1-800-Flowers embraced ChatGPT and live shopping in the lead-up to Mother’s Day

On April 27, 1-800-Flowers hosted its first live shopping event ahead of Mother’s Day.
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The 1-800-Flowers moniker derives from a telephone number the company acquired in 1986, but the company has evolved way beyond that technology since then.

Ahead of Mother’s Day, the company’s second-biggest shopping period behind the December holidays, 1-800-Flowers debuted a new ChatGPT feature called “MomVerse,” which creates unique poems and songs for a recipient. Additionally, on April 27, the company hosted its first livestream shopping event where four moms shared curated selections from four of 1-800-Flowers’s brands, including Personalization Mall, Cheryl’s Cookies, and Harry & David.

Artificial intelligence and live shopping are the latest examples of how 1-800-Flowers is embracing new technology that CEO Chris McCann said will better engage its customers and lead to increased purchases and higher retention.

  • “The more innovation we can bring, the more we can keep them engaged. And the more we can keep them engaged, the longer they’ll stick around,” McCann told Retail Brew.

Front and center: Because of the user-friendly nature of ChatGPT, 1-800-Flowers has opted to promote it at several touchpoints, including its homepage, emails, and social channels, McCann said. The company has also introduced an offering in some of its stores that lets customers copy a song or poem onto a greeting card to be accompanied by a gift bundle or just sent as a standalone digital product.

  • “It doesn’t cost any money—they can come to us, they can send a free greeting card to the important people in their lives,” McCann said. “We believe if we’re going to be a relationship company, we want to give you opportunities to do so for free, or for $5, $10, or $100, whatever it might be.”

Live shopping events are new for 1-800-Flowers, but the pandemic pushed the company to offer online classes like floral design and charcuterie design. Now, McCann said it’s just a matter of being able to move content from the offline world to the online world to make live shopping work.

Looking ahead: McCann believes that while it’s early, customers have taken to 1-800-Flowers’s ChatGPT offering. He thinks the next useful application of AI could be voice integration, which some companies are now experimenting with.

  • AI firm SoundHound recently introduced a voice AI integration for restaurants’ POS systems that can accept orders from customers over the phone, menu kiosks, or drive-thrus and send them directly to the platform.

“One thing that we’ve learned over the years in this business is not to get involved and try and predict what might happen,” he said. “I’ve learned that technology changes consumer behavior, and it’s our job to be there early and learn right along with the customer."

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