Customer Equity Accelerator Podcast

Ep. 97 | 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. 25 years of Digital Leadership

 

"We are not overly attached to any one idea or product. We continuously solve for the customer need, while remaining platform and technology agnostic." - Sumantro 'Sumo' Das

 

This week Sumantro ‘Sumo’ Das, senior director, product and growth brands at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. joins Allison Hartsoe in the Accelerator. This unique brand has remained on the cutting edge for 25 years. How do they do it? Sumo explains the innovation mindset that permeates the company and its multiple brands.

Please help us spread the word about building your business’ customer equity through effective customer analytics. Rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Google Play, Alexa’s TuneIn, iHeartRadio or Spotify. And do tell us what you think by writing Allison at info@ambitiondata.com or ambitiondata.com. Thanks for listening! Tell a friend! See the full transcriptView all episodes.

 

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Ep. 98 | Operationalizing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) Ep. 96 | Designing Data for Business Decisions Part 2

Show Transcript

Allison Hartsoe: 00:01 This is the Customer Equity Accelerator. If you are a marketing executive who wants to deliver bottom-line impact by identifying and connecting with revenue-generating customers, then this is the show for you. I'm your host, Allison Hartsoe, CEO of Ambition Data. Each week I bring you the leaders behind the customer-centric revolution who share their expert advice. Are you ready to accelerate? Then let's go.

Allison Hartsoe: 00:33 Welcome everyone. Today's show is about how a heritage brand became and maintained a 25-year leadership position, and to help me discuss this topic as Sumatra Das. Sumo is the senior director of product and growth brands as well as general manager at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. He's also the chair of the mobile round table product consortium. Sumo, welcome to the show.

Sumo Das: 00:56 Thank you for having me today. Allison,

Allison Hartsoe: 00:58 can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you ended up at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc?

Sumo Das: 01:04 Sure. I have a background in digital products. I've been in, at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. for seven years. I started originally in mobile product, and that evolved into growing the mobile customer experience, deepening it over a period of time, and eventually, I led to me getting additional responsibilities, including running brand as an incubated startups within 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.

Allison Hartsoe: 01:22 I love what you said about running brands as incubated startups. I don't think businesses commonly think about brands that way. Is that an area that is kind of unique to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. in your experience?

Sumo Das: 01:34 It's the conducive evolving landscape within 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. I'll, we're looking to provide solves for consumer needs and not necessarily push brands in order to provide solves for the gifting requirements and needs.

Allison Hartsoe: 01:44 Oh, fantastic. I love to hear that. We're not there to push product. We're there to really think about the customer's needs. So now I have to ask you, being a 25-year digital leader is almost an oxymoron in our space. Most of the brands that I remember starting within my career, my space, and even Yahoo, which is such an icon, have really turned over. But 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. is not in that category. So outside of Amazon and Walmart, very few heritage brands have been able to move really aggressively into the digital space and then really stay there. So my first question really has to be what makes 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., not just a survivor, but a digital leader in this space?

Sumo Das: 02:28 I think the way we think about providing the consumer experience and being a customer-centric first is a driving element that permeates throughout the entire organization starts at innovation and not being overly attached to anyone's idea of product or concept, but having the drive to be customer-oriented. In our case, providing solve for a customer gifting use case and really maintaining that across the multitude of media, whether it's initially telephonic, whether desktop, whether it was mobile, and now moving into other platforms. Just conversational, and we don't know what's next. So understanding how we're continuously solving for the consumer needs and being platform and technology agnostic has driven that outcome for us.

Allison Hartsoe: 03:06 You mentioned at the beginning of the show that you were part of the mobile consortium. Am I right in saying that in thinking that when Mary Meeker was rolling out the state of the internet and we were all starting to see that everybody was coming in on their mobile devices more than desktop? The whole paradigm changed, was that where you started to get some early wins for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.?

