For consumers, Valentine's Day may be all about romance, candies and flowers, but for retailers it represents big business. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend more than $18 billion on Valentine's Day. They'll spend approximately $1.6 billion on candy, $1.9 billion on flowers and $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold and silver. Clearly, Valentine's Day is hardly a sweet nothing.
With so much at stake, how are retailers supposed to capture the hearts, minds and, more importantly, the wallets of consumers? The wide array of merchandise choices presented to today's consumers, coupled with the fact that online retailers never close, makes the task of moving shoppers from awareness to purchase overwhelming for both brick-and-mortar and online merchants.
To find out how digital can best be leveraged for this purpose, Adroit Digital recently conducted a study of 1,000 shoppers to find out the role it will play in their decision-making process. Here's what we uncovered:
- Expect clicks: More than half of all survey respondents (59 percent) indicated a preference to purchase their Valentine's Day gifts online this year, including via smartphones and tablets, as opposed to physical retail store locations.
- Influence with ads: The majority of consumers in the survey, 58 percent, indicated online ads, including tablet and mobile ads, would affect their Valentine's Day purchase decision.
- Get personal: Thirty-six percent of shoppers in the survey said they were 50 percent more likely to respond to a personalized ad than a generic ad. By using big data wisely (e.g., predictive consumer models), there's an opportunity for retailers to better target their ads to a shopper's recent activity in real time. This could increase the odds of capturing the desired shopper and their dollars.
- Offer deals: When it comes to Valentine's Day, shoppers love a deal. Eighty-one percent of respondents indicated that they will look for a deal or discount online prior to making a purchase, either online or at a retail location. Retailers with the ability to promote deals and discounts online will be giving shoppers what they want. Hopefully, in a quid pro quo, shoppers will reward those retailers with their dollars.
- Reap rewards with free shipping: Eighty-three percent of shoppers indicated free shipping would lead them to select one retailer over another. As more states begin to collect sales tax on online purchases, free shipping remains a key advantage of purchasing online. Without that, despite convenience, some online retailers may lose their advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
- Drive them to the final purchase: When shoppers are making their online purchase decisions for Valentine's Day, they'll be looking for a few key offers. If they don't find them, they'll seek the same merchandise on another retailer's site. Sixty-four percent would seek another site if free shipping wasn't offered, and 48 percent would move on if they didn't see Valentine's Day specials.
- Add variety: Two other key factors merchants should take into consideration are providing a wide variety of merchandise on their site and offering a variety of price points. Thirty-six percent of shoppers would leave a retailer's homepage if it lacked selection, and 34 percent would leave if they weren't able to find a selection of merchandise at various price points.
With so much at stake (the bulk of all Valentine's Day sales are occurring now through Feb. 14), retailers will need to pay special attention to attracting shoppers and identifying specific tactics that encourage them to purchase. By leveraging all that's offered from the various channels they have at their disposal, including mobile devices, merchants can better connect with consumers throughout the sales funnel. Consider this your Cupid's arrow.
Glenn Humble is the director of marketing and communications at Adroit Digital, a digital marketing firm.