It’s a tough time of year for most e-commerce businesses. Nationwide, January and February tend to be the slowest months for retailers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most consumers are nursing their holiday-shopping credit-card hangovers, or bracing for tax season, or perhaps spending lots of income on basic commodities like heating and electricity.
But tucked halfway into February is a nice little respite that more and more e-commerce retailers are embracing. It’s Valentine’s Day. And it comes at the time of year when most e-commerce retailers really need some love for their business.
A holiday kiss for e-commerce
How big is Valentine's Day for retailers? You might be surprised.
Most analysts place it among the top 5 holidays for retail spending. An analysis by CNBC placed it at no. 3, behind Christmas and Thanksgiving. Last year, consumers spent almost $20 billion on Valentine's Day. That’s a lot of candy and flowers!
But Valentine's Day is no longer just about sweets, shiny things and roses. Its popularity has helped to migrate sales into other retail areas that aren’t the traditional Valentine's Day gifts. Electronics, clothing, fashion accessories, and even power tools have wedged their way into the gift line-up.
And Valentine's Day is no longer just about buying a present (or presents) for significant others. Family members and dear friends are also on the list of people to whom one may gift.
There’s probably room for your e-commerce business to work its way into the evolving mix of Valentine's Day gift-ables. It may come down to simply coming up with a creative marketing plan.
Marketing Valentine's Day
Some e-commerce retailers have gotten pretty good at marketing their non-traditional Valentine's Day wares. They tone their messaging and website content to fit the themes of the holiday — love and thoughtfulness. They craft creative suggestions for gifts, and enrich them with Valentine's-related images. They make a convincing argument that money spent on the short-lived flower and calorie-rich candy is better spent on a lasting and useful gift.
Look around at e-commerce websites and you’ll see that retailers have gotten quite creative with their Valentine's Day gift suggestions. If you can make a chainsaw sound like a warm and fuzzy Valentine's gift, then the sky’s the limit.
Cupid is sweet, but doesn’t deliver
In many ways, Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday for e-commerce businesses. It’s an impulse buy holiday, one with which a well-designed e-commerce website can hit a bullseye.
But it can also be a nightmare holiday for e-commerce businesses, especially when it comes to customer demands for shipping. Who wants their loved one’s gift showing up on Feb. 15? If the poll reporting that 53% of women would pull the plug on a relationship if they don’t get a Valentines Day gift is true, then there’s a lot riding on having a reliable last-mile delivery system in place.
I’m not so sure I believe that Valentine's Day poll. But just to be sure, e-commerce businesses would be wise to give their customers the many options that they seek for fulfilling the delivery of e-commerce goods. One of those options is having a pick-up center or convenience lockers where customers can get the items they purchased with no hassles and on their own schedule.
And, in this case, that means in time for cupid’s arrow to hit home.