November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Flowers/Gifts/JewelryShoppers buying bouquets and diamonds need help

Flowers, gifts and jewelry shoppers need all the help they can get to navigate the realm of gemstones, bouquets, and myriad novelty and other items.


Flowers, gifts and jewelry shoppers need all the help they can get. The majority of shoppers in this merchandise category are not shopping for themselves—they`re looking to find just the right item for someone else. And navigating the realm of gemstones, bouquets, and myriad novelty and other items requires savvy.

Market leaders selling flowers, gifts and jewelry know this about their customers and innovate in ways that guide and support shoppers trying hard to select just the right thing. deals in a product particularly difficult for even seasoned shoppers to wrap their hands around: jewelry. This year the e-retailer redesigned its site with a major emphasis on helping shoppers understand the details and intricacies of diamonds, gemstones and precious metals. The banner across the top of the site says it all: "Education. Guidance. Diamonds and Fine Jewelry."

An Education tab appears atop every page of the site. Shoppers can click on an array of topics, including not just products but financing and insurance, to access a comprehensive library of information and tips.

Men make up the majority of customers. And frankly, men need more help than women when buying jewelry. This was top of mind when did its redesign. This was also the case when fellow online jeweler redesigned its site this year.

The number of men shopping at has been on the rise, as has the number of twentysomethings, a group with much less experience than others buying diamonds and gold. So the retailer went all out with its revamped e-commerce site. The site now includes customer reviews, product videos and product blogs written by experts in the field to help guide the uncertain and the uninitiated in their purchasing.

And yet another e-retailer launched a redesigned site this year with new tools to serve those in need of assistance., which specializes in food gift baskets, introduced customer reviews, but with a twist: Reviews are written by gift-givers and recipients. And the reviews have aided not just the customers but the e-retailer, which has realized a 20% increase in conversion for products rated four and five stars.

A blooming business
Consumers looking for a broad selection of quality gifts, a seamless and speedy online shopping experience and multiple options on how to choose and buy will find it all at The company that started as a single New York flower shop now supports gift-focused brands ranging from The Popcorn Factory to the Winetasting Network. And hasn`t just grown its offering for customers--the way it keeps embracing new technology matches the rapid growth of a bumper flower crop.

That`s one reason that as one of the web`s early retailers, the Carle Place, NY-based has not only survived, but thrived. Starting with its initial move online as a merchant on CompuServe in 1992 and its decision to become the first online retailer on AOL two years later, the company has consistently pursued new opportunities and technologies.

This year, those initiatives include a move into leading-edge online marketing and shopping arenas. This summer, 1-800-Flowers became one of a small but growing group of retailers to set up shop in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life. It`s using the experiment to learn about the phenomenon of online social networking and to interact with customers in a new way. "We look for all possible ways to get into a dialogue with our customers and Second Life provides us with a great way to do that," says president Chris McCann. also ventured into mobile commerce this spring with the launch of a mobile-dedicated site. The site sidesteps common challenges of m-commerce, including limited real estate on users` screens and download speed issues, by limiting the assortment to what time-crunched mobile shoppers are mostly likely to want: flowers or other gifts for same-day delivery.

The fast turnaround on the mobile site mirrors key get-it-done-now features on the larger site. There, Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group, has praise for functionality that lets shoppers know what can ship the same say and allows them to save time at checkout and find gifts fast. "Everything plays to a sense of urgency," she says. Back to Top

Greetings the fun way

Birthdays, Mother`s Day, holidays; consumers will send a card for any occasion, even if to just say "Thinking of You." But in today`s fast-paced world, consumers want the ability to express their sentiments on their terms, and that`s where e-cards come into play. has done its homework on helping consumers stay connected and putting their personal stamp on their greetings. Besides offering an array of colorful, animated greetings, the Cleveland-based card manufacturer has moved into m-commerce, enabling shoppers to send e-cards to mobile devices. The service, launched in August, leverages technology from Image Semantics Ltd., a Cambridge, England-based provider of applications for mobile messaging.

The move into m-commerce was driven in part by the growing population of mobile phones with color screens, which offer the best viewing capabilities for e-cards. About 80% of consumer mobile phones in the United States have color screens.

Other technical innovations include the ability to add photos and videos and allowing shoppers to mouse over the card and view a pop-up window of the greeting on the inside. Shoppers can also edit the greeting that appears in the body of select cards using the "Say it Your Way" feature to create a personalized greeting. Customer reviews of the feature are available on the cards that can be edited.

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