1-800-Flowers.com Taps IBM’s Cloud To Unite Entire Supply Chain

IBM-1800Flowers1-800-Flowers.com announced on Friday that it will deploy IBM Commerce on Cloud to begin integrating its supply chain from inventory to fulfillment and delivery.

“The IBM Cloud will reduce complexity, provide the proper focus and enhance the ability to provide wonderful services to the customer,” said the CIO of 1-800-Flowers, Arnie Leap.

The tech-savvy retailer has been a customer of IBM’s for over seven years and was an early adopter of its WebSphere ecommerce platform as well as on-premise cloud. But as 1-800-Flowers grew beyond its namesake with acquisitions of gift companies Harry & David, Fannie May (not related to Fannie Mae of financial services fame) and Wolferman, it needed an omnichannel solution to coordinate the different brands, fulfillment processes, data and applications that span its network.

For instance, 1-800-Flowers will now understand things like which flowers sell best when it’s warm or cold outside. It can then use a logged-in shopper’s location data to make relevant suggestions across its brand websites, i.e., promoting hot chocolate on Harry & David for a customer who purchases wintry flowers.

The integration of IBM’s artificial intelligence engine Watson with data from The Weather Channel will help 1-800-Flowers account for these major weather trends, allowing the retailer to curate personalized product suggestions based on order histories across brands.

“Picture there’s a severe snowstorm affecting the eastern third of the US three days before Valentine’s Day,” said IBM director of commerce Adam Orentlicher. “[Watson will help determine] what orders need to have pre- and overnight shipping accelerated, so we don’t miss the delivery when the snowstorm hits.”

IBM Cloud will also use data from 1-800-Flowers’ Fresh Rewards loyalty program to remind customers of upcoming events (like birthdays) or to cross-sell products from its sister companies.

IBM will manage its deployment with 1-800-Flowers, as its breadth and complexity around managing workloads and adopting with peak seasons is unprecedented, according to Orentlicher.

“They have a much broader initiative around what I would call scalable innovation,” he said.“They are going to use the IBM Cloud more broadly for applications across their entire supply chain.”

The deployment process was extremely quick because of the historical relationship between the two companies. “We’ll plug [IBM Cloud] into our infrastructure in such a way that it’s as simple as putting a plug in an electrical outlet,” Leap said.

Paperwork was signed in January, and the first order is set to be captured through IBM cloud by mid-July. But transferring workflow fully to the cloud will take more time.

“You can adopt cloud services overnight, but the transition of operations and so forth takes a lot longer to do,” Leap said.

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