Photo in Creative Commons by Liz West
Photo in Creative Commons by Liz West

It’s Valentine’s Day and retailers will do well. Immediately following Christmas decorations, hot pink and purple lined the aisle ways at your local grocer, heart blinking necklaces (totally wearing these today, by the way – thanks Mom!) were hanging by the checkout and don’t forget Spongebob heart-shaped candy everywhere the mobile-strained eye can see. Holidays like Valentines Day are big for retailers and– according to the NRF– Americans will spend over $800M on gifts for their PETS alone this Valentine’s Day!

Not many years ago, most lovers ventured to a store or a nearby florist to find the perfect gift for their loved one. Times have changed with eCommerce and I wonder in 2012, how many online transactions include flowers, candy, or worse, jewelry! A new survey completed by Continuum looked at data from 1,000+ consumers in the US and found the top 10 reasons for shopping in both store and online.  The results were surprising. The top reasons respondents said they shopped in stores were not price, but convenience (40%). Shopping local perhaps?  Followed by not trusting the quality online (22%), not wanting to pay for shipping or returns (17%), better prices (17%) and lastly personal interaction (4%). I bet the personal interaction number is higher than the admitted 4%, especially on Valentine’s Day.  The top reasons respondents said they shopped online were similar. Convenience rated number one again (43%), ease of finding products came in second at 29%, better prices was third at 25% and avoiding interaction with employees was fourth at 3%.

In a recent in-store experience, I walked in and asked a person to point me towards what I was looking for.  Once I found the right aisle (or product category), I looked for what I wanted specifically – or the equivalent of a product page online.  In this case, the similarities of a personal in-store sales agent performed just like good on-site search or product recommendations might act on an e-commerce site. The goal for the retailer is the same  – make sure I stay engaged, find what I need, and convert to purchase.  If they don’t do a good job, then I’ll bounce next door. They need to make me love them, regardless of whether I shop on line or in-store.  Who says love is blind?