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Consumer Trends

The outlook for online shopping for Mother's Day

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Given the very late Easter this year, it was a bit of a surprise to realize that Mother’s Day is practically here already. I am happy to report that online shoppers will once again be treating the moms in their lives for this special day. members now can download the online-retail specific results of the BIGresearch survey conducted for NRF in early April.

Online retailers have reason to smile: almost a third of online shoppers plan to spend more this year for Mother’s Day than last year (compared with half that number for all Mother’s Day shoppers). Indeed, online shoppers expect to spend a combined net average of $219.40 (up 10 percent from last year), versus $140.73 across all shoppers.

Close to half of online shoppers plan to buy their moms some jewelry, spending a net average of $44.20 on this category, versus $26.22 for all shoppers. Consumer electronics, flowers, special outings such as brunch or dinner, and spa services, among other categories, are also favorites again this year. Online shoppers prove themselves again to be multichannel shoppers: over one third will shop also in department stores and in specialty stores, while a quarter expect to pop into a discount store.

So – with just a scant week to make hay for this prime gift giving occasion, I went back to some of the lessons learned from another prime gift giving occasion: the 2010 eHoliday Study, also conducted by BIGresearch. If you consider that you’ll need to put together your 2011 holiday season plan in the next few months, perhaps Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can serve as test runs for some new ideas. Herewith a few nuggets from the 2010 eHoliday findings:

  • Free shipping – Consumers want it, but the bottom line generally suffers. Why not test offering discounted shipping (remember the shoes I bought last fall from Bluefly with a $2.95 flat shipping charge?), and/or swapping out free shipping on returns in lieu of free outbound shipping (as we saw in the 2010 pre-holiday results, 3 out of 10 women said they would like to receive free returns shipping offers).
  • Customer product reviews – Clearly now a staple of online retail sites, two out of five consumers noted that they referenced reviews when making holiday purchases online, more than any other site feature. The key for reviews at this point: “right place, right time” throughout the site as well as one's marketing and social media channels.
  • Later purchases – While consumers expect to spend more this year than last for Mother’s Day, I’m guessing that they’ll still be shopping carefully and may wait to click “submit order” in the (vain?) hopes of last-minute discounts. Determine your ability to offer discounted express shipping, and make sure your print at home / electronic gift card options are in excellent working order and well marketed across your home page, email, and social media outlets.
  • Marketing – Email and search are still an online marketer’s best friends: retailers cited email to one’s house list and SEO as the most cost-effective marketing vehicles for Holiday 2010. That said, two out of five noted paid listings (SEM) gained the most customers who ultimately bought from their site, well ahead of both SEO and email.  And while still very small compared to means such as merchant emails and search, more consumers than in years past noted that they are learning about retailers via Facebook and blogs.
  • Mobile – I simply can't do this topic justice in one or two sentences.  Instead, I recommend revisiting the November 2010 Webinar, “The Obstacles and Enablers of Mobile Commerce”, featuring speakers from Forrester Research and Steve Madden, for a terrific overview of mobile / multichannel best practices.