It’s the first day of February, and many retailers are well into their Valentine’s Day e-mail campaigns. They are hoping the returns on those campaigns will be sweet, and some research suggests they will at least be sweeter than last year. Total revenue from Valentine’s Day sales in the U. S. this year is forecast to rise 3.2% to $20.81 billion from $20.17 billion in 2012, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.
E-retailers can expect a fair chunk of that revenue pie, trade group the National Retail Federation reports. In a recent poll of 5,815 consumers conducted by the group, 26.3% of say they will make their Valentine’s purchases online this year, up from 19.3% in 2012 and the most in the federation’s 10-year history of conducting this survey.
Ice.com Inc. began sending daily e-mails about Valentine’s gifts and discount offers a week ago, which is one week earlier than it began its Valentine's campaign last year, says Valeriya Makarov, senior director of marketing at Ice.com.
“We’re definitely getting sales already, but what we saw last year is that consumers wait longer,” Makarov says. “So we started [sending e-mails] earlier because we’d like to be on the top of their minds when the time to spend their money comes.”
Valentine’s Day is typically Ice.com’s second-largest sales period after the December holidays, she says. The retailer will continue to promote the holiday with special offers until Feb. 12, the last day for orders to arrive by Feb. 14, she says. E-retailer Jewelry Television, meanwhile, will take orders through Feb. 13 for delivery on Valentine’s Day, charging a flat next-day shipping fee of $19.99.
Such other jewelry retailers as Blue Nile Inc. and Ross Simons Inc. sought to attract Valentine’s Day gift givers by sending e-mails with discounts in their subject lines. Blue Nile chose “Introducing Our Valentine's Day Gift Guide + 10% Off Jewelry” while Ross-Simons Inc.’s subject line read “Save on Gifts for Your Valentine | 25% Off Sitewide”
Ice.com is No. 270 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Blue Nile, No. 71; Ross-Simons, No. 184, and Jewelry Television, No. 167.
Flowers, another Valentine’s gift staple, also blossomed in many retailers’ e-mail promotions this week. Subject lines for those retailers included:
• Organic Bouquet: “Save 25% On Valentine's Day Gifts Now!,” “Order Valentine's Day Roses With Free Vase And Chocolates!”
• ProFlowers: “Looking for the Perfect Valentine's Day Gift? Extra 15% inside,” “REMINDER: Prices increase for Valentine's Day in 2 days!”
• 1-800-Flowers.com Inc.: “Ends Tonight - Save 20% Sitewide,” “Save Over 40%! Dozen Red Roses + Free Premium Vase”
• FTD Group Inc.: “Valentine’s Day Preview,” “Save $15 sitewide; shop now, deliver later”
ProFlowers is a subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corp., No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; 1-800-Flowers.com, No. 51, and FTD Group, No.78.
Members-only retailer Wantful took a different approach, dissing flowers in its e-mail campaigns, sending a message reading, “Flowers again? Give something unexpected this Valentine’s Day.” The e-mail offered such gift suggestions as scarves, blankets and bags.
Other retailers promoting their wearable wares in Valentine’s e-mails this week included:
• Victoria’s Secret, offering “Everything Valentine's Day + free glam wristlet. Online only”
• Piperlime, promoting its “Valentine’s Day edition: girls’ guide to guy buys”
• American Apparel Inc., offering a free gift with purchases
• ideeli Inc., promoting “flirty Valentine’s dresses”
• StyleLately, an apparel and accessories seller focusing on jewelry in its messages
• J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which included a link to Valentine’s Day shipping cutoff dates
• New York & Co. Inc., directing shoppers to its online Valentine’s shop
• Amazon.com Inc., suggesting “Knock-Out Picks for Valentine’s Day”
• RueLaLa.com, with the subject line, “Get all the gifts for your Valentine. XOXO”
• Delia’s Inc., offering buy-one-get-one pants, an “early Valentine’s gift with love from us to you,” and
• Urban Outfitters Inc., offering free shipping on orders of more than $50 and a sheet of Valentine’s-themed stickers with every purchase. It also linked to an online Valentine’s shop.
Victoria’s Secret Direct, a unit of Limited Brands, is No. 19 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Piperlime is a unit of Gap Inc. Direct, No. 22; American Apparel, No. 287; ideeli, No. 172; J.C. Penney, No. 20; New York & Co., No. 261; Amazon, No. 1; RueLaLa, No. 84; Delia’s, No. 198, and Urban Outfitters, No. 48.
Daily-deal operators Groupon Inc. and Amazon Local also sent multiple Valentine’s e-mails throughout the week promoting items from flowers to vacuums and spa services.
Chocolate seller Ghirardelli sent e-mails with Valentine’s offers that included free shipping and the address of the store nearest to a recipient for consumers who wait until the last minute to get gifts. Harry and David Holdings Inc. also offered free shipping for shoppers. OldTimeCandy.com sent customers a 10% off coupon code and highlighted in the message a special promotion to personalize candy box tops with a Valentine’s theme plus a gift recipient’s name.
In one of the more unusual Valentine’s Day e-mails, Shari’s Berries ran a subject line featuring the name of a person for whom a registered customer had previously purchased a gift. For example, one subject line said, “Give … and Take Christine’s Breath Away,” with 43% off a half-dozen chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Harry and David is No. 108 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and Shari’s Berries is a subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corp., No. 7.
Retailers selling less traditional Valentine’s items also sent customers some extra love this week. BarnesandNoble.com Inc., No. 32, for example, offered 15% off any single item in an e-mail this week, touting the deal as “Sweet Valentine’s Savings.” And both Overstock.com Inc., No. 27, and United Airlines sent e-mails imploring customers to book holiday getaways via their web sites. While Overstock primarily sells excess and out-of-season goods at a discount, its site includes a travel page featuring offers from Priceline Partner Network and VacationRoost Inc.