Friday, January 30, 2015

Delivering Customer Delight on Valentine’s Day

By: Fiona Swerdlow

The new consumer online shopping outlook for Valentine’s Day is in — and it spells good news for retailers. According to the latest consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for NRF, one-quarter of Valentine’s Day shoppers this year plan to make some portion of their purchases online. Another positive sign: Prosper’s Consumer Snapshot found that consumer confidence has risen for the third consecutive month. With these results in mind, shoppers planning to buy Valentine’s Day gifts online anticipate:
  • Spending an average of $199, up 13 percent from last year, and a good 40 percent more than the average across all Valentine’s Day shoppers.
  • Treating family and friends — the lion’s share of spending will go to significant others and spouses, but other family members, friends, co-workers and even pets will feel the love. 
  • Shopping for tried and true Valentine’s Day categories — retailers selling candy, greeting cards, flowers and jewelry will be among the most popular with Valentine’s Day shoppers, who plan to shop both online and in stores.
  • Tapping mobile devices to find, research and buy gifts — smartphone owners shopping for the occasion expect to use their devices to buy products, redeem coupons and more. Additionally, almost one in 10 expect to use it to pay for their purchases at checkout.

Retailers need to make sure they are on top of their game to delight and inspire customers in the coming weeks:

Coordinate fulfillment strategies and tactics to meet last-minute customer demand. Two years ago, Adobe found that Valentine’s Day spending on jewelry and gifts leapt the week before Valentine’s Day, but really spiked the week of and the days leading up to the holiday. With Valentine’s Day fortuitously falling on a Saturday this year, retailers may see shopping right through the big day. Promoting last-minute fulfillment capabilities via in-store pick up or same-day delivery services will resonate with time-starved customers. Just as with the big holiday season, retailers should coordinate well in advance with shipping partners to review volume forecasts and back-up plans to avoid delays — especially since winter weather can be unpredictable in many areas.

Tie together touchpoints. With consumers fluidly shopping across a retailer’s many touchpoints, Victoria’s Secret’s “digitally enabled” catalog allows smartphone users to download its app, get fit advice via a quiz and access product information to encourage purchases. Gap and Talbots both provide a “Reserve in Store” service that allows customers to shop online, then visit the store to try on items that have been set aside for them to try on before deciding to buy.

Make gift guides and gift suggestions pop online and in-store. Marketed and merchandised well, gift guides can inspire ideas for every customer. A far cry from the static image collage of yesteryear, Luxury Daily exhorts brands to “tell stories [and] spark emotion.” Tiffany & Co.’s Valentine’s Day gift guide features the witty “Concierge of Love” in a video series to help the gift giver with five different situations — like “unlock her heart” and “the most brilliant proposal” — each with a “shop the video” link to explore products, save for later review and buy on the spot.

Tune marketing strategies to assist customers but don’t give away the surprise. As for all seasonal shopping occasions, retailers are honing their digital marketing strategies to make sure they’re front and center when the customer is ready to find, research and buy. As Mobile Marketer points out, however, retargeting ads can be trickier in situations where people share devices and could potentially spoil the surprise, so paying attention to context in retargeting may help alleviate this situation.

Get a head start on your Valentine’s Day marketing and merchandising plans by checking out the full consumer survey details on

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