Don't lose that holiday spirit: It's Valentine's Day

heart in hands concept
Sales associates need to keep up the holiday cheer for Valentine's Day shoppers.

Valentine's Day is a great time to get online shoppers who don't often visit physical stores into brick-and-mortar shops. FierceRetail spoke with Lisa van Kesteren, CEO at SeeLevel HX, about how retailers can increase revenue and customer experience this Valentine's shopping season.

FierceRetail (FR): What will be different for this year's Valentine's Day shopper?

Lisa van Kesteren (LVK): We suspect that Valentine’s Day will be more focused on experiential events over actual products. The product side of the business will still be front and center, especially as the holiday is more of a one-to-one gift giving occasion, but we see retailers looking to offer in-store experiences to drive traffic.

Think makeovers, flower arranging, how-to for simple looks, etc. What is also different about Valentine’s Day this year is that it started in December 2017 when the first in-store sets went up. Retailers will look to get as much bang for their marketing buck as they can from the holiday.

FR: What will retailers be doing differently to please shoppers?

LVK: Retailers will be looking to ensure that shoppers are able to get in and out efficiently. From a product perspective, retailers will be looking to please shoppers by offering unique products where possible.

There may well be limited edition products, monogramming—special options that are not normally offered. Retailers will be doing whatever they can to ensure they stick out to shoppers and are able to create as close to a viral buzz about their offering as they can.

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FR: Will a majority of Valentine's Day shoppers be spending in store or online?

LVK: We suspect that Valentine’s Day shopping will still be predominantly an in-store experience. Consumers are procrastinators and while Prime may get the gift to the intended destination on time, any chance of making the gift “special” or customized is lost with procrastination. Last-minute shopping should be to the brick and mortar retailer's benefit—power aisles and impulse cash wrap items all assuage last-minute shopping guilt.

FR: How can retailers try and drive skittish male shoppers into physical stores?

LVK: Retailers should let all shoppers know that their staff is there to listen, ask smart and sensible questions as their goal is to have that consumer leave with an ideal gift. Male shoppers should be assured that while they don’t need to know the difference between one item over another, the sales staff is there to guide them in a judgment-free way. This same rationale applies to women—this should be the year that women venture into new territories and ask questions so as to also deliver as thoughtful of a gift as they can.

FR: Once in store, what can retailers do to up-sell this Valentine's Day?

LVK: Retailers should not be looking at an up-sell this Valentine’s Day. They should be looking to build a relationship with every consumer who interacts with their brand. A short-term up-sell is not going to drive traffic when it comes to the next gift-giving occasions such as birthdays, bar mitzvahs, graduations, etc. Rather, this is the opportunity for retailers to demonstrate to consumers that when they have no idea for a special gift, they should turn to their local retail store.

FR: What else can you tell me about this historical shopping day?

LVK: Traditionally, customer experience levels start falling off once the year-end holiday period is over. This shopping day is a great opportunity to remind consumers of the fun of shopping. We encourage retailers to make the event of gift purchasing even more fun than the actual receipt or giving of the gift.