Cupid, cookies and e-commerce


How online shopping helps to set hearts fluttering for Valentine's Day

At this time of year every year, the hearts of men and women the world over beat a little faster.

Whilst many are preoccupied by the thought of expressing affection for their partners, the increase in business associated with Valentine's Day means that it's only natural for those involved with helping couples mark the occasion to also experience a rush of adrenalin.

Declarations of love

In classical Roman mythology, declarations of love were often delivered from the bow of Cupid (or, in ancient Greece, his counterpart, Eros).

The advent of online shopping has meant that such a responsibility falls instead to couriers with another dramatic transformation in the 'how' and 'when' of romance too.

32% rise in Valentine related online shopping

For instance, a survey by Mastercard highlighted a 32 per cent rise in Valentine-related online shopping in the UK between 2016 and 2018 alone.

It underlines the experience of anyone taking even a short trip down their high street: Valentine's Day is big business.

In the United States, in fact, it accounts for sales totalling some £13.9 billion ($18 billion) - a larger sum generated by St Patrick's Day, Hallowe'en and the Super Bowl weekend combined.

Just under one-third of that amount (£4.1 billion or $5.4 billion) now stems from online transactions.

The anniversary is also responsible for significant business in the UK - just over £1.1 billion in 2018 ($1.4 billion).

Further research spelled out that increasing confidence in the delivery of online purchases is shaping when orders are placed.

Saying I love you with flowers

There's a rise in those opting to say 'I love you' with flowers as Valentine's Day nears with the sale of blooms nine times greater than the normal level in the US and seven times higher in the UK on the 12th of February.

Technology is also playing a part, with late shoppers more reliant on mobile e-commerce platforms, which account for roughly half of all romance-themed orders in the last few days before Valentine's Day.

It seems that these purchases are certainly not pointless gestures. After all, 53 per cent of women who took part in one US study insisted that they would end a relationship if they didn't receive a gift on the 14th of February.

The fear of forgetting is one possible explanation for a rise in average online order values in both Europe and North America the day before.

Valentine’s geographic differences

Valentine's Day, it should be remembered, is not solely a major event for romantics and retailers in the West, even though there are geographic differences in how it is marked.

In Japan, it's women who make up the majority of gift-givers on the day. In South Korea too, the roles are reversed on what's known as 'White Day' on the 14th of March - another key diary date for e-commerce brands.

Meanwhile, in China, August brings another important date for couples. The festival of Qi Xi, in the seventh month of that country's lunar calendar, sees a further spike in orders, particularly of fruit and speciality foodstuffs.

Not forgetting our furry friends

Even though it's been written that the world loves lovers, we should remember that e-commerce has also shaped the 14th of February for those who either aren't in a relationship or who choose to remember their furry significant others.

According to Business Insider, some nine million Americans spent $700 million (£500 million) on Valentine's presents for their pets. Research by the US National Retail Federation also noted that half of all those who took part in a 2017 survey planned to show themselves some love.