mobile app for startup bloomthatIf you can imagine it, there’s most likely a mobile app for it. Fitness and calories trackers. Setting hair appointments. One-click shopping. Two-click banking. Games that keep us occupied when boredom arises. But wait a minute: Most apps are downloaded and never used again. Does this mean that apps are a gimmick? Or are they a viable way to offer real value to the customer and business?

For one Silicon Valley startup, their mobile app is not just providing a competitive advantage – it’s turning upside-down a $26.6 billion industry, largely controlled by three widely familiar giants. With their creative, revolutionary business model, BloomThat is creating a customer experience that makes buying flowers convenient, less frustrating, and, above all, easy. This model is growing so much in popularity that it takes six to nine months to break even in a new city. Within the 18 months it’s been in business, the startup is already expected to reach a couple million in revenue by the end of this year.

The story behind BloomThat

In the beginning, BloomThat’s founders David Bladow, Matthew Schwab, and Chad Powell made a hobby out of constructing bouquets in their backyards. Over time, this pastime became an opportunity to strip the trepidation and confusion out of picking the right flowers and having them delivered as fast as 90 minutes.

To provide such an experience, these three friends looked no further than they own romantic relationships. After working 100 hours a week at his office, Schwab found it difficult to balance his relationship and work responsibilities. “There was no place to buy flowers [at the end of my workday]. That definitely led us thinking ‘why can’t I do this on my own time?’” he reminiscences.

Making the overall buying decision easier and more accessible for consumers, BloomThat curates six to nine options on an iOS app and its e-commerce site, covering a range of styles and price points and offering on-demand delivery. “Speed and convenience are not necessarily [our industry’s] strong points, [offering] eight-hour or next-day delivery with a massive fee. It was basically a twice-a-year behavior for obligatory occasions,” Bladow remarks. However, BloomThat’s ability to infuse these two attributes into the entire buying process are convincing shoppers to order on average 11 bouquets in a 12-month time, where the industry average is 2.5.

Why a mobile app can take over an entire industry

When it comes to mobile apps, people want two things: 1) An innovative way to purchase or use a product, and 2) something that solves an everyday problem deemed impossible to fix.

Take, for example, the Apple Watch. What would have been a short-lived toy with limited functionality and a fierce price tag is changing customer behavior. How? It’s all about the apps it supports. Standard with 14 apps, it enables people to access e-mail, track fitness progress, and remotely control their televisions. By simplifying complex tasks, the apps are selling the wearable. More important, apps are transforming Apple’s business model for both maximizing customer satisfaction and growing revenue.

So what is it about mobile apps that fulfill our needs and helps a business breakthrough a highly competitive environment? Here are three reasons.

  1. Consumers spend a significant amount of time on mobile apps. According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study, over 80% of consumer time spent on their smartphones is with mobile apps. When you consider that $345 billion in online retail sales were generated in 2014, pushing products on a mobile apps may seem like an obvious sales route. However, that’s only part of the story – it’s also part of the overall buying decision.
  1. They bring an opportunity to change behavior. When a process or habit is easy, people naturally repeat it. In the case of BloomThat, this shift was evident as a twice-a-year obligation became a year-round habit to express love, friendship, gratitude, and appreciation. In the end, having an experience that is easy and satisfies a need on demand is what matters. That’s what a good mobile app delivers.
  1. Mobile apps can remove friction between the consumer and the vendor. Nothing is more frustrating than going through pages and pages of gift options that do not fit the exact the need. BloomThat took the confusion and fear out of the experience by offering limited, yet viable, options that meet a range of requirements on a mobile app. And with a few clicks and the option to have it delivered within 90 minutes, simplification and accessibility become the reigning consumer value. Besides, shouldn’t this always be the case when giving a gift?

Mobile apps are becoming a platform for evolving customer expectations and inspiring new brands. By creating apps that perform an integrated, enjoyable, and convenient service, businesses – no matter the size and industry – can engage customers throughout the purchase path while proving the relevance and value of the product.

BloomThat has proven did it. And if you can too, big opportunities lie ahead.