Sumo Das: 03:28 We believe in making multiple bets and seeing well what where the prevailing winds take us. It just so happens that we are first in mobile. One of the early folks on mobile. We have had a number of iterations of mobile experience. It's an investment we took very seriously, going back over ten years. So really the lead-up time between investment and reaping the benefits of it. There's not just one or two years more likely close to a decade and seen that evolve over the landscape and environmental changes, whether it's with the Googles and the Bings of the world that are enforcing strict standards on what qualifies as a quality mobile experience. That has played into an advantage of the early movers who have had lessons over the years, and we're fortunate that we've been able to garner those lessons and maintain continuity while providing a shopping experience we're very pleased with it,

Allison Hartsoe: 04:10 so I think it's very interesting what you said about having the investment take a lot of time to reap the benefit. I don't think a lot of companies think that way and think long term. It almost sounds like there's maybe, like a framework or something that you're working through when you go to make a bet on technology or make a bet on a particular strategy. Am I right to assume that there's something in there?

Sumo Das: 04:33 Yeah, it really takes an eye to understand what the potential of the technology is. Say, for example, augmented reality, it's not very clear to many folks where augmented reality was headed until someone opened up, for instance, the Wayfair app one day and then saw that they could see what a piece of furniture such as a mirror would look like in the living room. And all of a sudden, once someone starts their use case, then the product workshop over at Wayfair and then shipped that product out. By then, it had gone through so much rigor in QA and planning that when by them, a customer placed that on the living room wall in the app and then made a purchase. It just became so obvious. So the conception and the inception of such concepts are not so straightforward in the beginning. Still, cutting through the noise and finding the signal and identifying what the use cases are, it takes a lot of refinement, takes the high velocity of cycles, and they will inevitably be some shortcomings, which is part of the game. And accepting those shortcomings is part of making multiple bets. And ultimately, when there are wins, they tend to prevail, they tend to get more attention, but they should, they don't. And they should not mask that number of cycles and the the quote, unquote hard lessons that everybody had to undertake.

Allison Hartsoe: 05:41 So that's a really good point about the, and it almost sounds like agile in a way that you're going through a number of cycles. So you have a sample technology, and so this is kind of the, let's call it the innovative thinking that is residual in perhaps the DNA of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. where you've got this sense of there's an opportunity in a particular area with a new technology, let's say augmented reality and the process of finding what the use case is, is not just starting with one answer and then throwing it away, but watching how that answer evolves over time. So I would imagine that there's probably a certain investment that gets earmarked for any win that you want to go after. And once that investment starts to reach a certain threshold, do you have a point where you decide either we're going to double down on this, or we're going to can it because it's hitting some threshold, it's hitting a certain use case? Well, or it's not.

Sumo Das: 06:38 Yeah and I can't speak for other folks across the industry, but any dollar driven organization is always looking at performance and the take rate, the engagement rate and ultimately what drives every organization which is revenue and if there are signals that point to incremental adoption across such KPIs, then it is incumbent upon the product manager, product director, head of product, whoever is running the show to double down on the trends and say, you know, we've seen incremental engagement over a set period of time, quarter over quarter, year on year, whatever the time period it is and upon that becomes imperative to take action. The agile, the product manager, and an urgency product manager. It's level agnostic. You can be head of product, you can be an entry-level product, handle this, but the agile product manager is going to need to be what the opportunities are. And marry them with the businesses, internal environments. It requires going down from the customer, going down to each organization on technological nuances, and ultimately using that to propel an outcome that is market-ready, outcome ready, and results-oriented.

Allison Hartsoe: 07:36 It reminds me a bit of a startup process in that if you time it too early you might be holding on for a while to get to that incremental engagement that you mentioned or reach the certain KPIs like how do you control how early, how late, how do you decide, especially in maintaining digital leadership. Like you said, you make all these bets. Some of them are going to bear fruits, some of them aren't.

Sumo Das: 07:59 Yeah. The way I sort of look at it and tell my boss, there's what I call the four pillars of eCommerce. It's a discover-ability, engagement, lead to an outcome or in the case be commerce be to transaction and then the relationship that a brand bill with the user, the ones that use them then becomes the customer. Those four pillars drive in my eyes, the growth over it over our business, and that's evolved as I've transitioned from being more product-oriented to being more of a general manager with BNL responsibilities.

