April 13, 2021
1-800-Flowers faces the same cold-start problem any consumer-facing business might face: It doesn’t know exactly what its customers need when they first come to its website. What’s more unique to the platform which operates through a network of local florists and affiliates worldwide, though, is that each time a customer comes to its site, they may have a different end goal in mind. Consumers shop for gifts and floral arrangements for different occasions — as varied as funerals, birthdays, and holidays — which can make it difficult for technology to recommend the best product during a specific online shopping session.
In Season 2, Episode 3, of the Me, Myself, and AI podcast, 1-800-Flowers president Amit Shah explains the company’s unique challenge as a platform business and engagement brand facing this perennial cold-start problem. He also shares his insights into why marketers may have a leg up in working with AI and machine learning, how to foster a team of curious learners, and why it’s important to tolerate failures.
Read more about our show and follow along with the series at https://sloanreview.mit.edu/audio-series/me-myself-and-ai.
Me, Myself, and AI is a collaborative podcast from MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group and is hosted by Sam Ransbotham and Shervin Khodabandeh. Our engineer is David Lishansky, and the coordinating producers are Allison Ryder and Sophie Rüdinger.
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Amit Shah has a proven track record for leading e-commerce marketing strategies while rapidly scaling user acquisition and revenue streams. As president of 1-800-Flowers.com (since August 2020), he is responsible for leading the operations and management of the 1-800-Flowers.com brand. Since joining the company in September 2011, Shah has held several roles of increasing responsibility, most recently serving as chief marketing officer from March 2017 to August 2020.