Valentine’s Day Draws Big Crowds Online

Gartner Group predicted that rising prices, along with more consumers buying online would help push total North American sales (offline and online) for all goods and services for Valentine’s Day 2001 to $2 billion, a 25 percent increase over last year’s revenue of $1.5 billion.

One key reason for the increase in spending this year is higher prices. From flower vendors to premium food vendors, prices have risen over the last 12 months. A larger, more mature online market is another reason. Gartner estimates that the online market has increased by more than 16 million users in North America from 2000 to 2001. More experienced Internet users also purchase in greater amounts than first-year users. Valentine’s retailers have also added gourmet foods, spirits and gifts to the traditional revenue producing goods such as chocolate and flowers.

Keynote, which measured the performance and availability of 17 major chocolate, flower, fine gift, and greeting-card Web sites from Feb. 6 through Valentine’s Day, and also measured the ability of the chocolate and flower sites to deliver online orders by February 14, found that sites had trouble keeping up with the traffic this year. Keynote also measured order fulfillment, with 93 percent of all chocolate and flower orders placed by Keynote delivered by Valentine’s Day.

The availability of popular greeting-card sites on Feb. 14 ranged from a one-day average of 38.4 percent for recipients trying to view their cards on egreetings.com (compared to 64.1 percent last year), to 94.9 percent on americangreetings.com (compared to 43.4 percent last year). The performance of some popular chocolate, flower and fine gift sites degraded during the week preceding the holiday as visitors placed their orders. Ice.com averaged 14.16 seconds for the eight days from Feb. 6 to 13, Proflowers.com averaged 30.18 seconds (its slowest day was Feb. 7, averaging 48.09 seconds), Tiffany.com averaged 12.10 seconds, and Sees.com averaged 9.22 seconds during the measured period.

Some sites performed noticeably well through the Valentine’s Day rush, according to Keynote, including Victoriassecret.com (averaging 1.19 seconds with 99.4 percent availability), FTD.com (1.68 second average with 99.9 percent availability), and 1800flowers.com (averaging 2.01 seconds with 99.4 percent availability).

Performance results were mixed compared to 2000. Proflowers.com averaged 7.45 seconds last year in the week prior to the holiday; Sees.com averaged 1.95 seconds last year; Chocoholic.com averaged 16.55 seconds last year, compared to 2.94 seconds this year. Feb. 13 was the slowest day leading up to Valentine’s Day, with an average for all sites of 10.30 seconds, followed by Feb. 7, at 8.01 seconds.

According to PC Data Online, 1800flowers.com was the top online florist in terms of traffic for the holiday, peaking at 256,000 on Feb. 12. In the greeting card category, bluemountain.com, americangreetings.com, and egreetings.com all experienced significant traffic spikes the week of Valentine’s Day, with traffic peaking on Feb. 14. Non-traditional greeting card sites such as passionup.com and sendafriend.com also benefited from the Valentine’s Day boost.


Traffic to Card and Flower Sites
Feb. 7 to Feb. 14, 2001
Site Daily Unique Visitors
2/7 2/8 2/9 2/10 2/11 2/12 2/13 2/14
bluemountain.com 1,121 1,176 1,067 982 1,382 1,726 3,064 5,321
americangreetings.com 969 839 1,120 1,029 1,303 1,231 2,004 3,061
egreetings.com 227 295 315 399 334 218 667 1,430
hallmark.com 107 150 288 158 236 324 507 701
passionup.com 201 254 217 142 168 214 292 414
blab.com 77 99 82 87 126 93 140 247
sharedgreetings.com 110 73 127 119 112 149 225 132
1800flowers.com 120 136 113 234 167 256 233 124
Proflowers.com 249 160 70 65 57 131 60 69
Source: PC Data Online

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