Allison Hartsoe: 08:24 So would you say that you're using those pillars to align the company and get everybody kind of rowing in the same direction now that you have the GM perspective?

Sumo Das: 08:33 I'd say those pillars were already in motion. This is just my own synthesis of what I wanted was already happening, so blesses, embodied my own back in the zone in my own way of getting things done. What I thought worked well was just understanding how I can compartmentalize what was already going on and then contribute towards KPIs in each metric or in each endeavor, which is going to propel further each step within the consumer shopping journey.

Allison Hartsoe: 08:55 Do you think about the KPIs within each pillar, or is it any particular use case has its own KPI.

Sumo Das: 09:00 They have their own KPIs for discoverability, or you'd always want to have new users coming onto your experience or engagement. Do you want to make sure that the shopper is, is browsing through a site that has minimal drop-off and there's high pass rate at each step of the shopping experience - checkout, funnel, lead to outcome, whether it's a cost, whether it's a lead or whether it is an order or a conversion that speaks for itself and then what is the lifetime value of that user. Once you acquire them as a brand and they and all them, the metrics for each of these steps will differ by brand, no doubt, but understanding what the baseline is and then growing that is one important part. But then the other part of it is where the partners internally and externally we're going to enable you to drive those outcomes.

Allison Hartsoe: 09:38 I love what you're saying here obviously about customer lifetime value cause I always feel like that's the tip of the spear, but I also like how you're bringing in the element of fresh blood. Are new users coming in? When new users come in, are you kind of looking at these four pillars in a different light where discovery, engagement, speed to the outcome, and their customer lifetime value might be separated from people who are existing users coming through and buying something else?

Sumo Das: 10:08 Sure, and that is where it begins to bifurcate. That is more of an of an acquisition strategy or a retention strategy. One might want to focus more on re-engagement and what are the times that are appropriate to be engaging with your customers and how to make them an interactive part of your brand. It doesn't really make sense, and I like to transpose the best of brick and mortar experiences onto digital. If I walk them to us walk into a high-end boutique store, I am less likely to respond to an associate on the floor who just keeps asking me, welcome back, and would you like to buy a watch which is on sale and I just bought a watch. I don't want to buy another watch. I'm not really avid like it. Then that same join of an email five times, that's just asking your user to unsubscribe, and that's this microelement of just walking into the store, and it'd be mindful of those sorts of interactions and how they can have profound psychological impact in the relationship between a customer, and a brand is paramount across all industries

Allison Hartsoe: 11:00 [inaudible], and that's where that contextual knowledge becomes so important. I always feel like in the digital space, we're so boneheaded oftentimes would buy, buy, buy like I don't know how many times I've bought something, and then I get remarketed to like breezy, and I'm just like stop. Even brands that I expected would have it dialed in, and just specifically, I bought a Peloton recently after much discussion and much analysis, finally pulled the trigger, buy this expensive bike, and they keep sending me emails and ads. I'm like, Oh, stop; I've already bought, leave me alone. It's not a great post user experience, but it's hard to see that in the digital space. Perhaps we're less forgiving in the digital space than we are. If you were to walk into a physical store, what do you think?

Sumo Das: 11:48 I think we'd be getting us those if we didn't say or admit that'd be all had that experience. It's something which honestly speaks more about the evolution of digital marketing. We wouldn't talk to a human being like a broken record, but why should we accept that digitally just because we are not seeing that customer face to face. So it's again, encumbered upon every brand, every much end to be communicating, engaging meaningfully at each touchpoint are just looking at users as an audience. They're looking at users as a single individual and recognizing that an individual has a propensity to engage in a certain way and providing a curated experience for that specific individual. The more one is able to learn about them and uh, learn about what the user wants and then provide a meaningful shopping experience, not one which is not going to be well received, not one which is erosive and certainly not one which is annoying for the user because at that point a customer's just gonna turn away and go somewhere.

Allison Hartsoe: 12:38 And there's challenges with that because the more you understand about people, the narrower sometimes the choices get. And we've all had that experience on our news feeds where you start to feel like you're in a damn bubble and then I don't know about you, but I actually purposely subscribe to things that are outside my normal point of view just to get more diversity in there. So as we try to understand our audience and as we change the language to talk about them more as individuals, are we nudging them too far? How do you manage that? I want to give them something of value, but I don't want to go too far.

