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7 tips to plan for Valentine’s Day gift orders

Christmas is such a major sales period for many online retailers that it can make you overlook Valentine’s Day, which falls barely six weeks later.

Here are seven tips to get you started.

1. Work out your product offering for Valentine’s Day

Look over last year’s Valentine’s Day products and see what sold best. Check your customer emails around that time — were there any requests for different models, brands, sizes, colors, prices, or delivery methods?

Do you have any gaps in suitable Valentine’s Day product offerings? Is it still in stock? Have you got a newer, smaller, shinier version?

If you sell any items marketed as birthday gifts, you may be able to sell them as Valentine’s Day gifts too. Buying your partner the pair of pretty shoes she’s wanted, or giving him a new GPS can be romantic even if it’s not the traditional Valentine’s Day gift of chocolate, flowers, lingerie, jewelry, perfume, a meal out, or a weekend away.

2. Create your email marketing schedule

Clap your hands and celebrate. Valentine’s Day 2014 falls on a Friday, which means you can market and ship your orders as late as Wednesday the 12th or Thursday the 13th, unlike in 2012 when it fell on a Tuesday, which effectively brought Valentine’s Day online orders to a halt from Friday, February 10.

  • Mid-January – send your first email offer
  • Late January – send a reminder
  • Early February – add urgency for free shipping offers
  • February 12 – last day for shipping
  • February 14 – e-gift certificates

3. Get your creative created

Consider your target markets. An inexpensive (under $30) range of gifts is ideal for the newly dating, while married couples may spend more on each other. A group picture may work better for teens that “hang out and hook up” rather than date; same-sex, long-distance or May-December romance images may capture other customers’ attention. Retro images might be fun for Baby Boomers. A shot with grandparents and grandkids might do the trick. Are any of your products suitable for children? American customers commonly buy Valentine’s Day products for their children but Australian and British customers do not, viewing it strictly as an adults’ special occasion.

4. Careful wording can help extend your market

Not everyone is heterosexual. Not everyone is married. And not everyone is in a relationship. Use the word “partner” even if you have your customers segmented by gender. Consider that many people can be depressed about being single at Valentine’s Day and encourage people to treat themselves or someone special. Many could be celebrating their anniversary or wedding then as so many people get married on Valentine’s Day, and of course, February 14 will be a birthday for some of your customers.

5. Win new customers, grow your database

Many customers are paying off the holiday expenses from mid-January so they can be short on cash. Have you got products or services with a healthy margin? This can be a fantastic time to sell relevant Valentine’s Day products on group buying websites such as Groupon during January. You could attract new customers and help to grow your database for 2014. Make sure, however, that your products arrive in time or are available for use on Valentine’s Day and don’t make it the worst-ever group-buying deal that I endured in 2012.

6. Offer something extra with your packaging

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday, many customers will be at work. Can you arrange for a courier to deliver your packages with helium balloons and ribbons in your city? Imagine the envious looks on other people’s faces at your customer’s workplace when they see the courier arrive with a Valentine’s Day package with balloons. They’ll all want to know where it’s from. If you sell your products through a drop shipper, consider offering free gift-wrapping, upgrading to free courier delivery, or providing a small gift-with-purchase offer for Valentine’s Day to help your products stand out.

7. Run a Valentine’s Day gift survey to help you and your customers

Many men fall in one of three categories when it comes to Valentine Day: they forget to buy a gift and/or rush around at the last minute, they buy what they want to give their partner (usually lingerie), or they keep purchasing the same product or service (such as booking last year’s romantic restaurant) — which is boring for the recipient. If you’ve ever run a survey on what your customers like to receive and give for Valentine’s Day, run some snippets from it in your newsletter, or run a new one in your first email to your customers. Include a Valentine’s Day gift-giving preferences infographic with your second email promotion to give them some hints. Infographics are also excellent for search engine optimization and social media traction.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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