You'd think that with the evolution of the Internet and more people going online to shop, retailers would become further removed from customers and less personal. I was surprised to find out that 1-800-Flowers.com is doing exactly the opposite. It's hoping that advancements in technology will help the company go back to its roots.
You'd think that with the evolution of the Internet and more people going online to shop, retailers would become further removed from customers and less personal. I was surprised to find out that 1-800-Flowers.com is doing exactly the opposite. It's hoping that advancements in technology will help the company go back to its roots.I spent this morning and early afternoon in Basking Ridge, N.J., where Verizon Business (a unit of Verizon Communications) held a media and analyst event at its global operations hub. A highlight of the event was a panel discussion with Verizon's customers: 1-800-Flowers and Viacom.
I found 1-800-Flowers, the world's largest florist, to be a particularly interesting example of a company that "has become the customers' florist through progression of the Web over the past five years," according to the company's founder and CEO Jim McCann.
1-800-Flowers is well known for its flower delivery service in the United States and overseas. However, increasingly the company has been focusing on content, meaning its goal is to help customers with celebratory occasions like birthdays, graduations, and baby showers, which can include everything from flowers to chocolates to gift baskets, or a combination of all three.
"In the next 14 to 15 months, we're going to become a completely customer-engaged company. We want to service customers globally with products and gifts, and increasingly content," said McCann, during the panel discussion.
On the IT side, 1-800-Flowers is spending $25 million a year on technology, a quarter of which is dedicated to products and services from Verizon Business, including communications and broadband technologies.
"What we're trying to do with technology and our network of 9,000 florists is to the recreate the same comfortable and personal experience I had years ago with my first flower shop," McCann added.
In the near future, 1-800-Flowers plans to launch a new line of products in partnership with Verizon Wireless. This will include virtual gifts and tangible gifts that younger consumers will be able to purchase via their mobile phones.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
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