Sumo Das: 13:10 It's a conundrum which every retailer facing and when is that line clear between not going too far and being within a respectable bond. I continue to hear product managers in the industry across the board, round the table say that they see in the retargeting ad about a topic that they've never searched on. It never ended word. So how else? How could that have happened? And then, various theories get spewed, and none are confirmed. So we are as human beings beginning to engage in digital mediums. We are just a reflection of where we've come from. We are we our behaviors are a function of our existing environment. It is a function of a behavior. There's a formula which I learned from George lab of at the as a function, the individual environment individual is one that you cannot change for the environment, that the mind is continuously evolving.

Sumo Das: 13:51 As their environment continues to evolve. As technologies become more normalized, then the behavior will gradually be reflective of that shift environment. Then the individual between the constant will be more likely to engage in more personalized shopping experiences online times as just as the means of recourse. We like to go to a boutique experience will be like to go to a mom and pop shop. You like to go to a local store where the cashier does know our name. Where the shop associate knows what we have as taste preferences during Christmas, Christmas shopping, or if you go to a deli, the person behind the counter knows what our tastes are. Those are experiences that we need to be understanding a bit better and how to reproduce them in a way which the shopper wants that experience. Not pushing that onto the customer as they walk into the door. That's the exact opposite of what the customer wants, but that is what appears to be more of what most online retailers brands are doing

Allison Hartsoe: 14:40 and, and you know, you've hit on so many rich concepts there. I picked up three that are just core to the idea. One is that customer-centricity is really about taking that kind of personal 1950s. I'm walking into my local store, and everybody knows my name and operating it at scale. And then two is the language that you're using, or you're talking about them. I don't know if you remember this, but in the early days of the internet, we talked about people as eyeballs and wanting to get more eyeballs on your site. And then we started talking about traffic and then we started talking about visitors. Now we're using the language of customers a lot more an audience and making it more humanizing even down to the individual level. I have to ask, how do you refer to people inside 1-800-FLOWERS,

Sumo Das: 15:23 Everyone is a customer in America. And we pride ourselves in being customer-oriented.

Allison Hartsoe: 15:26 Yeah, perfect. So everybody is, and so the third part of what I was picking up on what you were saying is that behavior is a function of the individual environment. And that reminds me of a lot of cultural change in the like photography and everything that we saw when cameras first came out, and people were like, oh, I don't take my picture. It's very much that way. Now we're not sure what that means for us. And as our lives become a little bit more enabled or things become a little smoother, or we might relax a little bit on the fact that we're being re-targeted and ad right now we're being re-targeted things we didn't ask for, we don't care about. But if we're being re-targeted on something that actually is valuable, then you know, maybe it's a little more accepting, or it's okay. But along those lines, so we're talking about how digital leadership was maintained at 1-800-FLOWERS. And so much of that gets into the four pillars of e-commerce that you hit on the KPIs behind that, the way that drives the organization, not just by product but by a customer-centric point of view. And thinking about the gifting experience, can you give us some examples of how that gifting experience has kind of taken root and ways that you use those pillars or ways that you thought about things differently?

Sumo Das: 16:36 Yeah. One example was when we'd wanted to shift with a new mobile paradigm. One of the questions you asked us, how do we provide uh, shoppers within this experience, and one that is delightful to engage with. In around four years ago, there was a; there's really sort of Apple of a product which became widely popular and effectively ubiquitous for payments today Apple pay. And one of the initiatives we had was to build that, incorporate that whole experience. We were launch partners with them and was experienced, which led to a positive-sum game for all players involved. Whether it was certainly Apple was pushing their own product, our consumers for having an experience which was delectable.

