Simply Chocolate, the year-old gifting and chocolate appreciation platform developed by 1-800-Flowers.com, is heading into Valentine’s Day with four new partner brands.
Ethel M, Jacques Torres, Knipschildt and Kohler are the latest to have exclusive products featured on Simply Chocolate, which launched in November 2017 to fill a portfolio gap after 1-800-Flowers sold the Fannie May and Harry London brands to Ferrero Group.
Steve Druckman, president of 1-800-Flowers’ Midwest Gourmet Food Group, said the company wanted to fill the portfolio space with more than premium chocolate gifting options.
“We toyed a lot with this,” he said. “Are we a marketplace? Are we a destination? Are we our own brand? And ultimately, we decided we want to be everything. We want to be a destination for chocolate lovers. We want to be a place where you can find great brands, but we also want to develop our own product.”
In addition to offering products under the Simply Chocolate brand, 1-800-Flowers initially partnered with a dozen high-end names, with Fannie May among them. Now, visitors to the site can shop 17 brands, as well as by format, occasion and price.
Druckman noted an internal panel evaluates potential partner brands first by taste, and then by packaging and presentation. Once they’ve made the cut, 1-800-Flowers works with the brands to select from existing products and create exclusive site offerings.
“It has to be something that we feel really good about if we’re recommending our customers to try for themselves or give as a gift,” he said. “We’re going to stand behind every single product on our site.”
Druckman added that 1-800-Flowers will continue to review potential partner brands, but in the meantime, the focus is on communicating the history, mission and quality of each established partner.
“At this stage, it’s really about making sure we promote the partners and the offers we have today in a really big way and making sure they get the exposure they want as well,” he said. “It’s certainly a partnership, and we want them to be as excited as we are to have them on the site.”
Over the last year, 1-800-Flowers has also expanded Simply Chocolate’s social and educational components. Under the “Explore Chocolate” tab, chocolate lovers are encouraged to share photos on social media with the #simplychocolate tag. There are also recipes, videos and articles on chocolate, profiles on partner chocolatiers and lists of the best chocolate shops in major U.S. cities.
“There’s a lot of information out there, but we felt like all that information was all over the place,” Druckman said. “There’s not one central place where you could find a number of great brands and you can find a great repository of real information to help drive the love and passion of chocolate.”
While retention isn’t easy to measure after 15 months, Druckman noted, he said he anticipates continued growth.
“Early signs show this is going to be a sticky site, this is going to be a site people are coming back to multiple times within the year and trying it for different for occasions,” he said.