October 4, 2011, 4:27 PM

HaleGroves.com shoppers can now send gifts to multiple recipients on different dates

The gifts retailer offers the kind of flexibility online that its call center agents provide.

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Cataloger and online food and gifts retailer Southern Fulfillment Services LLC has enhanced its shopping cart so that customers can specify multiple delivery dates up to 12 months in advance.

Southern Fulfillment, No. 588 in Internet Retailer’s Second 500 Guide, says it is aiming to bring to its web site the same flexibility that consumers have when they call on the phone and speak to a customer service agent.

“The driver behind this was that it mirrors our catalog process, where customers call us and say, ‘I want to order all my gifts, but need them delivered on different dates, by different delivery methods, each with a different gift message,’” says internet marketing manager Daryl Logullo. “Some would call it impossible.”

Logullo says the retailer began shipping to multiple addresses in 2008, but has in recent months refined its custom-built shopping cart by adding the interactive shipping calendar and the ability to ship 12 months in advance.

When a shopper on HaleGroves.com and EilenbergerBakery.com adds an item to her cart, a pop-up box asks her whether she wants the item shipped to herself or someone else. If she selects someone else, she will then be asked that person’s name and have the option of adding a gift message.

If that customer adds another item to her cart, a pop- up box will ask her if she wants that item shipped to herself, the first recipient or someone else, and the process repeats for each product the customer adds. Upon checkout, shoppers are able to select multiple arrival dates, as well as shipping methods and recipient addresses.

In testing the new features on shoppers that had never visited the site before, the response was overwhelmingly positive, Logullo says. Eight out of 10 people appreciated the feature. They said things like, ‘I think this site is the easiest I've ever seen for shipping gifts to other people.’“

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