Allison Hartsoe: 17:12 What a great word

Sumo Das: 17:13 and right and us as a merchant, we're providing means for a more seamless transaction experience. There are a lot of nuances and why's in the background which had to be connected where it gives an experience to a white transaction, but every has the own nuances, and it's up to the product manager. At that time, I was a product manager on the release, and being how that experience was conceived and then put into market time for a launch campaign helped us understand that. Then when you do see an opportunity, that's going to make a difference, and we need to test it out. Initially, it was just, it was a test and gaging, and now everyone in the market has that way and have everyone do it to the extent that you now have Apple pay approval on payment processors which provided supported and provided by competing payment methods which have their own payment gateway. So Apple has maintained its authority on as a leading procurement provider on iOS through effectively not just being first in market but really providing been use experience which is safe, secure, and provides comfort for us upwards users.

Allison Hartsoe: 18:09 It is a good system, but what I'm also hearing underneath here is when you talk about lots of wires to connect, this is where most organizations fall apart. There's this, what would you call it, almost like a wall between the technical IT group and the group that's more product, customer, marketing facing, let's call it. How did you get the two pieces to work in such a way that you were able to connect all those wires and put it together and get everybody moving in the same direction so that you could be innovative?

Sumo Das: 18:41 Yeah. I think no one is born as a product manager, but we all have shipping and foundational experiences which make us problem solvers across various walks of life and translating that into an outcome-oriented initiative within one's organization, irrespective of what industry where you can, one can be aeronautical engineering, one can be in a restaurant services manager, and one could be in online retail and eCommerce. Every environment has constraints. Every organization has goals, and aligning the two is the first step understanding what moves the needle between moving supply and matching that to demand. That is, that's key. Once those high-level KPIs are understood, and the cadence of which they shift is understood, then there's an opportunity and understanding better the levers to pull. Now we start again to the system that is powering various KPIs, and some of them are legacies in most organizations, which is whole and learn.

Sumo Das: 19:31 The lack of knowledge about the systems can be devastating. It can be the difference between having an awesome lead with an at an innovative partner and not being able to integrate them into a system. And that is the step which folks tend to grapple the most with. As a solution, providers and partners become more experienced in working through apps, providing a much more widespread opportunity to onboard other retailers and other merchants or have you, and through sheer experience, they are able to bought themselves as a better solve for a broader use case. But in order to be first to the game, in order to be innovative, when has to build that muscle memory early on and maintain that as an active muscle. It's not something we should ever go dormant as long as we are continuing to build up cells into a way that we are ready to onboard and evangelize and internalize new products, concepts and new ways of doing business that is going to lead to continuously evolving landscape intimately and that ultimately leads to a business which is continuously moving and shifting and evolving.

Allison Hartsoe: 20:33 Does that mean Sumo that if an organization has poorly formed goals or goals that don't lead to very clear KPIs that a person who's trying to solve those problems and create something new within the organization might have a lot of difficulty?

Sumo Das: 20:52 Yeah. One can't improve what one can measure though the instrumentation is key, and confidence in that instrumentation is key as well. Notice this option then improve and further that baseline,

Allison Hartsoe: 21:02 so the KPI's key, we get that baked in, but then there's the softer skill aspect that you talked about as translating into other walks of life. How have you been able to kind of reach to other parts of the organization and solve problems? Are there specific techniques that you use to get everybody on board as you're in the product manager role, as you're trying to get something new stood up.

Sumo Das: 21:26 everybody needs to be involved. People want to be involved in something which is cool, which is novel, which sounds like a different way of getting this done. Who wouldn't want to be involved in moving the organization forward as the organization evolves, we all want to be a part of that mission and make the first step in getting partners and getting folks on board and make them feel that they're really part of that mission. Make it very clear what the objective is and explain to them this is the specialty that's required to deliver against that, and that clearly defined someone's role. Just personally, in my experience, I find it to be very helpful because then they tend to share the vision. They tend to share, and it doesn't have to be your vision, but if it is one's own vision, it's best to always speak in the collective we because we are all in one as one team.

Sumo Das: 22:02 I guess this can also sort of tie into leadership and suppose leading by example and not by direction is one which can be an infectious MO, and that can be two folks wanting to willfully being part of the endeavor. Whereas the product release, whether it is a new onboarding new partner and then there's technological integration acquired whatever it is and making people, people want to feel part of that mission and then once they're part that mission, they know what their role is, they will see to it that they are able to deliver, and it always helps to have the top onboard from the senior leadership team and your organization. What was well as benefit from that, but if that is promulgated to the leadership and what the benefits are, then that adds more momentum to the cause.

