February 14th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

Well it’s Valentine’s Day, and if you still haven’t gotten something special for that someone special in your life, you don’t need me to tell you that time is running out.

Need some last-minute gifting ideas? Well, luckily IBM today released new data from its Digital Analytics Benchmark, capturing online shopping trends during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day (Feb. 7 – Feb. 13). Hopefully this will give you an idea of how and where your peers spent their money.

okCupid1According to IBM’s report, overall online shopping rose 8 percent during the week before Valentine’s Day this year compared to the same period in 2013.  Growth was particularly strong in gifts (up 20 percent), apparel (up 17 percent) and health and beauty (up 15 percent). Spending in department stores  was up 34 percent compared to last year.

Mobile sales also remained strong, at 17.2 percent of all  online sales, up 42.9 percent over 2013. Tablet users  averaged $135.26 per order, versus smartphone users, who averaged $114.00 per order. On average, iOS users spent $132.28 per order  versus Android users who spent $110.54 per order. Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $125.24 per order, versus Pinterest referrals,which drove $147.74 per order.  However, Facebook referrals converted sales at 3.5 times the rate of Pinterest referrals, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations.

So where did all that money go? For department stores, total online sales grew 34 percent compared to 2013, with mobile sales growing 45 percent year over year.

For items referred to simply as “gifts,” total online sales grew 19.9 percent compared to 2013, with mobile sales growing 44.5 percent year over year.  Total online sales of clothing grew 17 percent versus 2013, with mobile sales growing 41.4 percent year over year. Total online sales of health and beauty items grew 15 percent versus 2013, with mobile sales growing 67.6 percent year over year.

Flowers are always a popular choice, and it’s still not too late to place that last-minute order when all else has failed. But between the mass of consumers calling in similar orders and waiting on hold to ensure their deliveries will arrive today, the holiday can quickly lead to anger and frustration.

To combat that, customer care provider Sitel this week partnered with a leading floral delivery company to put the human touch back into the Valentine’s Day ordering process. The company deployed 100 of its Sitel Work@Home Solutions agents to personally handle calls and provide outstanding customer experiences. To take the customer experience a step further, Sitel also introduced the H2H (Human 2 Human) approach, connecting high brand affinity customers with passionate, like-minded agents to ensure a smoother and more intimate customer interaction.

Now that’s something that really deserves a hug.

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