Author:Bustos, Sergio R.

BUYING FLOWERS ONLINE MAY BE NOTHING NEW TO you, but now Ecuadorean and Colombian flower growers, suppliers of 60% of the US$15 billion U.S. fresh-cut flower market, can now sell their flowers online, too.

World Commerce Online has created Floraplex, an electronic market that allows farmers to bypass the network of more than 100 Miami brokers that control the flow of Latin American flowers. Under the Orlando, Florida-based company's plan, growers and retailers will meet in cyberspace to bid and fill orders just as consumers are doing on auction sites like popular eBay. Payments will be processed electronically. "Even if [the grower] didn't save any money, the program is worth it just because the flowers arrive faster and fresher," says World Commerce Online CEO Bob Shaw.

InfoFlora, a Bogota-based company that works with more than 90 growers in Colombia, is sold on the concept. "Growers for the first time in history will find a way to guarantee their payments," says Diego Botero, president of InfoFlora and the local...

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