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Cutting it too close on your Valentine's gift? This technology can save you

The SmartGift app allows 1-800-Flowers.com customers who order

The SmartGift app allows 1-800-Flowers.com customers who order late to avoid missing the mark on Valentine's Day. Credit: 1-800-Flowers.com

Last-minute shoppers, fret not!

1-800-Flowers.com, a Carle Place-based online florist and gift retailer, hopes to be your saving grace this Valentine's Day. 

Using technology developed by Brooklyn technology startup SmartGift, the company aims to help customers who order late to avoid getting the cold shoulder — even if their significant other's  actual gift doesn’t arrive on Feb. 14.

SmartGift can also save the giver who ordered flowers when  his or her sweetie would rather get chocolates.

Here's how it works: As soon as the gift giver places an order, the recipient is notified (via text, email, Facebook or any other messaging platform) that a special something is on the way. The recipient then has the option to accept the gift or exchange it. 

Recipients may swap for a gift of equal or lesser value across 1-800-Flowers' family of brands,  select their preferred delivery date and address, and send the giver a digital thank-you note. The brand options include Cheryl's Cookies, Moose Munch and The Popcorn Factory.

"We worked closely with the SmartGift team to develop the 1-800-Flowers customized experience and began implementing it last spring," a company spokesman said.

"The idea is for the gifted to have a stress-free shopping experience, eliminating uncertainty over whether a recipient will like a gift or not, and where and when a gift should be sent. And for last-minute gift givers it can truly save the day." 

Monika Kochhar, CEO and founder of SmartGift, said the e-gifting technology launched by her company 18 months ago was created with the goal of simplifying a "very complex process": buying for others. 

"Buying for other people is hard," she said. "There are so many things to consider — is this the right size? Is this color OK? Is this something they actually want? SmartGift gets rid of a lot of that guesswork." 

The platform can turn a potentially bad situation into a positive one very quickly, she said.

"Imagine a man who forgot to buy his sweetheart a gift, waking up thinking 'Oh crap, it's Valentine's Day,' and he can just go online and text his woman a gift," said Kochhar.

"It's a great text to get — she's given the decision-making power and joy of choosing to accept it or swap it." 

And apparently gift givers need all the help they can get. More than half of SmartGift recipients choose to exchange their gift for another item before it ships, she said. For recipients of apparel, the number climbs to 70 percent.  

Retailers using SmartGift include high-end luggage company Tumi; clothing companies Express, Tory Burch and Under Armour; and electronics store B&H Photo Video.

Chris McCaan, CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com, said  "the highly personalized experience" offered by SmartGift helps make gifting effortless and fun. 

"We're always looking for new ways to empower customers to act upon their thoughtfulness," he said. 

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