Allison Hartsoe: 22:40 Does the size of the team matter?

Sumo Das: 22:42 It's a, it's size agnostic. I find that any movement on any project requires collaboration, and it sounds obvious, but when teams sort of get larger than the matrix environment, it tends to not be as conducive, and there's less inertia for whatever reason because the vision doesn't permeate through and through. Once a vision permeates through and through, then that becomes almost infectious

Allison Hartsoe: 23:01 and do you need to allow maybe a certain amount of time that's not necessarily built into like let's say that you want to get a new system stood up or a new functionality running, and you want to hit a certain date, but do you have to back in a certain amount of time for people to understand and make the vision theirs?

Sumo Das: 23:21 Yeah, and you've actually touched more on key points here. Everybody has their own responsibilities, and timelines and deadlines had to be mindful of that is key. That can be depending on what function one has; then, it can be weeks. It's usually an important technology. It's month, three to six months and some organizations over a year depending on the maturity of the and the richness of their product roadmap and how the prioritization takes place, so being mindful of those needs and those requirements for other teams that are on board, those folks are going to be less willing to collaborate.

Allison Hartsoe: 23:47 Well, that sounds like a little area of tension, like you need to get them on board, but at the same time, you need to get your results out. This sounds like an opportunity to bring in a box of donuts or something and make friends so that you can get your timelines as Saint and get people excited. Maybe it's that excitement that becomes the grease in the wheels.

Sumo Das: 24:04 Everybody wants a box of donuts. I would always be happy whenever someone brought that in. But yeah, it goes down to building sound deep relations with not just your own team but across departments and an organization, whether it's five people big or it's 500 or 5,000 or more. Knowing who the key stakeholders are and building those relationships is going to be the vehicles for driving success

Allison Hartsoe: 24:25 and you know it's interesting too, there is when you're going across departments, the key stakeholder is not always the boss. I think sometimes it's the influencer that's on the team that when you get them on board, everything else starts to kind of move a little bit more easily. Would you agree?

Sumo Das: 24:39 Absolutely, and it's a team effort. Going through bosses is an approach. It works for some people, it doesn't work for others, but knowing who is going to help you get there and making that individual, that team be a part of the endeavor. Again, that's key because people want to be a part of mission and vision if you are being that this is going to be changed for the better for your organization.

Allison Hartsoe: 24:57 Yeah, you just can't underestimate that human element. I heard once it was 5% of any company or the people who are like the deep influencers, the movers and shakers of the company, and when you get that group on board. You get them bought into your vision, it's like the Gates open, and everything else becomes so much easier, but they're not easy to identify. They're kind of like this. If you were to map a social network inside an organization, they would be the hubs.

Sumo Das: 25:23 That's funny because that comes with the function of spending time within an organization. But that goes counter to folks today who tend to have multiple careers, multiple jobs within a career. This is a bit of a catch 22 folks want to be movers and shakers, but on the other hand, people are getting jobs based on putting everything and keeping everything presently at shorter bursts. So yes, you're right, but it does take time to garner those relationships.

Allison Hartsoe: 25:44 Yes. That itself is an interesting challenge. Can you talk a little bit about new and emerging products, things that you guys are leaning into to help keep that leadership advantage?

Sumo Das: 25:54 Sure. So a few years ago, we came across this product concept called the progressive web app. You worked intimately with progressive app team for Google and uh, in that, in a sense it's a way of providing a web browser, the ability to have an app like experience, which we delivered after multiple cycles, a lot of QA, a lot of planning, a lot of design work. We basically redid the way we want our mobile experience, and ultimately, it was an experience which was delightful to browse on. It was quick, mega-projects got on a number of steps, and it's now become as contributed towards the standard of what a progressive about that. And they'll see a lot of retailers and a lot of web experiences, lash from providers talking about progress, web apps outside out of the box. And we're pleased, and we're humbled to see that that's where the market is growing because we put a lot of effort into that endeavor. It was a bet that we took early again, and there was one that that paid off then, but a feature Google IO last year.

