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The price of love: Preparing your e-commerce store for Valentine's Day

The price of love: Preparing your e-commerce store for Valentine's Day
11 January 2021

Most commonly thought to originate in the year 270 AD, Valentine's Day has a rich history that spans centuries, continents and cultures. Celebrated globally every 14th February, this romantic festival has evolved into one of the most lucrative shopping seasons, with sales of more than $20 billion in the US last year alone.

Whilst flower and chocolate sales still account for a large chunk of Valentine's spend, romantics are increasingly diversifying their gift selections. Interestingly for e-commerce store owners, more than 45% of consumers now buy their Valentine presents online, and this trend is set to keep rising.

Here we'll explore the Valentine's Day phenomena in more detail and highlight some key trends, as well as gifts you can't afford to exclude from your online shop!

Early Valentine's Day

Whilst there is still some uncertainty, the most popular candidate for St Valentine himself was a 3rd century Roman priest who performed secret marriages against orders from Emperor Claudius II. Legend has it that Valentine sent a friend a note signed "From Your Valentine" before he was executed.

Early Valentine cards were made by hand; using coloured paper, watercolours and coloured inks. Popular styles included pinprick Valentine's Day cards — patterns made by pricking tiny holes in paper — cutouts and acrostic poems, with verses in which the first letters of the lines spelled out the recipient's name.

Some of the oldest handmade Valentine's Day cards were painted rebuses, a type of riddle whereby words are indicated by pictures — for instance, a picture of an eye and a heart would represent "I love".

Over the centuries many new traditions have been introduced, and more countries around the world started to embrace the celebrations. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers around the world to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in technology.

Today's Valentine's shopping trends

  • Whilst you might expect flower sales to monopolise spend, in fact floral gifts accounted for only 10% Valentine's Day purchasing last year, with romantics increasingly switching to jewellery, consumables and more unique personal gifts.
  • Internet browsing for Valentine's Day gifts has been starting earlier every year. In 2020 Google has picked up the first searches from Boxing Day! In terms of final purchasing, last year almost 50% of Valentine's Day shoppers planned on buying their gifts for loved ones during the first 2 weeks of February.
  • Overall spend on Valentine's gifts continues to rise. Between 2018 and 2019, the average amount consumers planned to spend on Valentine's Day increased by 21%.
  • People aren't just gifting to significant others anymore. Spending on pets is increasing dramatically, with $886 million dollars being spent in the states last year alone! Globally, it's estimated that 3% of pet owners give their pets a gift on this date.
  • Consumers are also more likely to buy gifts for friends or other family members than ever before, with more than 14% of spend now accounted for by friendship gestures. In Finland, the festival is in fact called "Friends Day" for this reason.
  • The top 'big spenders' on Valentine's Day are the US, with more than 135 million consumers planning to buy a gift this year. Consumers in the UK are love-struck as well, with an incremental increase of 11% in spending from 2015 to present day.
  • There is also a growing trend for celebrating an 'anti-Valentine's Day' particularly in younger demographics (20–35 year olds).

Must-have products

For any print on demand provider, there are some core staples that simply have to be featured if you want to capitalise on Valentine's Day purchasing power.

1. Cards

It will no doubt come as no surprise that Valentine's Day is the second most popular day for sending cards globally (after Christmas of course!). It's estimated that a billion cards are sent every year around the world on the 14th February.

Because of the sentimental nature of Valentine's Day, consumers are not averse to investing in good quality, higher value cards, so fine art greeting cards are a must.

Fine art greetings cards from Prodigi

2. Photo gifts

More and more consumers are opting for bespoke gifts with a personal touch. Popular Valentine's Day photo gifts range from photo tiles to personalised photo books capturing memories with custom messaging.

3. Pet beds

Capitalising on the increasing pet gifting market, a new pet bed with a 'love my pet' vibe would be a great addition to any Valentine's Day browsing experience.

Pet beds on demand from Prodigi

4. Apparel

Last year, 17% of shoppers gifted clothing for Valentine's Day. Apparel — particularly custom t-shirts — are ever-popular gifts if the messaging is right for the audience.

In the case of Valentine's Day, there are a plethora of opportunities to target different romantic niches. Apparel is also a good offering for those wanting to promote anti-Valentine's sentiments in a humorous way.

Print on demand apparel for Valentine's

5. Wrapping paper

Finally what better way for your customers to wrap their Valentine's Day gifts than with some custom paper? You can even go the extra mile and match some of your wrapping paper designs with custom Valentine's cards.

For more ideas on Valentine's Day gifting and catalogue options, browse our extensive range of print on demand products.