Five tips for Valentine’s Day sales
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Mike Shapaker
10th February 2017
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Valentine’s Day has become one of the hottest days in the e-commerce calendar. Following the Christmas shopping and January sales periods, 14th February is a great opportunity for online retailers to rekindle their relationship with consumers – if they employ the right marketing tactics.

Shoppers have long used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to shower their loved ones with adoration, praise, and, yes, gifts. In recent years the scope and scale have increased, with more shoppers shelling out on partners, friends, children and even their pets to convey their affection. While cards, flowers and chocolate can still be found in baskets, consumers are now opening their hearts and wallets to more elaborate gift ideas. This has offered a fantastic opportunity for retailers looking to boost online sales and attract and retain new customers.

Retailers should capitalise on this sentiment and plan a dedicated strategy for Valentine’s. It may be only days away, but just like that “weeks of planning heartfelt” gift, some things can still be convincingly delivered on time. Here are five top tips to boost e-commerce in the run up to the day:

Fall in love with the marketplace

Consumers can be fickle; even the most brand-loyal shopper will often divert their attentions from a retailer’s own e-commerce platform to a marketplace, lured by product offers and greater choice. But all is not lost for retailers: Just embrace the opportunities presented by marketplace platforms instead.

It is important to make the most of a potential sales surge before Valentine’s Day and ensure that products are listed on the relevant marketplaces for your target audience. Amazon and eBay are the darlings of the marketplace industry. If you have products specifically suitable for Valentine’s Day, take advantage of the promotional opportunities available on these marketplaces to ensure your products are not only visible to prospective customers locally, but also globally, thanks to the sheer reach of the platforms.

Practice makes perfect: Multichannel marketing

An effective Valentine’s Day e-commerce strategy should utilise all digital channels available to today’s modern marketer. This includes touch points email marketing, product listing ads (PLAs), pay-per-click (PPC), social media and even video platforms. A multichannel strategy should also speak to shoppers who prefer to browse Valentine’s gifts in a high street store; free WiFi, branded iPads and digital kiosks which direct shoppers to a greater selection whilst in store can all help drive sales.

Everyone wants to feel special, and a multichannel marketing strategy must address this. Make sure content, product offers, and content style and tone are adjusted and appropriate for different channels. Garnering the attention of an Instagram shopper requires a different approach to that of someone shopping on a brand’s homepage, for example. What should remain consistent however, is easy access to product ranges and swift, reliable payment facilitation.

Dress to impress: product listings

When shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift, few can resist the charms of Amazon. Unless a consumer knows the exact gift, from the exact retailer and at the exact price, they are likely to commence their search via Amazon, a one-stop-shop for anything and everything you might need. The consumer experience is comprised of micro-moments and peppered with interruptions, as shoppers search for product details, delivery options, reviews, store locations and pricing information, including frequent flirtations with search engines like Google along the way.

For many consumers, a purchase is a love-at-first-sight decision, and as such, retailers should greet potential customers on SERPs with the product they are looking for, through image-based PLAs. The visual format and positioning can capture consumers, showcase products and – hopefully – whisk them away from another purchase, driving traffic and sales to your own platform. To make PLAs stand out, focus on drafting descriptive titles and product descriptions with relevant keywords. Base these on the words and phrases used most frequently by consumers shopping for Valentine’s Day, and ensure that the most important information is included in the first 25 characters of a title.

Spread the love through multiple sales channels

There’s nothing worse for a consumer than finding that perfect Valentine’s Day gift on a retailer’s website, only to find it is out of stock. Inventory must therefore be managed effectively, especially during times of peak demand. Out of stock items play a significant role in cart abandonment and can damage customer relations, especially during time-sensitive periods when consumers are not able to wait for products to come back in stock.

List products across multiple sales channels, as this will help secure sales and increase brand visibility during a Valentine’s themed marketing campaign. A retailer should have a comprehensive view of stock levels across online and bricks-and-mortar outlets, in order to replace out-of-stock items quickly, as well as keeping an eye on those best-sellers and adjusting order levels accordingly.

Mobile dating…And shopping

Dating apps mean that love has moved to mobile, and online shopping is no different. Shoppers will spend an estimated £27 billion using mobile devices in 2017, an increase of 26% from £21.51 billion in 2016. Whether browsing or buying via these devices, mobile should anchor any retailer’s digital campaign. Optimising your campaign for mobile is a great way to stand out from the crowd in the run up to Valentines, and to ensure that product lines are easily shoppable across devices.

Google announced at the end of last year that it is dividing its search index into two: one index for mobile and another for desktop. The mobile index is now prioritised over the desktop version and updated more frequently in order to provide a better search experience for users. Where Google goes, others must devotedly follow, which means retailers must take a mobile-first approach. Quick page loads, in-app purchases, messaging services; features such as these can all boost a retailer’s mobile offering, which should be seen as central, rather than an add-on, to an omnichannel strategy.

Promoting products effectively over multiple channels and devices and ensuring a smooth, enjoyable customer experience are vital in attracting potential buyers in the run up to February 14th. Whether you love it or hate it as a consumer, as a retailer there’s every reason to be smitten with Valentine’s Day, and if you find yourself behind, then be sure to plan ahead for the next shopping peak!

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Author: Mike Shapaker
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