FTD Rolls Out New Online Tools in Bid to Expand SMB Florist Network Adoption
After nearly a decade of underinvestment in its tech stack, DFT began making significant investments in solutions in early 2020, centered on its upgraded Mercury HQ (MHQ) solution. The next step for the 112 years old The flower and gift brand is offering its florist partners updated functionality within its new MercuryOnline (MOL) platform, powered by Shopify, which FTD CTO Matt Powell describes as “how digital commerce interfaces with in-store operations.”
Through its MOL, MHQ and Mercury networks, FTD has integrated cable service, point of sale and e-commerce to offer:
- A mobile first user experience;
- Intuitive tools that create faster, search-friendly experiences for more traffic and customer conversion;
- Real-time order updates on all devices;
- Shipping cost adjustment capabilities;
- Order deadlines;
- In-store pick-up planning; and
- A customizable platform that offers greater control to every florist.
During the next six month, FTD plans to add features such as automated customer email tracking, social media integration, digital zoom tools, and payment integration with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
“One of my strategic pillars is to attract the highest quality members through inspired apps that support the different ways they do business for increase margin per member, improve customer experience and improve network health“Powell said in an interview with Retail Touch Points.
Part of FTD’s growth plan is to grow from approximately 2,000 florist member clients currently using the platform for at least 5,000 in the next two years.
“Our mission is to reduce barriers to entry for entrepreneursand one of the ways we do that is by helping businesses around the world find the best ways to engage with their customers and reach new audiences,” explained Mark Bergen, vice president of Shopify in an interview with Retail Touch Points. “FTD demonstrates a similar passion in its latest venture [with] MercuryOnline, which will open up new growth opportunities for thousands individual florists.
How FTD is making digital adoption easier for florists
Helping florists adopt digital capabilities that align with new consumer shopping habits is a priority for FTD, and the company is trying to both accelerate and ease the transition for the florists it works with. . As Powell noted, 30 years ago, most gift retail businesses relied on walk-in customers.
“Now just to access the same amount of opportunity that is in your geography, you have to do walk-in, phone, text, social, your website and other people’s websites and maybe you want to do DoorDash, Uber and other marketplaces,” Powell said. “Just to get a picture, you have to be in [all] these places.
Given the scale of the change and the relatively low level of technology proficiency within its network, FTD realized that simply providing a platform to its members was not enough. The company needed to incorporate technology that would address the specific needs of the gift retail space, such as the ability to update catalog and business information. across business channels, manage delivery services and oversee inventory while staying in full control of business operations.
“MOL provides ‘one-stop shopping’ for these small business florists,” Bergen explained. “With MOL, florists with no technical experience or large teams can create a fully operational online store, powered by Shopify, with access to FTD’s network, product catalog, and more.”
For its part, FTD uses the platform to gather customer details that will enable its member florist customers to provide exceptional service, including being able to better anticipate customer requests.
“If you have a relationship with a local florist and you bought flowers for your mother online last year because of the pandemic and you think she really liked them, maybe you want to get something like that, but different,” Powell said. “In our system, if you go to that same florist and ask, ‘What did I send my mom last year?,’ they see everything, cross the channel.”
Applying New-School Technology to Old-School Customer Service
While FTD started out as a collective of florists dedicated to their craft, Powell noted that the company strayed a bit, eventually treating its members as “enemies.” Since Powell joined the company in 2020, that mindset has returned to the original intention of serving florists, but with a high-tech twist – giving them the latest tools that will deliver the best service to their customers. .
“Our attitude is that members are most important“, said Powell. “They are what makes us, and we want to provide customers and consumers with exceptional experiences. Our whole vibe is different now. We are obsessed with how we can bring the best members with the best tools. This is how we believe we attract the people who enable us to do the best for our customers.
Building on the work that’s already been done, Powell has some big ideas for keeping these small businesses in the giveaway game. By continuing to develop digital capabilities for members, Powell wants automate workflows so customers can visit a local florist and place an order that will actually be fulfilled by another business, in another city, through their network. The florist through whom the order is placed receives a percentage for wiring the order and the customer experience is kept simple. Powell’s mission is to create space for these small businesses to grow while competing with larger sellers.
” From our point of view, healthy members mean a healthy network and there’s more than enough for everyone,” Powell said. “If we don’t work hard to keep these people in digital commerce, they’re just going to be destroyed by boring gray boxes. There’s a place for it, but there is also a place for the dynamic small entrepreneur.” Florists Telegraph Delivery, for which FTD was the original acronym, “was founded on the idea of moving love through time and space. That’s what the word ‘Telegraph’ was for. Now the way to do it is totally different.