Allison Hartsoe: 26:47 Nice. That's great. And I also sense that as you're making these decisions about where to put your bets, that it's not just, Oh, this is a cool technology. Would I be right in thinking that there's some customer-centric or maybe some customer lifetime value analysis happening underneath where you're saying not only would it help everyone to improve the speed and the experience, but we really want to give our good customers great service? We want them to come back and enjoy coming back. Is that also factored in?

Sumo Das: 27:19 Yeah, it is factored. Yeah, and I think every retailer factors that in. They want to have an experience which is not erosive; they want to have an experience which is pleasant, which is aesthetically pleasing to land on, to browse, to swipe images, to select sizes. So all of these attributes are part of deepening shopping experience that all readers find to find ways that are keeping customers meaningfully engaged on the experience.

Allison Hartsoe: 27:41 But also retailers are limited in budget. So how do you decide which to do first, second, third?

Sumo Das: 27:48 It depends on where one feels. The biggest opportunity is there's always the proverbial low hanging fruit, but even low hanging fruit has to be plucked, right? So if you're gonna go out and go to the effort of plucking, one has to know which you know, what's the, it's not just, and it's not just a low hanging fruit. It's taking that metaphor a step further. You know what rich food is most delicious, and maybe the low, the seemingly lowest hanging fruit may not be the most delicious, may not be the one that wants to go after. But going back to what you were saying, it really comes down to understanding what the real opportunities are for your organization, for your team or your product, whether it's a web experience, app experience, desktop, mobile, and telephonic. It doesn't really matter. Where's the opportunity? Is it to improve the pass-through rate to improve checkout? Is it to improve both the discoverability and get more people to understand what your brand does, who you are, what does identity and what are you solving for that they can come to you as a destination. Those are questions that each brand will have to answer on their own, but those are questions which help to answer. Okay,

Allison Hartsoe: 28:42 and it sounds like, and just hearing the KPIs you're coming back to, it sounds like every time you decide to pluck that low hanging fruit, you're always tracing it back to how do we know it's successful? It's not like we think this would be nice to have, and we think it'll have an effect. You're looking for a specific quantified impact, is that right?

Sumo Das: 29:03 Yeah, and it goes back to having an astute pulse with analytics and not just having analytics, but knowing what the numbers and for in the context of when they're being read with relation to time, which relates to the environment or with relation to link backs. Yes. In many comments, companies, if it's a product that's based on being at being disposable income, then for whatever reason there were to be an environmental impact that would impact us then populous, finances. Then those companies would be the first to be impacted among the first the impacted and for companies and brands that jump more towards they're aligned with being the utility-based outcome. They are less likely to feel the pinch, so it really matters and understanding what the context of one's own usages and use cases are and that ultimately even leads to product innovation, not just [inaudible] on the physical surface and good that an organization providing companies that are evolving in that space tend to thrive very much as well.

Allison Hartsoe: 29:51 So one of the things that Sumo you've been hitting on through the entire conversation here that I think is really salient is that 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. essentially operates just like a startup with a lot of focus, a lot of execution, a lot of the really good features that we see in successful startups. But yet as a, as a heritage brand, how did that happen? How did you take a whole bunch of people who were maybe used to doing things in a very old fashioned way, and how did this become part of the DNA of the company?

Sumo Das: 30:22 It really comes down to us being present when a user's looking for a gifting outcome and we try to be present when the user is looking for a solution for whether it's a book they gave out with it's expressing condolences, doing sympathy or doing peak years like Valentine or mother's day. It's important to be visible for them to be relevant. It's important to be a good fit for that user, and there are various ways through picking messaging and product that we've talked about the digital experience that as the physical heart, good product turn, which we're very proud of and continues to think of ways that physical goods are relevant. The actual gifts that are being developed are relevant to the customers who are then, in turn, trusting us to deliver that to them.

