It’s April, which is one of the best times to visit Kashmir! That’s because of the Tulip festival that happens in Srinagar during this part of the year. The festival is home to Asia’s largest tulip garden; hence it’s the most picturesque time to be in Kashmir. That heaven aside, flowers are making the rest of earth a beautiful place to live in, as well.
Having pioneered the concept of social expression (flowers and bouquets) throughout the country, Ferns N Petals (FNP) has become a name synonymous with love, emotions and celebrations. It started with a single store in 1994 in New Delhi, India, and ventured online as fnp.com in 2002. Today, FNP is one of the largest brands in the organized flower retail industry in Asia. For today’s India Buzz column, we are in converastion with Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder & Managing Director, Ferns N Petals (FNP).
In this interview, Gutgutia discusses how Indians have become more expressive and have warmed up to e-commerce, a college student from a small town — Phagwara (Punjab) — who once ordered a shop full of flowers for his fiancée which cost him approximately Rs.1 lakh, FNP’s customization for festive occasions and the rush during Valentine’s Day.
What is the most significant consumer trend that you have observed over the years?
The consumer mindset has definitely shifted from offline shopping to experimenting with shopping via the new media. Over the years, more and more consumers are willing to shop online. Consumers lead a fast-paced life and online shopping is a blessing in disguise for them. Our website offers variety of options for customization of gifts, keeping in mind consumer requirements and tastes that we have gathered over last 19 years.
Is there a major difference in buying behavior of consumers in tier-I markets and those in smaller cities?
While tier-I consumers are relatively informed and upbeat about online shopping, we have also seen an increase in aspirations and demand from tier-II & -III markets in the past few years. FNP is keen to tap such markets, since consumer spending and purchasing power has increased exponentially in these cities. For example, 5 years ago, a college student from Phagwara (Punjab) ordered a shop full of flowers for his fiancée that cost him around Rs. 1 lakh. There was another customer who bought flowers worth Rs 1.1 lakh in Udaipur to be used for floral jewelry. There are many such examples that we witnesses every day that are often not seen in metros.
Has the growth in mobile-internet usage helped FNP in driving sales?
Thanks to the new tech-savvy consumers, mobile internet has picked up the pace in the last few years. FNP was amongst the few brands in 2001 to adopt a functional e-commerce business model. And, we hope to become pioneers in the growing mobile ecommerce too, with strategies that focus on R&D and understanding consumer behavior.
What marketing initiatives do you run to increase online popularity of FNP?
Our e-commerce website is a one-stop shop that delivers products across cities. Apart from leveraging our product portfolio on social media platforms, we also advertise within the social media space to reach out to the new-age digital consumers. We have spread our offerings across renowned online deals websites like Snapdeal, Timesdeal, etc. Customers can pre-book their orders on such websites and get the gifts delivered to their loved ones on specific dates. We recently joined up with NGPay, a cross-platform app, to enable a comprehensive and smooth buying process for our customers. We also have Loyalty Programmes, which add to our customer’s satisfaction.
How do you capitalize on festive occasions?
We always customize our website according to the upcoming festival, which makes online shopping an interesting experience for consumers. We also come up with occasion-based gifts like Holi combos, Diwali hampers, Rakhi Thalis, Easter baskets and Christmas Gifts. All these inclusions and changes definitely increase the traffic to our website. We have close to 7,000 unique visitors that visit our e-commerce portal, and the conversion ratio is close to 7%. The average ticket value is around Rs 1,250, and, around Valentine’s Day, the number of visitors almost doubles.
What goes into the preparation for the Valentine’s Day rush?
The best thing about Valentine’s Day is that people across age groups use this festival as an opportunity to socially express themselves. FNP’s business for Valentine’s Day boosts every year. We celebrate it as a festival, and the planning starts almost three months in advance. This year, we received almost 50,000 orders, out of which 35% queries were online. Overall, the offline and online business saw a growth of 25% and 60%, respectively.
At the back end, our workforce comprised of designers, delivery boys and sales representatives work ‘round the clock to deliver on our commitments. To make the occasion special, we also offer special packages, customized gifts, musical delivery and midnight delivery options. The USP of our service lies in the transparency and flexibility offered to the end consumer, enabling a smooth buying experience.
So… now you too can make every occasion beautiful with just one click. Three cheers for flower power and Ferns N Petals for spreading happiness. :yes: