AUSTIN, TX: 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, the florist and gifting service, believes artificial intelligence (AI) will become a vital brand-building tool for reaching consumers across various platforms.

Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, discussed this subject at MediaPost's OMMA@SXSW gathering at the 2017 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference.

And he referenced its AI-driven gift concierge known as GWYN – short for "Gifts When You Need It" – as evidencing how artificial intelligence can help consumers identify just the right flowers, chocolates, wine, baked goods, and so on.

"We expect GWYN, and the persona that we develop for GWYN, to actually be our brand in many different platforms in the future," McCann said. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: 1-800-FLOWERS.COM explores conversational commerce.)

This service is powered by IBM's Watson cognitive computing tool, and lets 1-800-FLOWERS.COM engage in increasingly personalized, one-to-one digital interactions with consumers, as well as learning over time.

A user can begin with simple statements like "I'm looking for a gift for my mother" or "I want to send a thank you gift". By answering some follow-up queries – say, about the occasion, sentiment and recipient – it then delivers tailored suggestions.

"We're on a third iteration of GWYN right now, getting great learnings – learning that the consumer is comfortable spending more time than we expected interacting with GWYN in helping to find the right product, but, again in a very conversational manner," McCann said.

"But then, once they're ready for checkout, let's get them through the checkout funnel as fast as we can."

In fact, the valuable insights delivered by GWYN – which launched in May 2016 – range from dwell time (topping two minutes, on average) to customer satisfaction (roughly 80% of users would utilize the platform again).

"We've got enough learning now … where we started to make some different changes to the interface of GWYN," McCann said.

Data sourced from WARC