Online consumers are more demanding than ever before. With revolutions in technology and supply chain such as same day delivery, they want cheap, high quality goods, delivered quickly and conveniently, easily ordered from wherever they are.
Historically shoppers had to make do with what was locally available. Fast forward 20 years and stores on the other side of the world are competing with local businesses. Our music is on demand, taxis come to our exact location, we can read reviews of restaurants whilst stood outside, even get our favourite restaurants to deliver to our door. And it’s in the swipe of a fingertip. We expect more and we want it now.
Simplicity is key. Time-poor consumers now pay more for services that make their lives easier. Take, for instance, the mattress industry. Before the time of Casper and the likes, shopping for a mattress meant going in store, testing out show mattresses, negotiating delivery time and costs, or even hiring/borrowing a van. That's a whole Saturday afternoon. Now you can order via your smartphone after reading reviews, making an educated choice, and it is then delivered to your door in a compressed box that can easily be transported into the room of choice. You can order a new mattress on your commute and it will be delivered to you for free the next day.
Do consumers marvel in this revolution? No. They want more.
E-commerce empowers customers and offers them a world of choice. Price, quality and delivery (cost and time) all play a role in their purchase decision. “We need to satisfy them, if not someone else will” perfectly sums up businesses struggle against online competition. Being local is no longer beneficial, customers have a wealth of options and prices to chose from.
Now take that purchase and make it into a special occasion, a forgotten birthday, an emergency apology: the pressure is on for the gift industry to get it right.
Last week, at "Affordable Luxury, Now, Please", Sharon Anne Kean, Head of Product at Bloom and Wild discussed consumer wants and how technology and innovative thinking is the key to meeting increasing consumer demands.
Bloom and Wild are reshaping the florist and gifting industry with a unique delivery method and immediate delivery options. Their focus is a selection of bouquets designed to be “individual, different and beautiful”. Whilst their bouquets cover all occasions, they keep to a smaller selection to ensure their business runs smoothly and an operation with many moving parts (from field, to design, to delivery), offers consistent quality for their customers. However, the genius is in the delivery.
Bloom & Wild pick their flowers just as they are budding, pre-bloom, allowing them to be sent via Royal Mail, delivered in an ingenious boxing solution that allows the flowers to be posted through 99% of letter boxes around the UK. The buds can survive for 48hrs without water so even if the recipient isn’t home, their flowers will be waiting for them to return. Once unpacked, the flowers tend last longer, due to being pre-bloom, offering more time for the recipient to enjoy their gift.
Offering free next day delivery and a solution that means that the recipient no longer has to be present to receive the bouquet really sets Bloom and Wild apart from their competition. They also don't implement surge pricing, a classic model for the seasonal gift industry, making them affordable, whatever the occasion.
And what if next day isn’t an option? If you're based in London (look out for expansions in cities near you soon), Bloom and Wild utilise delivery service Shuttle to get your gift to the recipient within two hours.
Granted, big changes to an established industry take time for customers to become accustomed to and Bloom and Wild do offer more traditional methods such as hand tied bouquets (the more traditional presentation box of gifted flowers). Some customers may be confused when the letterbox bouquet is delivered, it’s a change of thinking behind a very traditional industry. However, customers adapt quickly, as mentioned by Sharon, who stated “confusion turns to joy once the flowers are unpackaged” and coupled with an extended lifespan, they're winning over consumers and recipients alike.
Key questions to ask if you want to delight the unreasonable customer:
- When do they want it? The answer is always now! And in a method that's convenient and cheap, not just quick. This service must be reliable in the gifting industry, as you may potentially ruin a someone's big day.
- Who is the recipient? In the gifting industry, this can be difficult to know and heavily reliant on the buyer making the right choices at time of order. However, deductions can be made from the data, such as what flowers they like, when a potential birthday is etc.
- Why are they buying? Knowing the occasion can help tailor the selection of flowers available. Personalisation is the future of e-commerce and is rewarded when you get it right.
- What do they need? Your customers expect you to be the expert; they’re not florists, so your packages must be designed to a high degree. Pantone trends, colours and brands all influence the bouquets on offer.
- Where are they? Whilst Bloom and Wild fit through 99% of all mailboxes, not all counties have a Royal Mail system or even a mailbox. Parisians favour a pigeon hole system, whilst some countries have no delivery service at all. Bloom and Wild are currently expanding into new territories, their advice is to pick markets and do it gradually, testing not only the technology, but finding solutions to geographical differences.
- How do they feel? You want to make a good impression on both the recipient and the buyer, instantly winning two fans of your brand. Accurate warehouse integration here is key. You don’t want to promise what you can’t deliver and disappoint both parties.
Bloom and Wild are a good example of technology breaking traditional markets. We have Uber for taxis, Casper for mattresses and now an innovative solution for quick and convenient gift delivery.
Their secret? Design with a mobile first approach, especially important for those forgetful customers ordering on the move. The Bloom and Wild app is simple, swipeable and with an easy to navigate checkout. Importantly, an app allows notifications and reminders to be set, allowing Bloom and Wild to promote personal and seasonal products and grow their customer base year on year. Embrace technology and automate where possible.
“80% of transactions are automated, apps and bots are changing the structure of customer purchasing. Therefore, companies must embrace bot platforms and digital concierge.” - Aaron Gelbard, CEO and co-founder of Bloom and Wild.
To sum up, the customer isn’t unreasonable or difficult. Simply, innovations in technology and supply chain mean the bar is set a lot higher for e-commerce retailers to satisfy growing demands. Customers are no longer satisfied with untraceable, inconvenient delivery. They are suspicious of sites with a poorly functioning mobile experience that is inaccessible using 4g. And they revel in market disruptors that save them time and money.
It all comes full circle to operating a customer first approach. They want cheap, convenient, high-quality products, at a time that suits them, from wherever they are. And they wanted it yesterday.
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