Ferns N Petals Is Tech-Ready to Deliver in 170 Countries

FNP Plans to Move Away From Monolithic, Siloed Technologies
Ferns N Petals Is Tech-Ready to Deliver in 170 Countries
Vasanth Kamatgi, CTO, Ferns N Petals

Ferns N Petals (FNP), a household name in India's gifting industry, started with flower bouquet delivery from a single flower shop in New Delhi, India, in 1994. Today, it operates more than 400 franchise outlets in 125 cities across India and aims to have more than 1,000 outlets in the next three years. With over 10,000 stock-keeping units and serving more than 2 million customers in Indian, South East Asian and Middle East markets, it recently raised $15 million from private equity firm Lighthouse to fuel its expansion within and outside India. Pushing its agenda for digital transformation, FNP has two key objectives: application modernization and seamless customer experience (CX). Today, the company, operating in 6 to 7 countries besides India, claims to be tech-ready for same-day delivery in 170 countries.

Vasanth Kamatgi, CTO of Ferns N Petals, talks about how the company wants to move away from monolithic, siloed technologies to modern microservices-based architecture to give its customers an experience they never had in the past.

The interview mainly covers FNP's:

  • Application modernization journey;
  • Robust customer data platform;
  • Cloud strategy;
  • Process automation.

Edited excerpts follow:

To start with, give us a brief overview of FNP's technology roadmap for the next 2 to 3 years, including the outcomes the company aims to achieve through it.

Application modernization is one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the company. The aim is to migrate from disparate systems to a microservices-based architecture. It is like starting from scratch. The second key driver for tech is to better customer experience across all touchpoints. This will be done through process automation at the backend and a revolutionary approach toward user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Using Jarvis, we have already made a lot of progress on the UI front. From the time a customer comes to our portal, to order tracking, and fulfillment, we have been able to make it quite seamless and frictionless. This is precisely what we are planning to do in the next couple of years.

What have been the most pressing issues that you've identified and are solving by deploying the right technology?

In our business, order processing and order fulfillment are two crucial steps that can make or break the business. Most orders that FNP processes are for products, which, if not delivered in time, are almost useless or perishable. For example, flowers, cakes, chocolates, etc. The entire customer experience will be hampered if these are not delivered fresh. To overcome these challenges, besides the frontend tech, we have also used innovation to build a robust inventory and warehouse management system. From the time of order shipment to the last-mile delivery, it is the technology backbone that comes in handy.

Besides order fulfillment, customer service is equally challenging. It is crucial that we provide a seamless experience for our customers. To fulfill the expectations of the modern generation, FNP is enabling social commerce and integrating it with the backend so that we can provide an omnichannel experience.

Another key challenge is to generate sales leads based on historical data. This has a direct impact on the company's revenue and repeat orders. AI/ML-based tools help in fulfilling this. However, this is a work in progress.

To capture the customer data and customer life cycle, has FNP invested in any customer data platform (CDP)? What is your strategy?

We gauge the CX on two fronts: the number of complaints and customer attrition. The business continuously asked us how can technology help in mapping the customer journey. And therefore, during 2019-20, we embarked on an ambitious project to get a 360-degree view of FNP customers. We needed to find their stickiness, trust, longevity, revenue spent, etc. That was when we decided to invest in CDP, which was secure by design and compliant with data privacy norms. It is sensitive customer data, after all. Be it online or offline, this platform helps us capture customer interactions. We built a data lake to fuel the CDP. For the last year or so, we have been successfully gathering key statistics to know our customers better. The outcome: Our campaigns are now better targeted. We have better open and click-through rates.

How future-ready is FNP to support geographical and order volume expansion?

Though we currently operate only in India and 6 to 7 other countries, we have the technological prowess to deliver orders on the same day across 170 countries. We are continuously innovating our enterprise resource planning and order management system. Ninety percent of our processes have zero manual intervention. We have developed an app "Ghar Tak" (up to home) - a last-mile delivery app keeping in mind the needs of delivery agents. To be future-ready, FNP will gradually migrate most of its workloads to the cloud but be cloud agnostic - not dependent on a particular provider. We will choose the best cloud instance suitable for a particular workload. This will help us scale up and down as per demand forecasts.

Among all other things, an important area earmarked for improvement is the IT systems audit. It helps in identifying the areas where processes can be automated, thus saving costs and using skilled workforce in more innovative ways.

Our journey with artificial intelligence has given us good outcomes in improving supply chain efficiency and understanding customer behavior. We will pursue it more aggressively.

In the end, all I would say is that our technology roadmap is fully aligned with the business to achieve employee productivity, delivery accuracy and build customer trust. Every millisecond saved for customers results in a superior experience.

About the Author

Smruti Gandhi

Smruti Gandhi

Executive Editor, ISMG

Gandhi has more than a decade of experience in community engagement and incubating industry events. She is extremely proactive in building engagements with communities including CEO, CFOs and CIOs. Prior to joining ISMG, she worked with Dun & Bradstreet and Great Place to Work.

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