to learn how to sell things online. I have years and years of experience building websites, which I have done more or less as a hobby. Though I am not the best, I am able to create good enough websites that allow me to make money online. I mean, just learning to make an e-commerce website is something you need to do, or at least you need to have the money to pay someone to create an e-commerce website for you. Then you need to learn how to make the flower products. You also need to learn how to buy the correct flowers and then also deliver the products on time. And we are just scratching the surface here. Where are you going to get the boxes used for the gift sets? I have my own branded flower bouquet bags that we now give out. Honestly, the list goes on and on.

Hmmm…after reading parts of this blog post, it almost seems like a warning post. But the purpose of this post is to share my attitude when it comes to competition in business in the flower industry. Honestly, I could go on and on and pump myself up, but I don’t want to bore you with my own motivational post, that is pretty much pumping me up right now haha. But I just want to switch gears and talk a little bit about the Hagwon industry and how it is sooooo different than the Flower industry in Korea, at least for me personally.

I have made a whole website that shares my experiences about starting, building and growing a small English Hagwon business in Korea. But I don’t think I would go into detail about how I started, built, and am growing my flower business. And this is because the competition would be much more direct. You see, in the Hagwon industry, you pretty much can only get students that live near you, so there is less chance that you will have direct competition from another foreigner, at least for now. Also, every single student and parent is different and has different needs from one another, and every single teacher and school is different. For flowers, a bouquet of roses is a bouquet of roses. This means that the product is much more defined and can be copied, so this is why I am reluctant to go and educate others how I was able to create a successful flower business like Flower Gift Korea. And not to mention that the market isn’t as big as you would think, but is still big enough for me to make decent money.

So if you approach me and ask me questions about starting a flower business in Korea, I’m most likely not going to help you. However, I am more than happy to share the marketing techniques that have helped Flower Gift Korea and maybe even some tutorials on how I was able to create my website, if people want to learn and there is incentive for me to do so, but it’s not something I am feeling generous about, especially if you plan on entering the flower industry in Korea. So yeah, if you are reading this and you decide to enter the English speaking flower industry in South Korea, you WILL end up like the fish on the right in the image. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that, “This is a competition!”

Please feel free to email me or comment here about my experiences running my small businesses in Korea, as I love to share my experiences.

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Tony Teacher

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