by Joshua Whitney Allen

Teleflora and IBM Commerce offer customers a personal touch

Published May 15, 2015


For Mother’s Day, anniversaries, and simple moments of sympathy, flowers remain a classic, appreciated expression of any emotion—a timeless value that Internet retail has come to thrive upon. But what about the mom-and-pop?

Today, small business florists face increasing competition from big box retailers, grocery chains, and new e-commerce outfits. According to IBISWorld, while overall spending on flowers has stayed even, smaller florists have seen sales slide nearly 40 percent in the past few years to $5.9 billion in 2014 from $9.4 billion in 2006.

Yet one of the biggest players in the flower industry prioritizes both the personal touch that consumers want and the expertise these small stores offer. Los Angeles-based Teleflora relies on small-scale businesses to run its operational model, fulfilling online orders through local florists, who prepare arrangements with a craftsmanship lacking in big-box stores. The nearly 80-year-old company has steadily adapted to the digital age with clever IT engagements—and now announces a promising collaboration with IBM Commerce that shows the significance of personal marketing to modern trade.

IBM Commerce is Big Blue’s customer-interaction offering, merging marketing, analytics, and communications with back-office responsibilities like payments and ordering. The intent is to enable users to address all aspects of the customer experience—humanizing the buyer’s relationship with the seller.

Teleflora’s use of IBM Commerce demonstrates how the modern Internet business sees marketing as a game of analysis and interaction, with services tailored to the lives of every customer. Personalized reminder emails will alert buyers of upcoming milestones—birthdays, retirement parties—specific to their families and friendships. With a function aimed to support lead generation, transactional messages like delivery confirmations will include calls for the customer to subscribe to the company’s marketing emails.

The personalized touch that small stores offer is incredibly appealing to consumers. Speaking to, industry pro Marianne Suess comments: “We can get fairly nice roses and flowers and plants at the grocery stores; however, the design aspect is not there,” says Suess. “[Florists] can pick up and say, ‘No, we can’t really compete with the product itself so much anymore, but there is creativity in our design.’”

According to a release, Teleflora markets to a variety of audiences, including a consumer team that targets the purchasers directly; services, which markets to and implements digital marketing campaigns on behalf of the network of florists; and partnership marketing, which markets to and develops strategic partnerships with relevant companies.

Throughout the modern consumer culture, personalization has become a crucial expectation for buyers the world over. According to Monetate and Econsultancy, 94 percent of marketers agree that personalization of the web experience is critical to success. asserts that companies that deployed a lead nurturing campaign saw an average 20 percent increase in sales opportunities and found improvements to key conversion stages in the sales process.

For marketers, there is opportunity in the hope people now have for messaging related to their interests. Tech firm Janrain found that consumers would gladly give up the conveniences of life—and even the pleasures—for custom content. A 2013 poll found that 7 percent of adults engaged online would lose their patience and leave a website if shown an ad asking for donations from the political party they dislike the most. 74 percent of respondents said they grew frustrated with websites that feature content, offers, ads, and promotions that have nothing to do with their interests. The study found that people would give up chocolate, their mobile phone—sex, even—for relevant content.

“Customers today are flooded with marketing messages,” says Deepak Advani, General Manager, IBM Commerce. “With only 21 percent of consumers defining communications from brands as ‘usually’ relevant, companies must find a way to stand out. To be successful, they must provide information that is not only relevant and timely, but also interesting and useful to the customer at the right time. Individualization is key to marketing success, and this is something Teleflora … continues to advance.”

“The way consumers shop for flowers has evolved to a much more digital model,” says Totran Radke, Senior Manager of Online Marketing at Teleflora. “As the only online floral company to work 100 percent with locally owned, ‘mom-and-pop’ florists, highlighting our value from big-box stores is vital to success. To do this, we have to incorporate extremely targeted, personalized digital marketing campaigns to keep the Teleflora brand top of mind.”



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