Make a Valentine’s Day Match With Connected Commerce

Feb 01, 2010 9:16 PM  By

Every segment of the retail industry has peaks and valleys in its sales forecast: It’s a normal lifecycle that’s driven by the nature of the products being sold.

For example, with Valentine’s Day nearly here, the floral industry is ramping up for one of its biggest seasons. According to the Society of American Florists, nearly one-third of all adults bought flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine’s Day 2009.

Think of it this way: one out of every three people that walks into your store, flips through the pages of your catalog or visits your Website already has plans to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day.

Such insight into customer intent is a rare commodity that presents a huge retail opportunity. Traditional thinking would suggest only seasonal products, such as flowers and chocolates, can benefit from exogenous spikes in demand.

On the contrary, any product line can benefit from seasonality through “connected commerce,” the marketing of third-party products, alongside yours, in your storefront.

Merchants big and small can boost sales for nonseasonal products, and Valentine’s Day is a great example. Take the average e-commerce Website. Nearly one out of every three of its visitors will eventually end up buying flowers as a gift on another site.

Knowing this, the Website can simply feature a “Buy Flowers” button on its site to start selling this in-demand product. When clicked, this button invokes a storefront from a third-party flower vendor to complete the transaction.

The originating e-commerce site is then compensated for the sale. The e-commerce site can pocket the bounty, pass some savings on to their shoppers in the form of product discounts or, in the case of digital products, offer its product for free. These last two categories create a strong incentive that’s hard for shoppers to ignore.

The customer’s perception is that he or she is getting a free or heavily discounted product from the e-commerce site. But in reality the site still turns a profit by receiving a referral fee from the florist—which is actually a great deal for the florist too.

Here’s why: In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, nationally recognized floral companies spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising, and they forecast how much they’ll spend to acquire every customer. In partnerships like the one described above, they only pay when they make a sale. This is a sure bet.

In the end, everyone benefits. The e-commerce site drives more sales, the florist wisely spends its marketing dollars while securing a customer that could have easily gone to a competitor, and the consumer gets a free or heavily discounted product.

The important thing to remember here is that Valentine’s Day is just one example. There are 365 other days in the year—some holidays, some just regular days—and each of them present the opportunity to drive sales by leveraging seasonal products.

Applying some creative thinking, forging new partnerships, or working with someone that can help you create those partnerships can go a long way in strengthening sales all year round.

Daniel Greenberg (
Daniel@trialpay.com) is the chief marketing officer of
TrialPay, an online payment provider that specializes in promotions such as purchase incentives, coupons, cross-selling and bundling.