If you thought the Valentine phenomenon was losing its lustre, think again. Thanks in part to the growing penetration of the internet into everyday South African life, Valentine 2008 was as popular as ever.
“Our web site was handling up to four orders per minute at our busiest time during Valentine’s Week,” says Sue Morris, marketing director of NetFlorist.
Significantly for NetFlorist, which last year upgraded its technology and bandwidth to be able to process more online volume, it experienced very few usability issues this year, indicating that its customers are becoming more accustomed to and comfortable with online purchasing for special events such as Valentine, Mothers’ Day and the like.
According to Morris, NetFlorist’s sales over the Valentine period – which are now stretched over a week rather than a single day – were around 30% higher than in 2007 despite the company doing less advertising than a year ago.
While, like other retailers, it has seen a slowdown in sales growth due to negative influences such as higher interest rates and the National Credit Act, NetFlorist is satisfied with its current growth which comes off an extremely high base of around 45% during the previous year.
Commenting on the best-selling Valentine gifts, Morris says this year was a bit different. “For the first time it was not the classic 12 red roses in cellophane – it was a modern arrangement of 12 clustered roses in a tall pottery vase,” she explaines.
In addition, there were many more women purchasing for their loved ones and this drove an increase in the non-floral gifting business: “The best selling non-floral ranges were our Russ bear hampers and Swarovski jewellery.”