Founded three years ago, online florist, Bloom & Wild, has launched a truly modern business, from its slick mobile application and web offering, to its two-hour delivery window and innovatively fitting flowers through the letterbox.

"We think it should be a real joy to both send and receive flowers and we weren't sure that was the case," Aron Gelbard, co-founder and CEO of Bloom & Wild, tells Essential eCommerce. "We wanted to rethink how everything was being done for the modern age and create the best possible experience for buying and receiving flowers."

While buying flowers on the mobile app can be done in as little as 30 seconds, Bloom & Wild had to rethink how flowers were delivered in an age where customers have more fulfilment choices than ever, from click & collect to collection lockers. Gelbard thought why should fresh flowers be treated any differently.

"Senders think they don't want to send flowers because it is a hassle for the recipient to wait in, or they even have to phone the recipient and tell them to stay in to receive the bouquet – which ruins the surprise."

The majority of Bloom & Wild's bouquets fit through a recipient's letter box, which provides the e-tailer with a big point of difference in the market.

Supply chain

Gelbard says the business spent a long time selecting growers in order to reduce steps in the supply chain and make sure the flowers arrive as fresh as possible.

"Customers are trusting us with that important emotion," he says. "There was a lot of trial and error with the packaging at the beginning and it was a very iterative process. We thought we had finalised the design and it took a few months to realise we needed holes in the bottom of the box to keep air circulating which otherwise leads to a disease in flowers."

Taking inspiration from similar products on the market – including Graze.com – Bloom & Wild also offers a subscription service, which is how Gelbard originally envisioned the business developing.

"But the vast majority is one-off purchases," he says. "We used to have two calls to action on the homepage – set up a subscription or buy a gift – but we sold so many more gifts we have decided to focus the business on that."

Fulfilment

Gelbard says the flower gift subscription market is an interesting place to compete. With eCommerce being a large driver of the number of various subscription services available, he says the ones that do well are for products consumed at a regular rate, such as coffee or pet food.

"Where it gets more discretionary or impulse – and flowers fall into this – is where it interests some people, but isn't a disaster if you run out of flowers and have to wait a day or so."

Bloom & Wild uses Royal Mail for its next-day letterbox bouquets, but it has recently partnered with Shutl to offer a two-hour delivery window in London.

"We started to get feedback from customers for an on-demand service," he says. "We've seen this model take off in the US and other categories in the UK and people are increasingly ordering product and services in an on-demand fashion and expecting them immediately.

"And with more modern mobile tech-forward start-ups like Uber and Deliveroo, people are increasingly used to consuming in that way, so we just want to be responsive to that and be a part of that movement."

The service is currently available in Central and West London on special "two-hour" bouquets which are distributed from a specific depot in Battersea, but Gelbard hopes to expand these depots across the capital and into other cities in the future.

He says Shutl was an obvious choice due to its scale and reliability. "We also liked that they were backed by eBay because we wanted to choose a partner we know is still going to be around for a long while because the integration can be a lot of work."

Alongside the Battersea depot, Bloom & Wild operates out of two other warehouses in the flower capital of the UK – Lincolnshire. The company now employs 25 people who look after technology, marketing and product design, but the flowers are packed in the special letter-box designs directly by the growers to ensure freshness.

Technology

The Bloom & Wild website has been rebuilt from scratch after first offshoring the development. "We found the progress was too slow and the end product wasn't up to standard," explains Gelbard. "So after our second round of angel seed funding, we were able to hire in-house developers, a number of which come from companies like Graze and Pact Coffee."

Being able to develop the website from scratch has allowed Bloom & Wild to "break some of the eCommerce rules", such as not implementing a basket because customers are typically buying one bouquet at a time, and if they do buy two they will be going to two different addresses.

As well as a mobile web offering which allows customers to buy their flowers on a single webpage, the business also produced a mobile app. "We turn emotions into actions and people experience these mobile triggers on the go."

Gelbard describes how a customer might see on Facebook that it is somebody's birthday – or the app reminds them – and loyal customers can easily buy flowers on the go.

"People can store birthdays as a reminder, integrate their address book and pay with Apple Pay, rather than the need to input data which can be fiddly to do standing on the train when you have to get out your credit card," he says. "But if you're on the train and get a notification that it's someone's birthday tomorrow, you can take 30 seconds to pick the flowers on the app, click on the address book and thumbprint to pay – if you go onto Google, pinch and zoom and are faced with a 30-page form to fill in, it's a much more unappealing proposition."

This article has been amended slightly (2 March) from the original published in January to reflect Gelbard's involvement in the RBTE conference. He will be speaking on 9 March at 14:10 in the eCommerce Theatre, talking about supply chain and fulfilment innovation in eCommerce.

To attend RBTE 9-10 March for free, click here.