After being introduced to Internet entrepreneurship through the eLab, I became interested in e-commerce and what it takes to run a successful business, both of which I was exposed to in ample quantity at FromYouFlowers.com. Three days at the New York marketing office offered an in-depth look at their daily operations, from product management to paid search, and of course, more than I ever thought I’d know about flowers.
Though my toes almost became casualties of the Polar Vortex, my mood was still high as Michael Chiang ’17 and I arrived at From You Flowers on Tuesday morning. , After meeting our host Spencer Lucian ‘08 and fellow alum David Palms ‘11, we were immersed into the business by way of a marketing meeting, which was probably the best way to do it. To summarize the company’s progress over the past year, each person used both industry and position specific terminology that we could pick up on and later discuss with them individually. In these subsequent conversations, I learned about varying topics such as the role networks play in the flower business, what a conversion pixel is, the massive parts Google and Amazon are playing in shaping the future of e-commerce, and how software is constantly evolving to help companies get to know their customers better. Beyond this profession-specific learning (and in some cases practice), we were also able to discuss openly with everyone at From You Flowers about everything from NASA to their career paths to advice on staying current in their field; however, just as important was the deep and passionate conversation that analyzed the homes on House Hunters International over delectable New York sandwiches at lunch.
An overall takeaway with respect to my career considerations was the importance of data-driven decision making in e-commerce. Although there are many areas in which to specialize – affiliate services, social media, SEO, website design, and email marketing, to name a few – within the blanket of e-commerce, they all invite data input and analysis in order to be done well. An aptitude for making sense of numbers is definitely an asset when the order and number of products on a page can make a significant difference in conversion. For instance, tests in which half the visitors view one site layout and half view another are run regularly; a comparison of product checkouts or item codes will then allow a more informed (and tested) decision about best practices moving forward, and this method of continual hypothesis and testing really appealed to me as an engineer.
One of the highlights of the trip was definitely the evening of the first day, after which I thought I might need a week to digest everything I’d seen so far. However, as I now know, a Tuesday without some Mandatory Fun is no Tuesday at all. The entire office invited us along to their weekly bowling night, which was such a fun time; we got to continue getting to know everyone on a personal level while laughing – a lot – at gutterballs. This was just one of the ways in which this Princeternship was extremely rewarding; I am now so much more confident in my desire to pursue a career in business, and e-commerce is definitely here to stay, so I’ll be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity should it present itself. I want to take this chance to express my deep gratitude to Spencer and David for making this level of trip possible, Mike Chapin, for opening up his company to us, and of course everyone who took time out of their day to explain what they do and why they love it – thank you all for a wonderful experience!