LATIN AMERICA'S DEFENDING FLOWER-ARRANGING CHAMP, FABIO REYES, holds court at his combination florist school and web-business nerve center near downtown Santiago. Seated behind a pile of computer gear stacked on a tiny wooden desk, the modem hissing away, the owner of the five-store Floramour floral chain tutors a student in his art. "No, no, the rose should point out, past 45 degrees. Higher, higher. There," he commands, before turning to check on his Internet sales.
Reyes' online arrangement has undergone similar tweaking--beginning with a one-page site that resembled a calling card to today's Spanish-language flower hub that is capturing business from around the world.
A few years back he had a static site that chronicled the 27-year-old family business, but did not offer anything for sale. He knew of the potential to sell flowers online--some Brazilian friends in the flower business had commented that their web sales on Valentine's Day went through the roof. "But my page lacked a hook," Reyes admits. "It wasn't very dynamic."
Then Entel, Chile's leading long-distance phone company, came calling. The firm was shopping around for candidates to open virtual stores that would provide its web page with services. Reyes was a likely candidate, well known for his international success at the Copa Latinoamericana and the Copa Hispanoamericana flower arrangement competitions, as well as occasional appearances on television commenting on gardening issues. Reyes accepted the deal, paying a small fee to be listed with Entel and outsourcing web design and payment processing, and began doing business online.
This time around, he vowed to make an impression--and sales--over the web. "It needs to be dynamic, and as intuitive as possible," recommends Reyes. "What the clients want to do is see the...