Retailers are moving into Valentine’s Day shopping mode, with themed emails likely to increase sharply now that the Super Bowl is over. Good news for retailers: Online Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to spend an average of $175.80, or 31 percent more than all Valentine’s Day shoppers, according to NRF’s annual survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics. As usual, Valentine celebrants are truly multichannel shoppers, not only planning to buy online but also in department stores, discount stores, specialty stores, florists and more.
But there’s a little twist to online Valentine shopping, at least for jewelry and gifts like flowers and chocolates: last year, Adobe found shoppers for those items will wait until the last minute even when shopping online. If patterns hold from previous years, retailers can expect most of their Valentine jewelry and gift sales to occur in the four days leading up to February 14, which falls on a Friday this year. By contrast, the same analysis showed other categories such as electronics and sporting goods remained more flat leading up to the big day.
That means retailers should be prepared for a rush of orders next week. With reports of gifts arriving late during the winter holidays still fresh in consumers’ memory, retailers will want to make sure they’re prepared:
Leverage stores with ship-from-store. Multichannel retailers understand that their network of stores can be a key competitive factor: 42 percent surveyed in our post-holiday study said they are implementing or expanding “ship-from-store” delivery service. Indeed, STELLAservice found Best Buy started to beat Amazon’s delivery timeframes in the second half of 2013. The key? Best Buy began fulfilling web orders from more than 50 of its 1,500 U.S. stores.
Leverage stores with “click-and-collect.” Retailers who offer an option to buy online but pick up in the store should tap all of their customer touch points to let shoppers know. Search may be one of the most powerful means to get the word out – a recent Google holiday consumer study found searchers are 1.5x more likely to buy than those who don’t use search. Be sure the option is also well-messaged in email and other digital marketing.
For mobile consumers, Rimm-Kaufman’s Ryan Gibson says geo-targeting and proximity bidding can target on-the-go shoppers for specific store locations. Email and affiliate marketing, as well as promoting the service on the home page and in the store, will further promote this valuable service to those shopping last-minute.
Meet with shipping partners this week. Don’t forget fulfillment planning basics, starting with coordination meetings with shipping partners. While volumes won’t come close to holiday-season levels, retailers should nevertheless collaborate with shippers partners to review forecasts, shipping peaks and backup plans in the event of delays caused by weather or other unforeseen events.
Online Valentine’s Day shopper snapshot
Mobile will be a shopping resource. Mobile devices are important for many online Valentine’s Day shoppers this year, so retail mobile sites should be ready with well-placed store and product information and snappy load times. One-third of online shoppers who own smartphones expect to use them to research products and compare prices. More than one in five will look up retailer information such as location and store hours and, yes, purchase items, among other shopping activities. For online shoppers who own tablets, almost half plan to research products and compare prices, and one-third will purchase items on the device.
For the undecided and (very) last-minute shoppers, market gift cards. Nearly one-quarter of online Valentine shoppers plan to buy gift cards, so retailers should include these in emails and strategic locations on their site. Highlighting gift card features such as personalization and print-at-home or email delivery will enhance this offering. During the past holiday season, online shoppers ages 18-34 were more than twice as likely as others to personalize gift cards with an audio or video clip (14 percent) or with a photo (27 percent).
Visit the Shop.org website to download the consumer shopping outlook results for Valentine’s Day.