“From the very beginning, our intention as founders was to use technology to deliver a better customer experience in flower gifting,” says Aron Gelbard, Bloom & Wild co-founder and CEO.
At the helm of the UK’s fastest growing online flower gifting service, Gelbard sees the business take off, from strength to strength, and attributes a lot of it to its technology first approach to reimagine how and why we gift flowers–a practice as old as time, and ripe for disruption.
“We have developed a tech-startup culture and have invested heavily in building out an in-house technology team that is responsible for our website, iPhone and Android apps, and our infrastructure,” he says. Outside the technology team, everyone else at Bloom & Wild is tech-savvy and works directly with the company’s software developers, says Gelbard, to learn from customers and rapidly improve user experience based on feedback and an analytics-based back-end.
Gelbard and co-founder Ben Stanway launched Bloom & Wild in 2013. Since then, the team has raised four rounds of funding, are backed by MMC Ventures and Burda Principle Investments, and has grown by 20 times in the last two years. Bloom & Wild now sends out thousands of bouquets each week. According to Gelbard, this is just the beginning.
The company’s key objective is to make sending fresh, design-led flowers as simple as sending a text message and receiving them as effortless as receiving a letter. For Gelbard, this means constantly developing and improving the technology behind the company’s website and mobile apps, as well as through efficient packaging, which manages to get a bouquet of fresh flowers through a standard UK letterbox.
“People’s most exciting moments come straight to their mobile via WhatsApp or other messaging services – we’re enabling them to order flowers and gifts from the palm of their hand with better product, designs and payments,” Gelbard explains.
Bloom & Wild is now focussing on streamlining the ordering process via mobile. “We experience emotional triggers on our phones all the time – birthday reminders, spotting a friend’s engagement on Instagram, getting a Whatsapp message, the list goes on! At Bloom & Wild, we think it should be a joy to act on those emotional triggers and send a flower gift,” says Gelbard. “As a result, we’ve taken out as many steps as possible from the flower ordering process, and use native mobile features like address books, birthday calendars and Apple Pay to make things even easier and quicker.”
Behind the scenes, Gelbard says the company uses technology in areas such as our forecasting which helps in delivering fresher and longer-lasting flowers while keeping waste, and therefore prices, low.
Last month, the company raised £3.75 million in a new round of funding, led by Burda and investors from MMC Ventures. Gelbard says this injection of capital will fuel a more aggressive customer-centric growth strategy.
“First and foremost, we will use the investment to further improve our customer experience, through investing in technology and in refining our bouquet and packaging designs to keep up with all the invaluable feedback we receive from our customers,” says Gelbard. “In addition, we will be using some of the funds to expand Bloom & Wild internationally, starting with France and Germany.”
Initial market research revealed that there’s a similar desire for a mobile-first flower and gifting service in France and Germany, as well as demand for corporate gifting. “We already have hundreds of corporate clients sending our flowers out to their customers to thank them for their loyalty or to apologise when things go wrong, and we’ll be working hard to make the customer experience as good for corporate customers as it is for our consumers.”
With 35 per cent growth month-on-month, Bloom & Wild’s business model is clearly working.
“Our mission is to make sending and receiving flowers a joy, using technology to turn emotions into an action in the simplest and most beautiful way possible,” according to Gelbard.
“This attention to detail sits as a core value to our ambition to be Europe’s most loved flower brand.”