Valentine’s Day and beyond: How to capitalise on 2024’s shopping peaks

valentine's day

As 2024 kicks into gear, retailers have already hit the ground running as they prepare for the big shopping peaks that are quickly approaching, starting with Valentine’s Day. Last year, the National Retail Foundation predicted Valentine’s Day would be a $26 billion dollar holiday. The data showed consumers plan to give traditional gifts with candy (57%), greeting cards (40%), and flowers (37%) topping the list. But no matter what retailers are offering, the biggest gains from holiday spending peaks will be seen by the brands that keep people coming back to buy again and again. In other words, retailers who put the customer first and prioritise personalisation will keep brand loyalty alive all year round.  

Matters of the heart: a rolling thunder approach to seasonal events 

Consumer spending increased 3.1% year over year this past holiday season (November 1 to December 24, 2023) according to a recent report by Mastercard. This consumer confidence and spending could be expected to carry over into other seasonal holidays as well. Recently, I shared insights from our holiday shopping report based on a survey that Coveo conducted in partnership with RSR Research, which revealed 58% of retailers strongly believe that holiday events are still a powerful source of revenue. 

While Black Friday and Cyber Week offers make up a large piece of the annual marketing pie, the opportunity to keep and grow those customer relationships should be viewed through a year-round lens where a customer’s single holiday purchase can easily turn into long-term customer loyalty when relevant personalised experiences are delivered.

Visibility into the customer journey is changing

Increasingly, retailers are finding that they can’t rely solely on historical data, especially if the customer does not set up an account and log in. Using real-time in-session behavioural data, machine learning and AI, retailers can deliver an experience that makes every customer feel special with personalised, relevant recommendations, results, and refinements – even for first-time visitors or guest shoppers. Our research highlights that personalised results are more accurate than generic ones by nearly 30%. But what happens after that first or even second purchase? Is the customer relationship evolving and are future encounters free of friction? High-performing retailers see the growth potential associated with ongoing support. Personalisation isn’t just for the beginning of the journey, it is integral throughout the entire purchase and post-purchase lifecycle. Taking all of these tactics into consideration can lead to results in the form of higher conversion rates, above-average ticket size, and a boost in website traffic.

The role of AI – bringing spontaneity and affection 

The real opportunity for retailers now is to think beyond the traditional roles of seasonal holidays, taking the time to understand current trends and customer needs. For the upcoming Valentine’s Day in particular, consumers are purchasing gifts for more than just romantic partners, seeking experiences and not just “stuff” according to the National Retail Foundation

Tools such as GenAI can help retailers understand what products or services customers are looking for in new ways. Retailers can use GenAI to match consumer search criteria with large amounts of information held in product guides, how-tos, and other rich content, and pair that with a simple conversational interaction with customers, at scale. Despite all the hype, GenAI does hold great promise across these three areas of the customer journey:

  • Empowerment: Easily serving customers with product features, purchase options, and help in choosing the right item.
  • Imagination: Offering shoppers new ideas that align with their interests at every stage of their journey, such as travel, food inspiration or home decor ideas.
  • Self-Service: Post-purchase customers can take advantage of online service chatbots and FAQ pages. Our joint research with RSR has shown that 42% of surveyed retailers are aggressively pushing customers toward these tools to help manage support call volume. 

There are many ways for retailers to get the most out of the year’s holidays and shopping peaks, and the segments between these peaks, as they continue to improve upon and grow customer relationship programs. By taking advantage of tools that provide value to retailers and customers alike, retailers can realise goals associated with improved product discovery, conversions, channel adoption and more.