From The Editor | February 10, 2012

Handling The Valentine's Day Rush

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By Erin Harris, associate editor

Money can't buy you love, but according to NRF's recent report, consumers are certainly going to give it a shot this Valentine's Day. Indeed, according to NRF's 2012 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGinsight, the average person celebrating the holiday will shell out $126.03, up 8.5% over last year's $116.21 and the highest in the survey's 10-year history. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion — that's a lot of heart shape boxed candy. Since tomorrow is the big day, retailers everywhere are keeping a watchful eye on their in-stock positions as last minute shoppers clamor to purchase cards, flowers, jewelry, and more for their loved ones. Use the outcomes of this Valentine's Day holiday to prepare for the other upcoming holidays — Mother's Day, Father's Day, back-to-school — even the 2012 Holiday shopping season.

No matter how well you fare this Valentine's Day, there's always room for improvement. Several retailers feel that the customer experience is something they particularly want to improve this year, from "end-to-end customer experience" to the overall multichannel shopping experience. With regard to a mobile site, ensure the most important aspects of your e-commerce website have been optimized for mobile (i.e. store locator, product pages, etc). One quarter of smartphone owners expect to research products and compare products on their phone, and about one in ten figures they'll purchase products and redeem coupons.

With many retailers still in a "wait-and-see" mode regarding a mobile strategy or even analytics, the time is now to begin either of both strategies. As we talk to our readers, we continue to uncover that your customers don't consider you or shop you as one channel, but rather as a brand. As this and all the other holidays approach, test your website and all of your connected systems for peak volumes, and lock down your infrastructure at least three weeks before the peak hits. Consider an intense amount of regression testing and closed loop feedback with your customers, which is considered and addressed as enhancements before the lock down.

Let tomorrow's sales data, traffic, and trends set the stage for how you handle the remainder of this year's holidays.

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