1-800-FLOWERS Cuts Online Credit-Card Authorization Time

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1-800-FLOWERS has slashed credit-card authorization for its online orders from 20 minutes to about four seconds.

"In our business, we have a tremendous volume of orders that are for same-day delivery, so we are really trying to provide another level of service for our customers and want to get back to them right away," said Donna Iucolano, director of interactive services at 1-800-FLOWERS, Westbury, NY.

Her company used to download customers' credit-card numbers from its Web server, place them in a batch file and send them to a credit- card-processing center. About 20 minutes later, 1-800-FLOWERS would e-mail the customers informing them that the credit card had been approved or declined.

Now, 1-800-FLOWERS uses a plug-in software module from order-processing network OrderTrust, Lowell, MA, that connects to its Web server. OrderTrust captures customers' payment information from the Web site, transfers the information to its secure system, routes the information to the payment processor for approval and sends a verification of the order back to customers.

The process takes a matter of seconds because OrderTrust catches orders directly from the Internet through its plug-in software module and sends them to 1-800-FLOWERS' payment processor through a dedicated line.

Since about 40 percent of 1-800-FLOWERS' orders are for same-day delivery, according to Iucolano, the real-time authorization offered by OrderTrust has become crucial.

"For example, if you put in an order for same-day delivery, we guarantee that order so long as it is placed by 2 p.m. in the area of delivery," she explained. "But if you don't put that order in until 2 p.m. and there has been a delay at the credit-card-processing facility, then we might not be able to get back to you until after 3 p.m. with a problem on your credit card. So then we have missed that opportunity of same-day delivery."

For a nonholiday month, 1-800-FLOWERS expects between 30,000 and 35,000 online orders and, during such holidays as Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, nearly 100,000 for that particular month.

"By selecting OrderTrust, we have offset the risk and up-front investment 1-800-FLOWERS would have incurred had we opted to build this infrastructure in-house," Iucolano said.

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