Sharon Kean – Apps & Flat Packs
Summary: If you want to change legacy systems or industries, focus on bringing people with you. This helps you find solutions which genuinely solve problems rather than imposing your perspective on others.
Bloom & Wild are trying to make flower delivery easy and fun – No longer do you need to worry about whether someone is in, if they’re at their desk or even what a nice bouquet looks like. They are taking all the hassle away from that process by focusing on their customers’ real needs and innovating at every stage of the product.
With an in-house team responsible for technology development and product design, Sharon Kean (Product Director at Bloom & Wild) explains how B&W are building a core capability that is aiming to lead the market through customer satisfaction. They don’t buy in any of these tools or services, so they are able to have complete control over all aspects of them.
Even After 4 Years, you Will Have Legacy Systems
No matter how young your organisation or start-up, you will have people, processes and tools that do not line up perfectly with where you want to go. Bloom & Wild chose some of these when starting out and others have evolved over time.
Here are their top 4 and how they are handling them:
1. The Floristry Industry
B&W’s supply chain starts with flowers being grown all over the world. They are then bought and sold on the floristry equivalent of a stock exchange and normally delivered to small, independent florists across the country. Working with this supply chain is their biggest legacy system.
These florists see themselves as much as artists as a business and are hugely talented in sourcing and arranging different bouquets and products. Bloom & Wild are looking to fulfill that same desire to provide a quality, artisan product but without having to go to a physical location for it.
Fewer Steps are Always Better
Central to B&W’s success is the ability to fulfill a high quality, perishable product to an exacting standard, efficiently. This is all based around the logistics operation at their warehouse.
To make this process work they have designed a system where their packers just have to ‘press the button’. After they do this they see which flowers they need to add to the boxes, what labels they need to include and where the package is going to go. For an operation which has never had technology included as part of it, this is a huge step forward and something that B&W have invested heavily in to get right.
You Have to put Time Aside for Maintenance
When their packers are ‘pressing the button’ – if it doesn’t function exactly how they expect, then that can cause big drops in efficiency. Hence, the team respond to & reassure the users, and fix any issues as soon as they arise.
Test, Learn and Refine all the Things!
Even in the most traditional of processes – flower packing with humans – B&W have applied a classic digital product process to improve their outputs. By getting under the skin of the problems that their users were facing, they have been able to come up with solutions, test whether they work and then continually improve their product.
How you can be Agile With Flower Design
Floristry is a creative skill. Those who practice it consider the process design rather than fulfillment. As such, space needs to be made to allow this to happen – it’s not just ‘get flowers, put in vase’.
B&W’s design team respond to trends, puts bouquet designs together whilst considering the cost and all kinds of other practicalities. Once they’ve done this they then need to source the flowers, get the product built, photographed and delivered.
All of this is done with an agile, iterative mindset. The team is constantly looking to learn, from which bouquets are most desired by their audiences, to how the practicalities of sending certain flowers in the post perform.
By having this entire process within their supply chain and control, Bloom & Wild are able to take a bouquet from an idea to being on their website in about 24 hours. It takes many of their competitors about 6 months. Through the disruption of this legacy process, it has given them a huge competitive advantage.
B&W see themselves as trying to evolve what it means to be an online shop. Rather than cataloguing hundreds and hundreds of products, they are trying to curate a smaller selection that their audiences really want.
Across their apps and websites, B&W only show about 7–9 products at any one time – letting you swipe through and consider each one before you purchase. At checkout there is an absolute minimum number of clicks. None of these are groundbreaking approaches, but by putting a focus on them in the design and build process, B&W have been able to make marginal gains in numerous areas and ‘just make it work’.
3. The Final Mile Delivery
As with most online retailers, B&W rely on the Royal Mail and a small number of other delivery companies to get their product in the hands of their customers. These relationships come with various challenges, but optimising them is essential to ensure an excellent customer experience.
Royal Mail are incredibly good at what they do – delivering enormous amounts of packages to a huge geographic area, with an incredibly high accuracy. As such, it is down to B&W to integrate with them from not just a technical perspective, but also with their processes. If you can’t make it work with them, you won’t have a viable business.
That being said, in addition to Royal Mail, B&W have also been using Shutl to fulfil a 2 hour delivery service in London – for when you’ve really left it too late!
4. Microsoft Excel
More often than not, Individuals + Excel + Email = a startup. As you scale up, this set of tools start to break down though. B&W are on an ongoing journey to try and detach people from their csv download buttons and spreadsheets as they believe there are better ways to give people the information they need to do their jobs.
As with all of these changes, the team have found most success when they’ve invested in bringing people with them, rather than imposing technical solutions. Their aim has always been to try and enable others’ work, rather than design solutions which they think are better but don’t help in the real world.