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The online Valentine survival guide for retail marketers

The online Valentine survival guide for retail marketers

By Charlie Lawhorn is the VP of business development at Stibo Systems.

We know that the Christmas season is the most important time of the year for retailers, but who knew that e-commerce had a romantic side?

Valentine’s Day is the day to tell that special someone how much you care – so it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the biggest shopping periods of the year.

In fact, studies show that Brits splash out up to £1.6 billion on Valentines Day gifts for loved ones, with an average spend per gift of £71.25. Those in a relationship spend as much as £69.90.

Additionally, one in five UK consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day will use the web for some part of their shopping. These stats make it clear – in the world of e-commerce, maybe love really does conquer all.

Busy spring for PIM

This is just the beginning of a peak period for many retailers. Valentine’s Day is followed next month by Mothering Sunday, and a few weeks later it’s Easter.

To cope with prolonged demand for certain goods, retailers will need to know exactly what they’ve got in stock before they start marketing – there’s no point executing an elaborate cross-channel marketing campaign if the stock levels aren’t right, as inaccurate product information can cause confusion.

With so much at stake, product information management takes on an important role for organisations selling across multiple channels. In order to manage multi-channel sales strategies, coordinate special promotions and accurately manage product inventories, retailers must ensure that their data and product information are being managed the right way.

I work with customers day in and day out to ensure that their data management strategies are aligned to meet both business needs, and the rapidly changing market needs. I see evidence of the importance of effective data and product information management, especially during busy shopping periods.

Multiple multi-channel

Until recently, retailers have had to deal with managing product information across three core channels – web, in-store and printed catalogues, but this year more retailers than ever are looking to social media for marketing around significant dates. A quick Twitter search on ‘Valentine’s Day’ reveals a host of businesses offering special deals and last minute ideas for the big day.

It’s great for marketers to have so many new channels on offer, but with this increase in opportunities comes an increase in the complex task of keeping product data consistent across the board.

There’s no point Tweeting a link to a product on your website if that same product is available at a lower price in store or via a catalogue.
Many will remember the 10p television offered in error by an online retailer, which had to be sold at that price – one small product information management error cost thousands of pounds in just a few hours.

Feeling the love for product data

Those retail marketers about to embark on the busy springtime period would do well to remember the basics. It’s only by making sure that product information, images, and offers are accurate that marketers have a clear idea of what they’re promoting and how they can best market it.

Shopping habits are changing, and browsing online before purchasing in store, or looking at goods on the High Street before going home to buy them online is now standard practice for many consumers.

Marketing a product at one price online and another in a store will only cause confusion, and can only be resolved by getting product information correct. Only then will retailers be able to sit back and enjoy a happy Valentine’s Day themselves.


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