While flowers may immediately come to mind when you hear the name, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., has actually significantly evolved over the years to become a dynamic e-commerce platform. The company now has a family of over a dozen gifting and sharing brands, including PersonalizationMall.com®, Harry & David®, Cheryl’s Cookies®, and more.

Through differentiated products and unique services, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. helps customers express, connect, and celebrate with the most important people in their lives.

Since its inception 45 years ago, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. has embraced new and emerging technologies to meet the needs of customers. This includes acquiring the 1-800-FLOWERS phone number in 1986, becoming AOL’s first merchant partner in 1994, and most recently, launching a new Celebrations Passport® app that provides customers with a fully integrated cross-brand mobile shopping experience. The company has also forged ahead in conversational commerce, launching on messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger and adopting a voice-first initiative with Amazon Alexa, followed by Apple Business Chat and Google Assistant.

Today, the company offers customers a seamless shopping experience across multiple digital and voice platforms. It’s also leveraging emerging technologies including AI, machine learning, and augmented reality to provide a personalized customer experience. In addition, company leaders have invested in headless commerce, which separates the front and back ends of their e-commerce platform to enable more flexibility and agility with the customer experience across devices.

Chief Information Officer of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. Inc., Arnold Leap spoke to Steve Hamm for the Rise of the Data Cloud podcast about how the company has leveraged Snowflake to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation for its customers.

Bringing New Brands Into the Data Fold

Leap said the company’s decision to move to the cloud came from a desire to virtualize resources for scalability, and to enable more productivity. 

“We need to make sure that we give our team members every possible opportunity to succeed,” said Leap. “As a CIO, how do I enable more people to do their job efficiently today? And they’re all about the cloud.”

A few years ago, the company chose Snowflake as its data solution. Today, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. has almost a petabyte of data on the Snowflake Data Cloud, with more than a thousand users in Snowflake daily.

Over the years, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. has acquired a number of brands to broaden its offerings to customers. Each brand had its own data system that needed to be integrated into the e-commerce platform. Snowflake enabled Leap’s team to quickly standardize and centralize all of the disparate data records in one location. Now, they can access hundreds of millions of data records and apply tools for reporting and advanced analytics. 

In 2019, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. acquired Shari’s Berries® and was able to incorporate it incredibly quickly. “Within six hours of closing that transaction, we were transacting Shari’s Berries on our website, collecting the order information, and pushing that into our data lake within Snowflake,” said Leap.

Leveraging Third-Party Data Easily

When COVID-19 hit,  the company had to shift its operational strategies rapidly according to changing consumer behavior. It used data sets from COVID-19 research from Johns Hopkins University, available on the Snowflake Data Marketplace, to correlate purchase behavior and predict supply and demand depending on the current health state of certain regions. 

“We needed secondary data sets and tertiary data sets to be able to augment some of our analysis,” said Leap. “We enabled the COVID data sources from the Snowflake data exchange, and we were able to give that to our analytics team within half an hour.”

“Snowflake has been an eye-opener,” said Leap. “Continuing to leverage Snowflake’s well-architected platform and have an interactive data exchange is just incredible.” 

Delighting Customers with Personalization

1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. takes personalization to the next level with its robust gifting options. Customers can express themselves directly by filling out messages or cards that can be sent along with their gifts. On the back end, this process involves harnessing a large amount of available data and personalizing it through multiple mediums including mobile devices, desktops, chat messages, or the call center. 

“All of those channels need to be fulfilled with the right data at the right time with the proper context, and Snowflake provides that,” said Leap. “Because it’s cloud-based, it gives us the ability to morph the edges of the cloud to each one of those channels differently while providing a reasonably seamless experience.” 

Leap said Snowflake’s technological advances have benefited customers, as the Data Cloud can now send data directly and securely to the company’s e-commerce platform. 

“It provides context to our website and our presentation layers to the different devices that are available. It changes the paradigm in the equation of how we deliver data to the front side, to be able to present some level of engaging interface for our customers to express themselves,” said Leap. “It’s amazing to be able to sit here and say that, versus where we were a few years ago.”

To hear the full interview, check out the Rise of the Data Cloud podcast episode “Making Your Data Blossom With Arnie Leap, CIO, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.