Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Steve Lightman, group president, gourmet foods & gift baskets, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., about COVID-19 challenges and growth for the Harry & David brand.
Liz Parker: What growth have you seen with the Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.?
Steve Lightman: We’ve been accelerating our business growth across our portfolio of brands for the past few years and we have seen strong growth in all three of our business segments—including our Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment, led by Harry & David. This segment has seen consistent growth and reported a revenue increase of 26.3 percent in the company’s most recent earnings report. These results were due to strong e-commerce growth of more than 97 percent—driven by everyday occasions. We’ve seen everyday occasions, which have always been a big part of our business, take on new meaning as people want to reach out and celebrate special events like anniversaries, birthdays, and more from afar.
We are well-positioned to maintain our strong growth momentum and will continue to invest and innovate in areas that help elevate the shopping experience as we seek to help customers express, connect and celebrate this holiday season and year-round.
LP: How has COVID affected this?
SL: In the context of this pandemic, our business has continued to perform well as people have been increasingly turning to our family of brands to help them connect and express themselves, something that is more important than ever during the ongoing health crisis.
We have found ourselves in a unique position to be able to help our customers reach out and connect with others who they cannot be with in-person. Additionally, with more people wanting to stay home, we are seeing strong demand for self-consumption items, such as those found within our Harry & David Gourmet collection—a growing category of our business, which was created for everyday entertaining and sharing. We expect the entire Harry & David Gourmet offering will continue to be in great demand with customers, particularly comfort foods, easy to prepare meals, wine, plus meats, seafood and charcuterie.
In today’s environment, people need connection—as evidenced by all the video calls, virtual parties and more that people have been participating in. Companies like ours are well-positioned to continue to help people express, connect and celebrate during this time and beyond.
LP: How has Harry & David transformed from a predominantly mail-order catalog business into a leading e-commerce destination for gourmet food and gifts?
SL: Our Harry & David brand has undergone a significant digital transformation. Since joining the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. family of brands in 2014, Harry & David has gone from a predominately mail-order catalog business to an e-commerce destination for gourmet food and gifts. While today, we still mail out millions of catalogs, the business is now primarily online. By prioritizing digital transformation, product expansion and customer engagement, we have sustained strong growth and captured the attention of both new and loyal Harry & David shoppers.
We began with an initial website redesign and progressed to making significant innovations to the shopping experience—including new discovery features, robust search capabilities, personalized content, a new seamless mobile experience, and more. In conjunction with the digital transformation, and to deepen our relationships with customers, we repositioned the brand around the power of sharing to engage with customers on an emotional level and cultivate meaningful relationships with them.
We also launched Harry & David Gourmet, a collection of distinctive gourmet fare created for everyday entertaining, sharing and self-consumption. In addition, we expanded on our well-known Fruit of the Month club by introducing a subscription service—allowing customers to get their favorite Harry & David items, including Moose Munch popcorn and our popular snack mixes, delivered to their doorstep each month while “paying as you go.”
Consumers have responded well—we have been able to continue to cater to our established loyal customer base while attracting an increasing number of new customers.
LP: How has COVID-19 impacted the company, and how has the company been engaging the communities you serve?
SL: In today’s environment, consumers are looking to connect with others and express themselves more than ever—a sentiment that we believe will be a long-lasting impact of this pandemic. As a company, we’re helping people create more meaningful and deeper connections through not only our products, but through customer engagement as well.
We are showing our customers the many ways we can help them connect with the important people in their lives—whether it is through our products, complimentary offerings such as eCards, or in our customer communications. In our communications, we’re offering support to our customers by sharing tips for staying connected with friends, recommending DIY projects to do with the kids, providing recipes they can try at home, and more.
Additionally, throughout the health crisis, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. and its family of brands have been giving back to the communities we serve through our Community Connections Outreach Program, in which we have prioritized helping and celebrating frontline workers across the country through product donations and other initiatives.
Our company has donated hundreds of palettes of food to food banks, charities, frontline workers and hospitals since the pandemic started. We’ve also celebrated local heroes by donating hundreds of bouquets to frontline workers across the country, nominated by our customers, to honor and thank them during this time. Our Harry & David brand also had the opportunity to help hospitals in its hometown of Medford, Oregon by donating materials used to create ventilator filters for patients suffering from COVID-19.
We value the important role we are playing in helping people stay connected with others during this unprecedented time.