Mobile the key to shoppers' hearts this Valentine's Day

As the first major selling holiday of the year approaches, retailers are getting their mobile initiatives in gear to take full advantage of Valentine's Day.

On the heels of a big holiday season for mobile, many retailers have recognized that shoppers won't be buying on smartphones and tablets so much as doing research before they make a purchase. In fact, the National Retail Federation predicts that nearly a quarter of shoppers plan to research products or compare prices using a smartphone for the heart-filled holiday as webrooming replaces showrooming.

"Mobile fills an immediate need for shoppers, and retailers with great apps should expect an increase in mobile purchases. Capitalizing on user intent to purchase, especially on this important day, is a great way for retailers to drive revenue and cultivate loyal customers," Adam Marchick, CEO of Kahuna, told FierceRetail.

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is using that behavior to its advantage by sending out push notifications to drive users to its app. Once the app has been opened, users can easily browse gifts by recipient, as well as categories like jewelry, beauty, technology and intimates.  

Walmart acted fast, too, sending out its first Valentine's notifications the day after its last big promotional push—the Super Bowl, another mobile-dominated event.

Of course, not every significant other thinks that far ahead, and Instacart's partnership with Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) is designed for those who might need some last minute bailing out. The grocery delivery company already has a good relationship with Whole Foods, but this week the two are teaming up to deliver bouquets, chocolates, cheeses, lotions and other romantic items in 15 cities through Feb. 15. Instacart's usual fees still apply for two- and one-hour delivery, but for many that could prove a small price to pay to avoid a loved one's wrath.

Instacart is also hoping that limited time services like this could help it pick up new customers who maybe haven't tried their delivery service yet.

"What better time than now to offer customers a way to spend more time with loved ones, and less time running errands. Inexpensive delivery rates and Whole Foods Market's higher quality flowers also mean customers are getting far more value for their Valentine's dollar," said founder Apoorva Mehta in a statement.

This year should also provide retailers with plenty of opportunity to cash in on what is generally a pretty minor holiday. An NRF survey found that 91 percent of people plan to do something special for their significant other, and with Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday for the first time since 2009 consumers will be celebrating their love for the entire weekend.

For more:
-See this NRF report
-See this Mobile Commerce Daily story
-See this Whole Foods press release

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