For 1-800-Flowers.com, which has substantially expanded its product portfolio beyond flowers to gifts and gourmet foods, jumping on AI didn’t require any second thought as the Omnichannel player is no stranger to embracing emerging technology to drive personalization and customization strategies.
“Things are constantly changing. We learned early on that we needed to be involved in emerging technology and that if something was going to disrupt our business then it should be us,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at the Javits Conference Center.
1-800-Flowers is well known for the fact that it is not just as an e-commerce player but one embracing the most innovative technology in play for nearly 30 years. The retailer commenced online operations in 1991, and was the first to be selling on the leading ISP’s web presence at the time — AOL — which was providing one of the earliest dial-up ramps to the prepubescent web.
“In 1997 consumers decided the web was the platform and we were on the front of that wave,” said McMann, describing it as the third wave of retail innovation. But it’s the fourth wave he believes has truly set retail in a new direction: the arrival of mobile devices and social media.
“That’s transformed the business and how we live today,” he said, noting the fifth wave — conversational commerce — has arrived and there’s a bit of irony in play.
Soon 1-800-flowers.com is focussing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) to build a one-to-one relationship with customers and offering consumers what they want. Consumer is king and we need to look at all possible ways to reach and offer experience whether through (AI/ AR) or through mobile.