If anything, 1800-Flowers.com is a lesson in transformation.
Recently, 1800-Flowers.com unveiled a feature that allows users to place their orders using a voice command that would be completed by a chat service. With this, it underlined the fact that it continues to leverage technology in improving customer experience and simultaneously increasing sales.
From being a small flower-shop to a chain of flower-shops to a telephone-based retailer and now an online giant that delivers happiness (flowers are one of their offerings), 1800-Flowers.com has come a long, long way.
If there’s one thing that 1800-Flowers.com has always done, it’s embracing new ways of reaching out to customers and making their experience easier and more pleasant. And their huge success with multi-channel and digital marketing holds extremely important lessons for businesses everywhere. Here are the top four things you can learn from 1-800-Flowers.com:
Embrace Technology Early On
1800-Flowers.com constantly reminds us that technology isn’t a fad. What appears transient today has the potential to change a lot of things tomorrow.
1800-Flowers.com was one of the earliest retailers to realize the power of the 24 x 7 toll-free telephone number (1800) and put it to use. Its swift transition to internet is evident from the fact that it registered its domain way back in 1995. By the time it went public in 1999, 1800-Flowers.com was pretty clear that a significant portion of their revenue would come from the online channel.
Today, 1800-Flowers.com has a conversational ecommerce system in place that has been optimized because it was adopted in the early days of chatbot technology.
Lesson: Embrace technology while you can, not when you must. The current pace at which technology is woven into every business, it’s not a good idea to be a late adopter.
Integrating technology in your business model at a relatively early stage has multiple benefits. One, it gives you a time to smoothen the process, train your team and build systems that optimize the channel. And two, it gives you a distinct competitive advantage.
The simple layout of the 1800-Flowers.com app makes buying easier.
Make the Experience Pleasant
When you adopt technology, keep in mind the core objective: make things more pleasant for your customers. If the new technology is cumbersome or is improperly deployed, the customer experience suffers – and so does your business.
1800-Flowers.com deploys technology with the underlying theme of “Quick, Easy, On-the-go”. With all of us having become practically inseparable from our cell-phones, it only makes sense to see how ordering over phone can be made more rewarding experience.
1800-Flowers.com took it a step further.
It put in place a service that offers valuable purchase recommendations to buyers. The system asks you just three simple questions and figures out what product (bouquets or roses in this case) you should be buying. It’s quick, it’s super-easy and you can do it on your mobile phone.
Lesson: Invest in technology that helps customers come to a decision faster.
It will not only add value but also speed up the buying process. This drastically reduces the odds that the customer might return without making a purchase. Additionally, it makes sure that even if the shopper is short of time, they won’t miss out on an a gift-giving occasion.
The 1800-Flowers.com app has all the options but the clean layout makes it easy on the eye.
Integrate Everything For Your Customer
The 1800-Flowers.com chat service didn’t stop at providing a chatbot. Nor did it stop after feeding the chatbot AI with the ability to ask questions, interpret their answers and make recommendations based on those answers.
It integrated everything, absolutely everything, in the buying cycle. The chatbot puts across just three simple questions (“Easy”). Next it will understand the responses and swiftly offer recommendations (“Quick”). It allows the user to carry out purchases over mobile apps (“On-the-go”).
1800-Flowers.com understands that even after the customer has made a decision to purchase, there’s two more stages: placing the order and making the payment. Customers can now place orders using voice commands. Next, they can make payments with Samsung Pay, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
1800-Flowers.com even offers Augmented Reality (AR) messages to whichever loved one you’re sending the flowers to.
Everything’s lined up.
The 1800-Flowers.com app offers you multiple occasions to choose from.
Lesson: Don’t leave any loose ends that would require customers to make extra efforts and rethink the purchase.
An end-to-end technology solution that takes care of everything from the beginning to the end gives you a strong competitive advantage. Making things extremely easy and convenient for the customer makes great business sense.
Offer Multiple Channels
While 1800-Flowers.com has always embraced technology at a rapid pace, it isn’t making any channel an exclusive channel. It isn’t forcing its customers to use a particular channel.
Yes, it rewarded customers who were willing to adopt the new features – those placing their orders by February 3 could save upto 40%. That, however, did not mean the other channels were being ignored or were being dropped.
On the one hand, customers could also shop on 1800-Flowers.com over an iPone, a Mac, an Apple Watch or an iPad and pay using Apple Pay. It also upgraded its Facebook Messenger chatbot.
On the other hand, they have also used SMS (text message)-based promotions. As a matter of fact, their “Spot A Mom” contest (for Mother’s Day) met with a high degree of success. And of course there are Radio Special offers too!
1800-Flowers.com runs special offers for Radio Listeners.
Lesson: Keep adding channels through which to serve your customers.
You don’t become a $1.15 billion flower delivery company by limiting the number of channels through which customers can transact with you. And keep something special for each channel.
If there’s a particular channel that customers aren’t taking on to, you must offer them an incentive to do so. Free shipping, a discount, a longer warranty, a freebie… anything that drives the customer towards that channel.
Be nimble on your feet – this is a loud message from 1800-Flowers.com to all businesses. Use technology in the way that increases your customer’s convenience and improves their overall experience.
Also, try and use an integrated approach. If a part of your selling transaction is online and the other part is offline, the customer may find it patchy and less-than-desirable. Don’t have a technology strategy that works in silos.
Our technology solution has helped businesses go from pure brick-and-mortar to fully online, seamlessly, profitably. Whatever the degree of technology you’re considering for your business, we can help you. Why not give us a call and see how technology can give you a real lead?
Kaartik Iyer is the Director of Technology at Infigic Technologies