In recent years, India has seen the rise of many e-commerce portals that promise to deliver flowers in the major cities in India. Some of them are from established stores, and others are aggregators of florists or distributors of orders. Being a staunch supporter of digital, I tried to send flowers through two such portals. I couldn’t. But gained insights into customer experience, or rather the lack of it through the pain points.
Sending or Receiving Flowers: In “Customer Experience” Customer Remains Sans Experience.
When we book a bouquet using a portal, it is mostly because either we want to greet the person in our absence or want to surprise that person. And all the websites I checked were asking for the recipient’s mobile number in their booking forms. This kills the joy of opening the door to find a statement in petals waiting. We can certainly do a lot better to up the user experience, or recipient experience rather.
A few of the e-commerce portals have help desks. I called the help desk of a portal, that also has a string of stores, to check if they could book an order without asking for a mobile number. The desk said ‘not possible’ and asked me to check with the brand’s store close by.
When I asked the help desk why I should provide a phone number when I mentioned the address, the desk said sometimes delivery could be a challenge as the door might be locked. So, the delivery boys always contact the recipient on the phone. Fair enough. But isn’t there a way to work around this challenge? Also, why should I give a mobile number for a midnight delivery? Surely people are home. And how about delivering to a corporate office? They publicize only their landline numbers, rarely their mobile numbers. How should a customer book a bouquet in this case? And how about delivering flowers to someone who is always on the go?
The conversation also taught me that the online portal and the chain of shops of the florist are two different lines of business and don’t work in tandem. I didn’t know whether that was the truth, but I hung up with a feeling of being short-changed. Because I am one of those customers, who sees the brand name on the portal and in the neighborhood and assumes that the brand works seamlessly. Or is the brand leveraging its brand name, built originally with multiple stores, for its online portal while denying the benefits of a chain of shops with an online presence that attracts more conversions? Or are the margins not enough?
My point is simple. No matter who we are, where we live, and what we speak and eat, receiving a bouquet is a beautiful and touching experience. We should not dilute this experience. Everything else is a detail and should be worked through. Period.
Can we use geo-tagging? That helps us locate the person and deliver no matter where she is.
What Kind: Bouquet or an Arrangement?
Some people want to send bouquets, and others want standing arrangements, depending on the occasion and the recipient. Let’s assume that you want to send a bouquet to one of your customers. Will you book a bouquet or a floral arrangement? I feel bouquets are more appropriate for in-person greetings, but arrangements are better when you are sending flowers.
All portals have a huge collection of bouquets but only some arrangements that stand vertically or horizontally. Many photographs are without size. And many pixellate. Or the selection forms don’t show sizes or dimensions. Now, how do I choose?
Colors: What Color is Your Occasion?
Colour of flowers is the most important ingredient of an arrangement. But many websites say that they will replace the flowers if the flowers shown in the photographs are not available. But I haven’t come across a single website that assures that they would take care of the color when replacing seasonal flowers with other flowers.
Also, I didn’t see good color play in the low-end offerings. I believe people with all budgets deserve great floral statements.
Craftsmen: Trained Hand or None?
What elevates a floral arrangement is the interplay of flowers, foliage, colors, space, geometry, and accents.
Not many arrangements show the hand of a trained florist. In fact, a person trained in floral arrangements can create beautiful, graceful, and enigmatic statements without using too many flowers or material. And buyers don’t have to be connoisseurs of flowers to recognize something that is simple yet powerful.
A trained florist can dramatically bring down the cost of an arrangement thereby increasing the conversions on the e-commerce portal.
Any florist listening?
What I See is Not What I Get.
Let’s agree that flowers are a highly visual experience for all of us. Some portal allows me to pick up a vase as an upgrade but doesn’t show me how the arrangement looks like on adding the vase. Isn’t that less than perfect?
If I finally get to book a bouquet, I never get to see how it looks like at the time of delivery. This is the easiest to accomplish. Take a photo, with the recipient if possible, on delivery and send it with the delivery note to the customer. It is that simple, indeed.
What Should We Do?
I remember William Blake, the 18th century poet: “No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”
Let’s meet to discuss how we can together deliver the best customer experience to your e-commerce customer.
— By Surya Prabha Vallae