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Vatentine’s Day eCommerce: Going steady with digital


Valentine’s Day is synonymous with beautiful bouquets, succulent sweets, and romantic rendezvous. Everyone’s goal on February 14th is to impress that special someone, and people are willing to spend money to do so.

The NRF estimates that Americans will have spent $19.6 billion to make this year’s Valentine’s Day one to remember. Despite these staggering numbers, 2018’s spend will fall in line with overall trends. Spending has remained surprisingly consistent since 2012, ranging between $17 billion and $20 billion.

What IS surprising about this year’s heart-shaped holiday is where consumers are spending their money.

According to the NRF, the top planned Valentine’s purchases are candy (55%), cards (46%), and flowers (36%), with higher-end items such as jewelry rounding out the table. These items follow very traditional commerce patterns: customers walk into a store, select their products, and purchase them.

However, like everything else in the retail industry, Valentine’s Day shopping is moving online.

Valentine’s Day eCommerce

According to a One Hour Translations survey, 34.8% of US Valentine’s shoppers planned to buy their gifts online in 2018. Though it seems low, this is a huge number given Valentine’s Day gifts. Here’s why:

First, as someone who has botched a V-Day gift or two, when it comes to February 14th the pressure is on. Shoppers want to make sure their gifts are perfect, leading them to shop in stores where they can see, smell, and configure their gifts. Furthermore, candy retailers and flower shops tend to be small, localized businesses who rely on foot traffic and seasonality – not a website – to drive sales.

Second, Valentine’s Day is very much a last-minute holiday. Shoppers usually buy their gifts on the 13th or 14th to ensure product quality and maximize the surprise (and not because they forgot when Valentine’s Day was…right guys?). Until recently, online merchants had no way to compete with the holiday’s exceptionally tight order and delivery windows.

Addressing this second point is why Valentine’s Day eCommerce spiked in 2018 even though the holiday’s sales were mostly flat. Jumpshot published an insightful report that really hammers this point home.

The marketing analytics firm looked at conversion rates for multiple flower retailers who sold products and delivery online in 2018. What they found was that conversion absolutely skyrockets on February 12th and 13th, supporting the assertion that shoppers wait until the last second to buy their gifts.

Valentine's Day eCommerce

It’s not just the conversion growth that sticks out, though. It is the magnitude of conversions that makes this data truly interesting. All three of 1-800-flowers, Proflowers, and Edible Arrangements posted conversion rates of over 20% on February 13th. Edible Arrangements was still above 20% for its same-day delivery service on Valentine’s Day itself.

The Takeaway

Valentine’s Day commerce used to be conducted almost exclusively in-store. Consumers loved the convenience of eCommerce, but merchants were unable to fulfill the super-slim ordering and delivery needs to make digital a viable Valentine’s channel. Jumpshot’s data shows us that these merchants have optimized their businesses and systems to enable digital Valentine’s Day commerce on the shopper’s terms.

Looking forward, this holiday will continue to sway in the direction of eCommerce. Mobile Valentine’s conversion grew 37% in 2018; look for this trend to continue its exponential growth in the years to come. Companies with same-day ordering capabilities and have super-simple purchase flows will see huge returns when it comes to tapping into the ~ $20 billion Valentine’s Day market.

After 2018, we can all agree that shoppers are falling in love with Valentine’s Day eCommerce.