Adopting an omnichannel strategy has become the go-strategy for brands given the need for engaging with consumers at every point. Being an accomplished brand in offline retail and then moving onto online, flower and gifts retailer Ferns N Petals (FNP) has been successful in terms of building its customer base online.
It has in fact doubled its online revenue in the last three years and has a very strong loyalty with over 60 percent repeatability of customers. Reportedly, it is India's largest flower and gifts retailer and one of the world’s largest flower retailers.
“The omnichannel strategy is certainly adding value to the customer journey life cycle, where the customer requires both online and offline based on the type of need – we have observed our customers visiting both the channels. Hence, we are trying to expand our retail shop network beyond the current over 400 including both the flower and cake shops,” said Sai Tota, Head Digital -Marketing, Ferns N Petals.
The brand engages customers in the following touchpoints: online properties viz., the websites, the app; call-centre (across the channels of phone, email, chat, etc.), offline stores, the marketing touchpoints viz., email, push notifications, SMS, etc., and the customer data platform (CDP) that the company has built internally.
Technological Adoption and Its Challenges
The major reason why brands like Ferns N Petals have been growing in recent times is due to the rapid technological adoption that these brands were able to successfully integrate.
Vasanth Kamathgi, CTO (Chief Technical Officer), Ferns N Petals talks about the areas they are currently undertaking: “We are doing lots of work with cloud computing and cloud engineering and lots of work is being done in the integration of the payment options. We are also working on creating our wallet integrated with most of the state-of-the-art payment options whether it is Gpay or PhonePe.”
'Content dynamism' is another major area of development happening in recent times, which the company is actively working upon. It is about giving complete control to your business administrators to command the overall content part and also kind of editing personalized content for a respective user.
To illustrate, in the case of FNP, if somebody is landing on the www.fnp.com from the US - and if the business user wants that if somebody lands on the website from the US, then they should see X content with Y image or, say, Y layout - so, those kinds of things are completely controlled by the business users. This means the technology-based system, wherewith just by a few commands from their panel, they can control the overall interface and what kind of content they want to display on any kind of condition.
However, along with these high-end tech adoptions, many challenges come in the way that prevents a firm from performing at expected optimum levels.
“The biggest challenge is knowledge acquisition and knowledge development. Since you move towards new technology and since you find the problem which can be solved using the new technology, you need to acquire the knowledge also. So, that entire rigorous process of training is something which is a challenge and I think it is for the entire industry,” Kamathgi stated.
Another major challenge is that of spectrum compatibility. Kamathgi added, “If you build a new system, but you don’t know how compatible it will be with various other devices - there are new devices that are being introduced every day, new phones are getting launched, new software are getting launched.”
Currently, with 260 flower shops in 105 cities, the company has been working towards digitization of all its brick-and-mortar stores and the company achieved the same by Google business listing and creating social media pages (Facebook/ Instagram) of every store which we keep on propagating from time to time with the new arrival of designs/ occasion.
In India, 80 percent of flowers sold in India are in an unorganized market by roadside vendors, local florists, and itinerant sellers. Among organized markets, Ferns N Petals, Flowercompany, Interflora, Giftsnflowers, etc. are some of the major players in the market. In fact, Ferns N Petals has been the first firm in India to venture into the flower business in an organized fashion.
The demand for flowers in India has always been robust despite the market has hit the last two years. With occasions like marriages, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. again picking up pace, the market is only going to foster in the coming days, if not further hampered by a third wave.
However, despite being a lucrative field, a major barrier to entry in the flower sector is the need to build storage and supply capability to handle the flowers. This also prevents a flower business to sustain throughout the year.
To make the supply chain processes seamless, FNP uses emergent tech “Robotix” to solve the overall logistics and supply chain management system. In fact, a lot of IoT-based Robotix-based solutions are being adopted in offline systems: logistics, supply chain management, along with delivery.
Founded in 1994, the venture started with a single store under the entrepreneurship of Vikaas Gutgutia, which has now emerged as a reputed brand with 12 verticals under the FNP umbrella. Today, the firm has 12 verticals namely, FNP Retail & Franchising, FNP E-commerce (India, UAE, Singapore), FNP cakes ‘N’ More, FNP Gardens, FNP Weddings & Events, FNP Floral Touch (UAE), WDH (Wedding Design Hub), Flowers ‘N’ More, FNP Flagship, Sipping Thoughts, FNP Water and FNP Media.