Alan Du ’17, From You Flowers

Alan-DuMy Princeternship at, hosted by Mr. Spencer Lucian, ORFE ’08, was an extremely valuable experience. I entered the Princeternship lacking any experience in e-commerce.  Now, after spending two days with Spencer and his colleagues, I am well versed in the areas of digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), predictive forecasting, and business operations. Furthermore, I got an inside look on how a successful business is run; From You Flowers is the 5th largest flower-selling company in the U.S.

Day 1

Spencer began with a broadAlan 2 overview of the company and his role as VP of Business Operations. The company serves as a same-day nationwide flower delivery service, by both shipping from its own warehouses and utilizing a national florist network. Spencer showed my fellow Princetern and I the platform on which, in combination with Google Analytics, the company does its analysis of operations and performance. Impressively, Spencer coded this entire platform from the ground up in Python.

For the rest of the day, we met with other members of the company. We talked to Dave Palms ’11, who is also involved with operations and business intelligence. Dave discussed other aspects of the analysis platform, pointing out certain trends that the team noticed when particular tests were applied to investigate the effects of a marketing technique. We also participated in a meeting between Dave and the email-marketing specialist—we discussed the results of a test from the day before, in which a percentage discount was offered to some people on the email list and free shipping was offered to other people on the email list.

Later in the day, we spent time with the VP of Digital Marketing, who talked about advertising on Google and other search engines. We discussed cost-per-click for Google AdWords, along with in-site advertising based on previously browsed websites. It was very interesting to learn about how digital advertising is becoming increasingly more predictive—marketers are attempting to predict what one is likely to buy and display relevant advertisements in the websites one browses through.

Day 2

We met with members of the IT team to discuss predictive forecasting. I was particularly interested in this aspect of the company, considering that an inaccurate forecasting for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day would have enormous consequences. An IT specialist walked us through his forecasting work in Excel and methods of estimating quarterly or yearly growth. We also listened to a discussion between Spencer and the IT specialist about this year’s Mother’s Day forecast.

A notable event during the day was sitting in on a conference call between a few members of From You Flowers and a few members of an email service provider. This call was part of multi-day pitch to attract the business of From You Flowers. It was beneficial to see how conference calls and pitching work between businesses; I found the stark contrast between the sales and technical aspects of the pitch quite interesting. After the call, Spencer provided us with insights on additional aspects of sales pitches and how he evaluates sales offers.

The Princeternship wasAlan 3 a very rewarding experience. Not only did I learn so much about e-commerce, but throughout my stay I also received extremely helpful career advice for both my time at Princeton and after graduation. To top it off, at the end of the second day we participated in the company-wide bowling tournament!