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Key dates and tips to target the online Mother's Day shopper in 2012

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Your Rating’s parent, NRF, announced last week that consumers are expected to spend a full $18.6 billion to celebrate the mothers in their lives on May 13. The survey of 8,724 consumers conducted this month by BIGinsight showed also that online shoppers will contribute a fair bit to that total. In all, 1 in 4 Mother’s Day shoppers will buy at least some portion of their gifts online this year, up from 1 in 5 in 2010 and 2011. Below are a few key trends that stand out with this year's online Mother's Day shopper.

Online consumers expect to spend 53% more on Mom than all shoppers across categories. Of consumers who plan to shop online for some part of their Mother’s Day shopping, almost one-third (31.7%) expect to spend more this year than last – that’s compared with about half that number for all adults 18 years and older. In all, online Mother’s Day shoppers expect to spend a combined net average of $233.67 – or 53% more than the average for all adults.

Which products will catch the eye of the online consumer in emails, search, online ads and in social media? 4 out of 5 will spend close to $9 on greeting cards, three-quarters will spend an average of $32 on flowers, and 3 out of 5 will splurge on a special outing such as dinner or brunch, at an average of $56.75. That said, online Mother’s Day shoppers also have their eye on bigger ticket items such as consumer electronics, jewelry, gift cards, clothing and accessories, and books and CDs. For example, an impressive 44.5% of online Mother’s Day shoppers expect to spend an average of $116 on jewelry alone. As a retailer, have you updated your Pinterest presence to showcase your best products in these must-buy categories?

Online shoppers will research and buy across channels... This inclination to treat Mom is evident also in where online shoppers plan to buy their gifts – while one quarter will buy something in a discount store, that’s actually less than all adults 18 and older (30.2%). Instead, expect online Mother’s Day shoppers to not only buy online, but also to head to department and specialty stores. About twice as many online shoppers (15.7%) as all adults (8.2%) expect to shop in specialty stores.

…with smartphones and tablet devices firmly in hand to locate, research and buy. Among online Mother’s Day shoppers who own a smartphone, 2 out of 5 will use their smartphone to research products and compare prices, almost one third will look up retailer information (e.g. location, store hours, etc.), and one quarter will actually buy via their smartphone. Not surprisingly, online Mother’s Day shoppers who own a tablet device will use the tablet to even greater degree: over half will research products and compare prices on their tablet, close to a third will look up retailer information, and one quarter will redeem coupons. Close to half expect to use their tablet device to actually buy – and why not, with all that rich imagery and content to entice shoppers to hit the “complete purchase” button.

Online retailers should milk the week leading up to Mother's Day.Google notes that MasterCard SpendingPulse last year (2011) found that online sales hit their crescendo the Tuesday before the big day (this year, that's May 8), while in-store shopping peaked the day before Mother's Day (i.e. that Saturday).  Retailers should harness email, search, site and social marketing to tout online shopping in the 5 to 8 days before Mother's Day, then switch to messages about buy online, pick up in store service and/or in store specials, events and associates' gift picking expertise.

Utilize cart remarketing to get consumers to commit - even if not on the first round. With cart abandonment rates continuing to rise, I would point retailers again to some highlights of the recent webinar on shopping cart abandonment and cart remarketing. Per SeeWhy’s research, one quarter of one percent (you read that right) will complete their purchase in their first visit to your site. Instead, focus on visitors who put something in their cart as hot leads who are unlikely to buy during that first visit, but are likely to buy – somewhere – within the next 12 hours. Timing (think 2, 4 or at most 6 hours after the cart is abandoned), tone, and personalization (greeting the customer by name, naming the product(s) in the cart, etc.) are the keys to effective cart remarketing . Considering how few retailers do much of anything to remarket carts in the first place (also per SeeWhy), you have every chance of capturing that sale – and cementing further your relationship with that customer for the long term.