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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Create Web Infrastructure For Growth

Bill Tobin tells how he became one of the first to make money on the web. More... On Tobin...

Key Question:


Be easier, faster and cheaper.  

This can only happen if you invest in Internet functionality.

Q:  Bill Tobin sold more flowers than anybody else in the world in 1995. Over $5 million. How he do it? 

A:  The simple answer is that his infrastructure worked and worked very well. He had such control over his database and e-commerce, that he could parse both the data and the money so flowers and gifts were delivered to people by local merchants all over the USA. Today, there are many companies that do it readily -- Amazon, eBay, and thousands of others.

In 1995, Bill Tobin was a new pioneer. Today, most internet hosting services provide the e-commerce tools and with a little imagination, you could readily emulate the FTP functionality through your national trade association.

Think about it

Do you add web functionality on a regular basis?  What can customers buy from you on the web?  Is it easy for them to buy from you?

Clip from: Internet Basics: Space and time become derivative.

  The web makes every city and town everybody's  city and town.

World Wide Web: There are four basic reasons to build your business on the web. Whether you are just starting or you are growing, the web will be the  backbone of business in more ways than most anyone imagined. It truly is a new metaphor. This is a paradigm shift. It is actually changing the way we think.

In this episode of the show we learn how you can do what big business does. The world is our market.  So, make your business an e-business, and then merge out into the world's quickly-evolving e-culture.  The time is now. 

PC Flowers & Gifts

Bill Tobin, Founder

134 Davenport Circle
Stamford, CT 06902

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
Internet Sales

Year Founded: 1989

Create Web Infrastructure For Growth

(Voiceover) The cut-flower industry is a $17 billion business. The man you're going to meet now knew nothing about flowers, yet eventually, he sold more of them than any one florist in the world. In 1989, Bill Tobin started PC Flowers, and in 1994, he expanded.

BILL TOBIN: I believe that on the Internet, as in an online service, you must earn the right of the consumer to tell them about your commercial message. You have to be ahead of the curve if you're small.

HATTIE: All right.

BILL: If you're big, you can have the luxury of riding the curve. If you're small, you've got to be ahead of the curve. This is a highly educated user. This is a user that is used to a laser beam approach to what they want. This is a user that won't put up with a waste of their time. And it's a user that's very demanding. Believe me when I tell you that the marketing to online consumers is so different than to consumers in other channels of distribution. They are far more demanding. And, basically, the reason is that they have total control. If you anger a consumer in your traditional channel of sales such as a catalog or a retail store, they won't come back.

HATTIE: Right.

BILL: They possibly might even call your number and complain. On an online network, the sword of Damocles drops with a keystroke. They can go and tell 10 million people...

HATTIE: They can kill you.

BILL: you ruined their mother's Mother's Day by going on a chat service. And they have a sword that has never been before over any type of retailer or marketer.


BILL: And you can use it to your advantage or it can destroy you. The Internet consumer or the interactive consumer is far more demanding than any other consumer you've ever dealt with. He's smarter. He's better educated. He has more money. And don't think he's going to take all this time to go through because it's your ugly child site. We've put together--Magnet Studios has designed my site to the point where it's instantaneous gratification. And it must be that way.

HATTIE: OK. And that's no matter what you're selling. You can sell pizza on a corner. It must be high quality. It must be instant. It must get that customer to come back.

BILL: It must be better than everyone else. And also on the Internet and on interactive services, people are going to want better prices because people are thinking, `Well, I'm going to give them this convenience through this interactive medium and they're going to pay me a premium.' Wrong. They're going to say, `You don't have brick. You don't have mortar. You should be 30 percent cheaper than everyone else.'

HATTIE: So if a small-business owner is going to go online with their product, they'd better be prepared for a critical audience. They'd better be prepared for delivering quickly. They'd better be prepared for high quality.

BILL: I tell you this, PC Flowers and Gifts developed a technological infrastructure from the ground up for an interactive service only for a year prior to going live. #2: we developed probably the most comprehensive order processing and customer service interactive networks that, instantaneously, we can have a database management program that tells us where it is. We can respond to the consumer electronically.

We built an electronic business.

We have a 100 percent customer guarantee, no questions asked. If you don't bring up the best graphic capability, the best navigation capability, invest a considerable amount of dollars in, A, your Web site, the tools you have for order processing, credit card processing, customer support and insight, at a bottom line, to bring it up and develop the transactional service from the bottom up. If you bring on a service without doing all of this homework ahead of time, you've bought yourself a ticket to anonymity in cyberspace.


BILL: You're just a floating molecule out there. You know, I hear a lot about the perceived problem of security on the Internet. And I can tell you that it is just perception and it has been fostered by a negative spin that the media puts on it because it sells. Negativism and scary stuff sells.

HATTIE: Right, right.

BILL: But I can tell you what we're going to do right now with your credit card is a far sight safer than giving this credit card to the waiter to take into the kitchen to run it...

HATTIE: Really?

BILL: ...for anybody else to see or to pick up the telephone and give to an operator located where, who's going to put it into a database that who knows has access to it. I mean, for us to do this through an encrypter is so far more secure than the other traditional methods of ordering, I can't even explain it to you.

HATTIE: So it's a psychological problem we have.

BILL: It's perception.

The Internet is bigger than any company in the United States and any government in the world. It's just a wide open, free-for-all highway.

It's the Autobahn of opportunity.

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