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For Valentine’s Day, 1-800-Flowers Enlists Alexa, Okay Google, And Facebook Chatbots To Play Cupid

The florist chain is using virtual assistants -- and an Apple Pay discount -- to go "beyond the wow," says Tom Hartnett, President, 1-800-Flowers Digital.

Along with romantic restaurant reservations for Valentine’s Day, the other major spending category for the holiday is buying flowers. And in keeping with florist and gifts chain 1-800-Flowers’ heavy focus on using Connected Intelligence, the company is pulling in “virtual assistance” from Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

The Long Island, NY-based chain, which operates 125 U.S. retail locations nationally, is expanding its use of Amazons’ Alexa, Google Assistant (“Okay Google”), and Facebook Messenger Chatbots as the foundation of its promise to make it “easier than ever to win hearts this Valentine’s Day.”

The voice-activated assistants and messaging platform are offering “new ways to shop on-the-go, opportunities to save big, concierge advice, a destination for enhanced order status tracking and more, the gift-giving experience has never been more convenient or stress-free,” the company says.

1-800-Flowers’ GWYN, At Your Virtual Service

In addition to those outside platforms, 1-800-Flowers is also relying on itsown AI-powered concierge, “GWYN.” An acronym for “Gifts When You Need,” GWYN debuted in 2016 and is powered by IBM’s Watson AI program.

For Valentine’s Day, GWYN “creates an intuitive shopping experience for customers, by asking contextually relevant questions, then builds up a detailed understanding of what the gift-giver is looking for and provides the best options in real time,” the company says in a release outlining its Valentine’s Day plans. “Shoppers can then quickly add the perfect gift to their shopping cart.”

Mobile shoppers can order from 1-800-Flowers.com via chat or voice across a variety of platforms. For example, customers can easily order popular floral arrangements on Google Assistant-enabled Android devices and iPhones (“Hey Google, talk to 1-800-Flowers”) for delivery nationwide.

They can also use Google Assistant to shop selections from the brand’s “Fresh from the Farm” collection on Google Express (“Buy roses”)

Enhanced Alexa Skills

1-800-Flowers.com has also added an enhanced voice-activated Alexa skill with “one-shot intent” for more streamlined dialog (“Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to send my wife roses…”). To complete the transaction without having to do anything else,  the 1-800-Flowers Alexa skill also syncs up automatically with Amazon Pay.

Elsewhere, the same gift-giving seamlessness for consumers can be found via Facebook Messenger chatbot, which can also connect the social messaging app’s users with an actual person on 1-800-Flowers.com’s customer service team for quick assistance regarding order questions.

“We are committed to delivering an exceptional shopping experience this Valentine’s Day, with innovation in the way customers can interact with us, exclusive deals providing great value and a beautiful new collection of truly original arrangements,” says Tom Hartnett, President, 1-800-Flowers.com. “Backed by a caring team obsessed with service, we are ready to make it easy for gift-givers to deliver a smile and go ‘beyond the wow’ in the weeks ahead.”

Voice Is The UI Of The Future — Now

Last month, at the NRF Big Show retail conference, Chris McCann, president and CEO of 1-800-Flowers, discussed the company’s use of voice-activation and AI as coming full circle for the 42-year-old company.

After all, the brand’s identity is wrapped up in the use of technology and speaking.

“It all comes back to voice,” McCann said at the conference. “Our company a couple of years from now will look radically different than it does today, on how we interact and how we engage with our customers. We’re leveraging AI technologies to deliver more personalized customer experience.

“We’re continuing to move the needle forward there. Voice is the UI of the future… And with those technologies behind our marketing, we believe we’re in the midst of another transformation of our company.”

Among the various other ways 1-800-Flowers is using the Knowledge Graph to connect with shoppers include:

  • Mobile and app customers can get special offers from Apple Pay and the iOS App Store
  • Eligible PayPal customers can access exclusive 1-800-Flowers.com savings across desktop, mobile, web and apps
  • Consumers shopping on Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger can check the chatbots for exclusive deals on select floral arrangements
  • Shoppers are encouraged to visit 1-800-Flowers.com and sign up for email alerts to receive updates in real-time about special rose offers and other savings
About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.