How to get your store ready for Valentine's Day

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It's a new year filled with growth opportunities and beautiful holidays that allow retailers to create a stronger bond with customers, both in their physical stores and online, devise exciting marketing campaigns and increase sales.

The first and most important holiday retailers must prepare for is, of course, Valentine's Day!

Here is a brief history of Valentine's Day and how it came to be such an important commercial holiday.

The History of Valentine's Day in Under Three... de FastCompany

It's all about showing your customers a bit of love. Making sure that you are vigorously prepared for Valentine's Day will most certainly result in increased sales and a fruitful relationship with your customers.

Why is Valentine's Day so important to retail?

As retailers you should know that Valentine's Day is the biggest spending holiday after the winter shopping season. The Business 2 Community writer Madeline Boehmer discusses Spending Statistics for this holiday in 2015. An impressive $18.9 billion dollars were expected to be invested into this single day, according to a survey conducted by Prosper Insight & Analytics and the National Retail Federation.

The main items that customers buy for this specific holiday are: Flowers, Candy, Cards, Jewelry followed closely by Apparel, Restaurants, Spas and beauty treatments and speciality gifts.

According to a Valentine's Day Spending Predictions article on Forbes by Barbara Thau, the most surprising fact about this holiday is that Millennials have become the predominant group when it comes to the sum of money invested in gifts. "The largest spending age group is predicted to be 25 to 34 year olds, who will shell out approximately $213.04 on the holiday. By contrast, 35 to 44 year olds will spend about $176.21. This is somewhat surprising, as many Millennials have yet to come into their most fertile years of earning power, yet they plan to spend more than their older counterparts."

Pets don't seem to lack love for Valentine's, so consumers will spend an incredible amount of money so that their furry friends will be happy and look stylish for the holiday. Collars, leashes, treats, toys, costumes, pet pampering and gift boxes are the main items people spend close to $700 million on. Impressive, isn’t it?

Store and Window Display Design

Window Displays

The window of the store is by far the most important advertising space any retailer has at hand. We can't stress out the importance of a good window that acts both as a business card and invitation inside the store.

The theme of the window is clear. Love! is the answer, it's just a matter of vision and craft. How you expose your merchandise is completely up to you, but keep in mind that the more creative and well thought it is, the more chances you'll have of customers going inside.

The preparations for creating the window should start at the beginning of January to ensure that it is up and running by February 1st.

It is important that the window and the store do not create a mental disconnect. The transition from the outside to the inside has to be seamless, thus meaning that your store will require decorating as well.

Store Design

Make it clear for customers to see that you mean business and that you decorate your store accordingly.

Note that the colors used for this holiday are all the different shades of red, pink and variations such as coral, salmon and peach, purple (mostly lavender or pastel), white, orange, yellow and sometimes blue. It is important to stick to these colors because they are the most representative for Valentine's Day and its meaning.

You can hang up hearts and cupids, showcase items on colored display stands, creating highly appealing color contrasts. You can spruce up your mannequins by painting them in various colors or decorating them with stickers, patches and so on.

Put some fresh or potted flowers throughout the store. Stick some cheerful cards on the walls. Hide some cute statuettes between merchandise. There are a lot of interesting and original ideas you can use to pleasantly surprise your customers.

These decorations serve the purpose of reminding customers and getting them in the mood of shopping for the upcoming holiday.

As in the case of window displays it's up to you, because you know your store best, as well as the space and resources you have to work with.

Sales & Promotions

It should be crystal clear by now that a marketing strategy must exist for V Day so you don't lose out on the possibility of big sales. Needless to say that promotions should be pushed from January.

Any kind of sale, discount, promotion and so on you may offer for Valentine's, must reach your customers. Either advertise it in the windows of the store, through social media, email marketing (See a strategic infographic here), mobile apps and whatever other channel you dispose of. This of course depends fully on your target audience and how you portray your brand.

Or you can reach out to make a combined campaign with a partner company(or something related to your domain) like Starbucks did in 2015 with the online dating website Match. They created an interesting blend, based on serious research and it worked! More details on the subject in Lauren Johnson's article on Ad Week.

The most important idea that you have to keep in mind is that shopper experience is a big issues. The customer will do business with you if he / she gets a valuable experience in return. So try focusing on that in your physical store.

So what else can you do in this sense?

Well, think about what are your customers main needs for this holiday? Since it's all about giving gifts to loved ones, why not throw in free gift wrapping, offer a chocolate heart, a small chocolate box, or even a Valentine's Day card with purchases.

You can also create your own gift boxes / baskets in which you can include relevant or appreciated products for a good price, or you can even let your customers make their own from a selection of products. A pretty bow and something sweet can go a long way.

Outreach & Campaigns

Your website must be prepared for this holiday and this article on Preparing your Magento Store for Valentine's Day might just help you in this sense. The key factors you have to consider are:

  • Visible promotions homepage
  • Limited time offers
  • Decorated product pages with themed elements
  • Offer gift wrapping or even include a card with purchases

Some other advice we can offer revolves around online promotions. For instance the Rapid Campaign Blog discusses some specific tactics you can use, like "Early (Love) Bird Viral coupon promotions" that means "offering discounts for purchases and further discounts for sharing the promotion with friends". Be sure to read up on their other ideas for the "7 days of Valentine's".

Stock Management, Employees & Other

Stock Management

If you are in one of the businesses that is highly targeted for Valentine's you must know how important it is to stock up on your customer's favorite items, new collections or the items that have been and are highly relevant.

Try to reorganize as to ensure that all products that are relevant for V Day are in the same place or area of the store and showcased properly. Customers won't have to wonder around your store aimlessly searching for these items, fact that they will appreciate and has a higher chance of translating into a purchase.

Employees

Instruct your employees to dress in the colors of the holiday. It's best that they don't create a mental disconnect, such as the one we talked about above, with the window display and store interior.

Advise them to restock the shelves often and to try to interact with customers in a pleasant manner.

Dr. Gary Edwards in an article for Retail Customer Experience explains that you should "have your staff interact with customers to help them seek the perfect gift for their partner by getting to know the likes and dislikes of the gift recipient and making product recommendations. Remember that many customers may just be coming in for that special Valentine's gift for their sweetheart — but they have the potential to become customers for the long term."

Shipping

Ensure that your shipping partners are not still caught up with post winter season deliveries because this might affect shipments for Valentine's.

Have a meeting with them and discuss all aspects to make sure that your customers will receive their gifts in time, or if you have a franchise try to ship directly from your stores. You can also create a buy online + store pickup deal. You should offer as many options possible to ensure that you reach all kinds of shoppers.

A Lovely Ending

We hope this will help you make solid preparations for Valentine's Day. If you take our advice and the expert advice provided in this article you will most likely have a very successful holiday.

If you lack inspiration for Valentine's Day window displays you can check out our inspiration hub to see some amazing designs.

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  • George Blitzer
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