1-800-Flowers Expects Mother’s Day Shopping To Be ‘On-The-Go’ This Year

"More than 50 percent of customers are expected to use our mobile website and apps to shop with us for Mother’s Day," says Tom Hartnett, President,

Even the most traditional holidays — like this coming Sunday’s Mother’s Day — is not immune to the changing shopping patterns associated with retail: particularly, the on-demand, on-the-go, mix of online and offline that consumers increasingly expect.

Over the past two years, Long Island, NY-based 1-800-Flowers, which operates 125 U.S. retail locations nationally, is continuing to work on staying ahead of those technology-driven dictates. As we noted during the chain’s successful Valentine’s Day effort, it’s consistently been expanding its use of Amazons’ Alexa, Google Assistant (“Okay Google”), and Facebook Messenger Chatbots to create “wow moments” for its customers.

Earlier this year, speaking at the NRF Big Show retail conference, Chris McCann, president and CEO of 1-800-Flowers, discussed the company’s use of voice-activation and AI as coming full circle for the 42-year-old company. After all, the brand’s identity is wrapped up in the use of technology and speaking.

“It all comes back to voice,” McCann said at the conference. “Our company a couple of years from now will look radically different than it does today, on how we interact and how we engage with our customers. We’re leveraging AI technologies to deliver more personalized customer experience.

“We’re continuing to move the needle forward there. Voice is the UI of the future… And with those technologies behind our marketing, we believe we’re in the midst of another transformation of our company.”

More recently, 1-800-Flowers was highlighted as one of the initial partners in Apple’s Business Chat feature, which lets iMessage users schedule appointments and make purchases directly using Apple Pay.

To get the brand’s Mother’s Day focus, we checked in with Tom Hartnett, president,, who noted that this year, it expects half of customers’ spending will come from mobile and related smart devices.

GeoMarketing: Is there any special campaign that 1-800-Flowers is doing for Mother’s Day? 

Tom Hartnett: Overall, our marketing efforts are focused on evoking the emotion of Mother’s Day, showcasing all moms do for us and our collective desire to not disappoint her on her special day. We’ve also introduced a #MomsWhoWOW campaign across all our brands, driven largely by social media, providing an opportunity to really engage and interact with our customers. Consumers are encouraged to nominate their mom, sharing a story on how they WOW – in 50 words or less – to be entered into our special Mother’s Day sweepstakes. The prize is an unforgettable trip to experience the Shades of Lavender in Provence France. To date, we have received more than 1,500 stories and customers can continue to share how their mom “wows” through Mother’s Day, May 13.

This year, we have a variety of unique gifts and floral arrangements at great values, all well positioned for a competitive marketplace. Our new Mother’s Day collection provides some really great exclusive offerings for customers leveraging key trends, including bright mixed bouquets, pink (the most popular color for Mother’s Day flower shoppers), tulips and growing popularity of succulents and plants. We are committed to helping our customers celebrate all the moms in their lives with truly original floral arrangements, as well as other gifts such as our new line of chocolate dipped strawberries, Berrylicious. We never lose sight that Mother’s Day is so important to our customers and we are proud that our customers trust us with their gift-giving needs on such a special occasion.

As a national brand, how does 1-800-Flowers balance a broader marketing program with hyperlocal focus for Mother’s Day? Is the marketing for the holiday likely to be concentrated in any particular set of regions or cities?

As Mother’s Day shoppers span all demographics and geographies, with gift-givers buying for all of the moms, grandmothers, moms-to-be and other mother figures in their lives,’s marketing efforts are focused on customers nationwide. That said, we are working with social influencers in key markets to help us amplify many of our exclusive product offerings by sharing them with their networks.

1-800-Flowers’ AI-powered concierge, as shown during the company’s NRF Big Show presentation in January 2018.

Has shopping around the Mother’s Day holiday changed in recent years?

Customers are increasingly using their mobile devices to shop with us. In fact, more than 50 percent of customers are expected to use our mobile website and apps to shop with us for Mother’s Day. That’s why we continue to introduce exciting new ways for on-the-go customers to shop with us whenever, wherever and however they choose, whether via Apple Business Chat, Samsung Chatbot, Google Rich Business Messaging (RBM), Google Assistant, Google Express, Amazon Alexa skill or Facebook Messenger.

1-800-Flowers has done so much pioneering work around the use of chatbots, Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Voice activation, and most recently, with Apple Business Chat. What is 1-800-Flowers’ philosophy around the use of technology to bridge online and offline marketing? And how important are these tools I’ve mentioned going to be this holiday?

As a company, we are deeply focused on the customer experience, which includes constantly pushing the envelope with new technologies that makes shopping with us easy and convenient. Our philosophy of innovating our business is to engage early, learn (typically right along with the consumer), adapt the technology and ultimately commercialize. Holidays, such as Mother’s Day, provides us with a great opportunity to learn and continue to iterate and evolve quickly.

Any similar plans in the works for Father’s Day?

Mother’s Day is the number one floral holiday for the brand. We love dads, and Father’s Day is a great opportunity to gift gourmet food and treats from our family of brands, which includes Harry & David, Cheryl’s Cookies, Personalization Universe, and The Popcorn Factory.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.