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Five tips for converting the last-minute Father’s Day shopper

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Last year, almost half of consumers shopping online for the winter holidays finished in the last two weeks of December. With Father’s Day just days away, my guess is that this may not be so different, and that any number of shoppers are still grappling with what to buy for the father figures in their lives. My crystal ball sees last-minute shopping starting in earnest – right about now.

As we saw in the recently released 2013 Planning Guide: Spring and Summer, close to one-third of consumers shopping for Father’s Day this year will make at least some of those purchases online. This annual consumer survey conducted by BIGinsight for NRF also revealed that online Father’s Day shoppers are lucrative customers for retailers, planning to spend a combined average of $173 (44 percent more than all Father’s Day shoppers) on books, media, clothing, consumer electronics, gift cards and more for dad.

In these final days leading up to Sunday, retailers should seize the opportunity to target last minute shoppers in a variety of ways.

1. Court the smartphone shopper. Online Father’s Day shoppers will buy not only online, but also in department stores (38 percent), specialty stores (30 percent), and discount stores (26 percent), among other venues. Additionally, well over half of online Father’s Day shoppers who own a smartphone plan to use it to help them make purchase decisions.

As Google recently found, a good four out of five smartphone shoppers overall said they use the device to help them shop while in a store: 80 percent used their smartphone while buying clothing, 87 percent while buying electronics and 97 percent while buying appliances. “Frequent” smartphone shoppers spend on average more in-store than other smartphone shoppers. Retailers need to make the time that smartphone shoppers spend in the store worthwhile – think about what the smartphone can provide the customer to enhance the store visit, from store maps and in-stock availability to additional product information via QR codes on signage and hangtags.

2. Market “click and collect.” For retailers who have a “buy-online, pick-up in-store” service in place, market this service on your home page, in emails and via search. For stressed last-minute shoppers, this service could be a saving grace this weekend and make the conversion difference.

3. Use the time squeeze to your advantage in remarketing campaigns. In its research, SeeWhy discovered that 72 percent of consumers who didn’t buy initially but ultimately did buy did so within 12 hours of their initial visit. While it's tempting to quickly cobble together a blanket email campaign, SeeWhy cautions retailers instead to employ timing, tone and personalization to send the right message (and definitely within 12 hours). SeeWhy also suggests that retailers examine products that have a high abandonment rate to see if those product detail pages would be more productive if adjusted to direct the consumer to the store instead.

4. Make it easy to find and buy gift cards. Obvious, perhaps, but with fully half of online Father’s Day shoppers expecting to buy at least one gift card, retailers should make absolutely sure gift cards are easy to find and purchase via any digital touch point (desktop, smartphone or tablet). This means not only prominent visibility on the home page and in cross-marketing deeper within the site, but also in confirmation emails/receipts, in dedicated emails and opt-in text message campaigns. If available, make sure gift card delivery options such as print-at-home and posting to social media (e.g. Facebook wall) are well marketed also.

5. Be prepared for follow-on sales on Father’s Day. More than one-third of online Father’s Day shoppers this year plan to buy consumer electronics or computer-related accessories. With lots of new devices such as e-readers, tablets, game consoles and more going live this Sunday, gift recipients may head online quickly to buy digital content such as e-books, music, apps, games and the like. In 2011, comScore found digital content and subscriptions on December 25 accounted for more than 20 percent of online retail sales that day, compared with a daily average of 2.8 percent between November 1 and December 26 that year. comScore surmised that this spike had a lot to do with gift recipients “loading up their devices with new content.” Retailers should consider updating their home pages on Father's Day and/or tailoring an email campaign with suggestions to complement likely Father’s Day gifts – digital content to be sure, but also other complementary items such as cookbooks for dads who received cooking gadgets or a grill, or accessories and books for recipients of sporting goods or tools – many of which can be paid for using some of those newly activated gift cards.

To learn more, download the full Father’s Day online consumer shopping outlook results on the site.