CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
The e-retailer predicts 50% of consumer sales will come through mobile in 2014.
H.Bloom Inc., which operates an online flower subscription service that lets businesses and individuals order regular deliveries of fresh flowers, today has launched an iPhone app, where it will also sell gifts. Gifts including chocolates, cupcakes, candles and macaroons will be sold exclusively through the mobile channel, which soon will also include an Android app and a mobile commerce web site.
18% of H.Bloom’s total web traffic comes from mobile devices. The e-retailer predicts 50% of its consumer sales will come through the mobile channel by 2014. The merchant also has corporate sales, conducted by businesses offline through H.Bloom account representatives. B2B corporate sales account for 85% of H.Bloom’s business while consumer sales via the web account for 15%.
“Consumers increasingly are using their mobile devices for everything, from all their communications to purchasing products and more,” says Emily Dubner, director of consumer at H.Bloom. “More people expect to be able to do everything on the go. That’s true for our customers and we want to make that true for our offering.”
H.Bloom started in mobile commerce with an iPhone app because it says 92% of its mobile traffic stems from an Apple Inc. iOS device, roughly split between the iPhone and the iPad.
“Most of our employees and customers are iPhone users, and iPhone traffic is heavy in the cities where we do business,” Dubner says.
H.Bloom is offering the subscription service in five cities—New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C. The retailer plans to extend the service within five years to some 25 cities in the United States and Canada.
To order a gift, a consumer opens the app and selects the city and date of delivery. The app then displays product categories, which contain only three to five products apiece. Dubner says the company did not want to overwhelm mobile shoppers and instead chose to present a handful of popular gift selections. Once a consumer selects a product, she proceeds to checkout. She can log in to her H.Bloom e-commerce site account, where billing and payment information are stored. And she can select a recipient’s address from her iPhone’s address book or manually enter it.
H.Bloom hired iPhone and Android app developer Two Toasters to help design and build the app.
“Two Toasters really got the concept and brand from the beginning,” Dubner says. “We brought them on just past the ideation stage and they helped strategize. They brought the iOS experience. We have an amazing tech team in-house, but they don’t have iOS experience. Two Toasters brought that knowledge and worked very closely with our tech team and led the way for us. From a development standpoint Two Toasters was super helpful, and very good at design.”
H.Bloom declines to reveal the cost of building the app. Two Toasters says retail smartphone apps run between $80,000 and $150,000.
H.Bloom says mobile commerce is a great fit with gifting.
“Part of it is just the common experience where you realize at the last minute you’ve forgotten a birthday and need to send a gift and you’re not in a place where you can scour the Internet,” Dubner says. “We wanted to create a curated experience that was available on mobile. If you are in a cab when you remember the need for a gift, you can buy one with ease from your iPhone. And once you place one order your information is stored so next time you can make a purchase in just a few clicks.”