Allison Hartsoe: 31:04 [inaudible] being present and trusting, allowing your customers to entrust a certain amount of well trust and comfort to you when they need a gift, whether it's sympathy or mother's day. It sounds like you're really thinking about them all the time

Sumo Das: 31:20 we are and understanding that the base use cases and that drives part innovation. I design each other organization and having a strong technology team. One thing we have is the technology team today we're very, very proud of, of a pleased with that, enabled us to drive these outcomes, uh, from ideation to delivery. So between the partnerships, you have internally cross departments and that it really does become a true team effort.

Allison Hartsoe: 31:42 So I'm going to say that if I were convinced, and let's say I was Sears maybe 20 years ago, let's roll back the clock a little bit and I said, okay, what should I be doing first, second, third, based on what you just said, I should understand the use cases that are key to my business. I should make sure that I have a strong technology team that works smoothly from ideation to delivery, and I should make sure that I have maybe cross-pollination amongst the departments. How would you say it?

Sumo Das: 32:11 Yeah, that whatever is responsible for demand generation will have the greatest visibility understanding what the consumer's looking for and try and take that into a Caesar requirement that are items that are tangible for the base teams into some sort of project plan. The team will usually in some sort of go through a right sizing or privatization, which every organization needs to have, and some organizations move on this quicker than others. But once that processes in place and goes through that mechanism, hopefully, quicker and sooner than later, that then involves teams, which we'll be delivering against that. Whether you need to deploy code or need to engage with a vendor, you need to engage with another body on them so you can share services like legal important to make sure that in an era where companies are trying to move fast, companies are trying to get it to be first in market that we do our due diligence from a privacy, from a security, and from a legal standpoint, those customers come to us nervous that we are providing them the right goodness of service in a manner which is delectables to shop, as I mentioned earlier, [inaudible] secure and that we are being good stewards and stewardesses of the consumer's overall shopping experience.

Allison Hartsoe: 33:13 I love it, and that's exactly the right mentality is it's not about how can I give you more product, but am I being a good steward of the experience that you're seeking and as is my use case, helping you to find the right gifting solution. So I love how you've put that Sumo. If people want to reach you, how can they get in touch?

Sumo Das: 33:33 Sure. I do have a Twitter account. It's my full name Sumantro Das, @sumantro_das. I do have an Instagram, which I'm very active on @moderncricketer. Cricket is a sport that I play, so if you're either on Twitter or Instagram, you're welcome to reach out to me on that, and I will definitely engage back.

Allison Hartsoe: 33:50 Very nice. I love that. As always, links to everything we discussed are @ambitiondata.com/podcast Sumo, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been a pleasure to hear how an organization can really modernize inside a heritage brand through the focus and execution and the discipline that you bring, but also the passion that you bring to the organization.

Sumo Das: 34:12 Well, the pleasure's been mine and uh, thank you, Allison, really appreciate it.

Allison Hartsoe: 34:16 Remember, when you use your data effectively, you can build customer equity. It is not magic, just a very specific journey that you can follow to get results. Thank you for joining today's show. This is your host Allison Hartsoe, and I have two gifts for you. First, I've written a guide for the Customer-Centric CMO, which contains some of the best ideas from this podcast, and you can receive it right now. Simply text, ambitiondata, one word, to 31996, and after you get that white paper, you'll have the option for the second gift, which is to receive the Signal once a month. I put together a list of three to five things I've seen that represent customer equity signal, not noise. And believe me, there's a lot of noise out there. Things I include could be smart tools. I've run across articles, I've shared cool statistics, or people and companies I think are making amazing progress as they build customer equity. I hope you enjoy the CMO guide and the Signal. See you next week on the Customer Equity Accelerator.


Key Concepts: Customer Lifetime Value, Marketing, Digital Data, Customer Centricity, Long-Term Customer Value, Marketing Leaders, Analytics, Creativity, Product Development, Audience Research

Who Should Listen: CAOs, CCOs, CSOs, CDOs, Digital Marketers, Business Analysts, C-suite professionals, Entrepreneurs, eCommerce, Data Scientists, Analysts, CMOs, Customer Insights Leaders, CX Analysts, Data Services Leaders, Data Insights Leaders, SVPs or VPs of Marketing or Digital Marketing, SVPs or VPs of Customer Success, Customer Advocates, Product Managers, Product Developers

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