Traditionally, Valentine's Day is a key date for most retailers - but they need to be geared up correctly to turn the love that's in the air, into pounds in their pockets.
Last minute shopping on Valentine's Day is nothing new but how shoppers are shopping is. Aphrodite might be the goddess of love but mobile is the god of Valentine's Day retail - and, more than ever before, these lagging lovers are making their purchases on the go.
Last year, Criteo data showed that 57% of Valentine's sales were made on mobile devices and we expect 2017 to be the same as buyers make their purchases in the final days before the event. Mobile also shows a much better conversion rate than other forms of browsing and should be central to the retailers' ecommerce strategy.
In the travel sector, we see that conversion rates on mobile are up 36% in the US and 19% in the UK compared to other devices for the booking of last minute holidays. Perhaps some canny bookers are using the more private and personal mobile device to help keep surprises hidden from their partners, ensuring pleasant surprises for their lucky other halves.
While flowers and gifts see the most significant Valentine's spike, with a 220% increase week over week, health and beauty and luxury items also see significant increases of 47% and 20% respectively in the run-up to the big day. Retailers need to make sure that their mobile and app strategy is correctly optimised to take of advantage of this shopping splurge.
The data also shows that would-be-Romeos (and Juliets) don't just buy their Valentines flowers, they also grab cards, chocolates and other gifts at the same time. Valentine's shoppers are one of the demographics most likely to buy cross-sell items. To fully maximise the potential of this day, retailers' recommendations need to be properly personalised - these are the people who will buy champagne with their roses, stuffed toys with their cards and chocolate with pretty much everything, but retailers need to make it quick and easy for them to do so.
That said, it's interesting to note that not all industries experience sales peaks at the same time.
The health and beauty sector sees two peaks around Valentine's Day, both before and after the day itself. This may well be the happy and content redeeming their considerately bought gift vouchers; or it could, of course, be the inconsiderate belatedly trying to bribe their way back out of the doghouse. It's not just before the day that gifts are bought, retailers need to be conscious of opportunity in the days after the event too.
Knowledge, as ever, is the key for online retailers. When it comes to the major shopping dates, knowing how and when your customers shop allows you to be prepared, meet their demands and deliver a successful Valentine's Day. Being able to adjust your targeting strategy and personalise recommendations to meet the demands of these shoppers is crucial.