This article was originally published in September 2020 and re-published just in time for Mother's Day coming up this Sunday.
There’s always an occasion for flowers. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the other Chinese Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, maybe you need an emergency bouquet. It’s the gesture that counts, right?
There are a lot of florists in Shanghai. You could easily rock up and choose a bouquet in person, like you were living in the Stone Age, or you could just order one on your phone. Shops also arrange direct delivery to the recipient at a requested time.
Bouquets come in all shapes, sizes and prices, so ordering online widens your browsing choices and allows you to better compare selections. Here’s how.
Ele.me offers the most streamlined and no-nonsense way of browsing through a wide range of flowers for any occasion. Plus, odds are that you already know how to use it.
Step 1: Search & Shop
Ordering flowers works the same way as you order food on the app. Typing 鲜花 (xianhua) into the search bar gives you all 900 results for fresh flowers, complete with previews of their best-sellers. The buttons below the search bar also allow you to refine the search results by popularity (销量), delivery speed (速度), or filter through prices and deals (筛选).
If you like the look of a certain shop, tapping on the shop’s listing will light up your screen with their full selection. Some recommend bouquets by occasion, such as birthdays (生日) or romantic celebrations (look for the word 爱 or 浪漫 on the tab). But most of them also organize their tabs by flower, with the more popular ones being roses (玫瑰), sunflowers (向日葵), baby’s breath (满天星), carnations (康乃馨), and lilies (百合). Some shops also have a "Must Read" (必看) tab at the top, which gives specific details about their delivery methods, or their cancellation/refund policy. This information is almost certainly in Chinese, but as long as you fill in all the required details, you should be fine.
Alternatively, you can always search for a specific flower which will allow you to browse arrangements only with this flower of choice.
All done? Hit the check-out button on the bottom right corner. If your recipient doesn't live with you, or you want to send the flowers to someone's office, you'll also need to add a new address.
Step 2: Choose a delivery time and date, and write your message
From experience, flowers tend to arrive up to half an hour earlier than requested. Factor that into the timing of any important moments!
Since you’re getting these flowers delivered, you should probably write a nice message so the recipient knows who’s behind the gesture. The button marked 祝福语 will give you a 20-character space to write a note or your name — get creative. A florist will transcribe the message onto a small card — don't put private information you don’t want anyone else knowing.
Step 3: Finalize delivery and pay
Near the bottom of the page, you can add other miscellaneous delivery requests under 备注, such as placing it at the door (放门口) or at the front desk (放前台桌上).
Double-check that all the delivery details are correct, go ahead and pay with your preferred method.
Step 4: And now you wait…
Your part is all done. You can track the delivery process on the app and make sure that the recipient has gotten the flowers on the day.
The process of ordering on Dianping is largely the same as Ele.me. Searching 鲜花配送 (xianhuapeisong) will return about 3,000 results, and they generally seem to be at a higher price point. Unlike Ele.me, there’s no photo preview on the results page so you’ll have to click into promising shops to check out what arrangements they have.
What’s convenient about Dianping is the online chat function (在线咨询) that some shops have set up. This makes it easier to directly communicate any special requests you may have to the florist. You can also use this function to ask about any off-season flowers you may want so the florist can pre-order for you ahead of time.
Once you’ve found the bouquet you like, click on the 立即购买 button at the bottom. This will take you to the page where you fill in delivery details and pay. Compared to Ele.me, you have more space to write a longer message on Dianping’s platform, so go nuts.
Pay with your preferred method, and you’re all set. Like Ele.me, you can also easily track the delivery to make sure your recipient has gotten the flowers.