The floral industry drastically differs from most in that it doesn’t adhere to the practice of simply pushing product. It is an emotional industry, present in every important milestone a human being could have. Flowers for a new mom, a child’s First Communion, a romantic date, a break-up, your wedding day, a job promotion, a funeral, even simply to say you’re sorry; whatever the reason may be, it’s likely that a florist provided a beautiful floral arrangement, specifically designed for the occasion and the feelings it conjures.
As a florist, you have a valuable talent for translating emotion into art. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a connection between two people and strengthen relationships. You’re the town therapist, spiritual healer, and matchmaker. You are the guide, helping customers navigate the path to becoming the gift-giving hero. For florists to continue to play the role they are meant to play, this level of attention and personal interaction must translate from their physical shop to their website. By providing conversational commerce, florists can convey this direct representation of the in-store shopping experience that customers want when buying flowers. In short, your website should have manners.
Most e-commerce professionals have heard the term, “The Buyer’s Journey.” Here at Lovingly, we call the end-to-end floral gifting experience “The Gifter’s Journey.” This approach looks at each stage of the process – from a sender’s initial online search all the way to a recipient sharing their delight – as an equally integral part driving conversions, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.
In short, the key to a successful, profitable website is to provide visitors with great user experience. Users must not only feel comfortable and secure, but remain unfrustrated during the course of their experience, from start to finish. Your website must be polite, in a sense. It must have manners.
One area that’s glaring and often in need of a makeover is the online checkout. For example, if a customer is going through your online checkout and misses a particular field, instead of providing a polite and immediate reminder such as, “Oops! You missed this field right here,” many websites will wait until the customer hits the submit button at the very end of the page before alerting them to missing information. This provides an inferior user experience, particularly if the missed field is located at the very top of the checkout page. The user must now scroll back up, search for what it is that they missed, and scroll back down to, once again, submit their purchase (if they stick around long enough to remain committed to purchasing from you!).
While buying anything online runs the risk of frustration on the consumer side, buying flowers online is typically even more frustrating. Not only is your first customer sending a gift, so the user doesn’t see the exact product they’re purchasing, but they are also blindly relying on a third party to do a job that reflects how they want to be portrayed to your second customer, the recipient. That’s two parties to please, and two opportunities for things to go wrong. Gifting someone flowers is an emotive experience, but the actual process of purchasing an arrangement is typically twice as long as any other online purchase. The user must know not only their own personal information, but also the recipient’s information in order to complete the transaction. The checkout can become especially difficult if the user is sending flowers to a non-residential address such as a business or retail location. Therefore, providing an auto-fill lookup for corporate addresses is another way a website demonstrates ‘manners.’
A major headache in the checkout process is simply the amount of information required. Most floral websites have over 40 points of decision making, like form fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, information tooltips, and CTA buttons for customers to complete(!!). An efficient website provider will require only half of that.
In addition to the lengthy logistics, the user is now expected to become a poet of sorts and create a beautiful yet concise piece of content they hope will connect with their recipient. Guiding your user through the message writing process eliminates frustration and the time-consuming process of fumbling through the card message portion of the checkout, encouraging the visitor to convert. Don’t ask them unnecessary questions, such as the occasion, which is already provided via their navigation. Instead, pre-suggest card messages based on the occasion and utilize memory trigger prompts to guide them through creating their message (i.e., “The song _______ always makes me think of you, because _______.)
The speed of your website is another critical factor in providing the best user experience possible. Let’s start with Google. With over 200 variables that make up Google’s algorithm, a large portion of that algorithm looks at the speed of your site If you want your website to rank higher on Google, the speed of your website must be fast. The optimization of site speed is absolutely vital. The problem many florists have is that their websites tend to be on the slower side.
Speed is another reason to keep your checkout process as seamless as possible, and it’s essential to the success of your website; the longer the entire shopping experience lasts, the more likely the user is to become frustrated with the entire process.
When it comes to floral websites, there is a 3-second rule. Visitors need to know in three short seconds:
If a user looks at your homepage and can not tell what you do in three seconds, they will leave and shop elsewhere.
The entire experience, wrapped with a bow
Again, buying flowers is an extremely emotional experience. The act of giving a floral arrangement will always hold emotion and meaning. But it’s not just about the flowers themselves. It’s about the entire experience: the arrangement, the beautiful, heartfelt card message, the way that the gifter feels after purchasing; are they frustrated and annoyed after the process is finished, or are they excited for the recipient to receive the flowers they sent? Were the flowers delivered on the correct day? How did the recipient feel upon receiving their flowers? Were they provided with a quick and easy way to let the sender know how happy they are, such as a QR-powered ‘Thanks!’ These are all crucial pieces of the puzzle. The entire system is at risk if any one of these factors is less than perfect.
Florists who recognize that their job doesn’t end once they design a beautiful floral arrangement will naturally flourish. Successful florists understand that they serve as the guide through a positive end-to-end experience. The florist plays a crucial role in building and nurturing human relationships. This is why we at Lovingly call florists “Momentmakers.” After years working in the floral industry and seeing firsthand the disconnect between the online and offline flower shop experience, I created Lovingly Funnels to bring this conversational commerce to the single industry that genuinely needs it, because for every occasion in anyone’s life, chances are, flowers were involved. Flowers are a sign that winter is over and spring has indeed come once again. Humans have a physiological response to flowers; therefore, the giving of flowers should never be reduced to vague product selection online. That’s what makes the need for floral e-commerce websites to provide an experience far above and beyond the technology of any simple retail site.