What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

As a mother myself, I can tell you that I pull out all the stops when it comes to spending money on my kids, regardless of how tough the times may be. So the back-to-school market in particular can take on even greater value during down times like these.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

Abandonment Issues

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Another finding: The average value of goods in abandoned shopping carts in the U.S. is $109.

High shipping costs, security concerns and lack of convenience were cited as the main reasons survey respondents abandoned their carts.

Although high shipping costs was cited as the No. 1 reason for cart abandonment, 40 percent of respondents said if they’d known shipping costs up front they might have completed their purchases.

Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents abandoned their carts because they wanted to comparison shop. Another 36 percent didn’t have enough money after shipping and handling charges were added to totals. Twenty-seven percent of respondents who abandoned their carts did so to search for coupons, although a third of those shoppers later returned to the same site to buy. An additional 20 percent purchased the items at brick-and-mortar stores or competitors’ Web sites.

Other reasons shoppers abandon their carts include the following:

  • 26 percent wanted to shop offline;
  • 24 percent couldn’t find preferred pay options;
  • 23 percent said the item was unavailable at checkout;
  • 22 percent couldn’t find customer support; and
  • 21 percent were concerned about the security of credit card data.

While this information may not solve your abandoned shopping cart problems, maybe it will give you some ideas as to how to improve them. If you make customer service easy to find on your site, for example, your abandonment rates may go down.

This is an excellent topic for an open dialogue. Have any of you seen improved shopping cart abandonment rates based on a strategy or technique you’ve implemented? If so, let us know by leaving a comment here. We’d love to hear from you!