If you’re a parent, you’re probably thinking ahead to the holiday shopping season. If you’re an online retailer, this is a big season for your business. As you prepare to manage the hordes of parents who will descend on your site, here are some stats to keep in mind about today’s parents, their spending habits, and what they expect from your site.
Profiling Today’s Parents: Millennials + Gen Xers
Millennials now outnumber baby boomers (75.4 million vs. 74.9 million). As more and more millennials are starting to have children — combined with all us Gen X late bloomers — we’re experiencing a minor baby boom that will have a huge ripple affect on holiday spending.
With this shift in the parenting demographic comes new expectations in terms of shopping habits. Millennials are more likely to shop online, initiate or complete transactions on their phones, and use social media as part of their research. They’re also very sensitive to price and perception of value, and they’re much, much less likely to be loyal to a brand if that brand doesn’t consistently deliver excellent service and value.
How Much Will Families Spend in 2016?
Let's take a look at some statistics from the recently completed back-to-school season to provide a forecast for the upcoming holiday season:
- Total spending for the 2016 back-to-school season is expected to be over $75 billion, a 10 percent increase over last year's $68 billion.
- Online spending will account for 35 percent of total back-to-school shopping. Of the $75 billion that families will spend on back to school, more than a third — $27 billion — will be spent online.
- The average family will spend $674 on back-to-school shopping, with clothing and electronics accounting for 65 percent of their total spending.
Where Will Families Shop?
Again, let's take a look back at some back-to-school statistics to provide us a preview of the busy fourth quarter:
- Almost half of all parents shopped online. Forty-six percent of consumers planned to do some of their back-to-school shopping online. There's no reason to expect that number to decrease this coming holiday season. In fact, there's a good chance it will rise.
- The average family bought from three websites.
- Sixty-two percent of online shoppers planned to visit mega e-tailers this back-to-school season, 35 percent intended to visit office supply retailers and 18 percent said they would shop at apparel retailers.
- Free shipping is a must for most parents. Eighty-four percent refuse to pay for shipping. However, men are more likely (22 percent) to pay for expedited shipping than women (11 percent).
How Much Does Web Performance Matter?
Consider the following as you prepare your website for the increased traffic this coming holiday season:
- Smartphones dominated back-to-school browsing. Looking at aggregated real user data for 12 IR200 retailers during the 2015 back-to-school shopping season, we found that 65 percent of back-to-school retail web traffic came from smartphones, while 25 percent came from desktop and 10 percent came from tablets.
- Despite what some retailers think, mobile shoppers do convert. Looking at the same data set cited above, peak conversion rate for smartphone users was 2.2 percent, a 450 percent improvement over the peak conversion rate of 0.4 percent we found for the same set of sites in 2014.
- Credit card security is the top concern of parents when deciding where to shop online. Performance issues, including slow load times and pages that crash mid-transaction, rank close behind.
- Faster page load times correlate to higher conversion rates for both smartphone and desktop users. What's the ideal performance “sweet spot?" Our 2015 study found it was two seconds across all device types.
The current mini baby boom presents huge opportunities for retailers, particularly during critical shopping seasons such as back to school and the holidays. However, retailers need to be sensitive to the changing demographic of today’s parents and what these parents expect from their online shopping experiences. Parents today expect online shopping experiences to be:
- mobile friendly;
- fast; and
- filled with quality products at competitive prices (and free shipping).
Parents today are less brand loyal and more fickle than previous generations. Fail to meet any of these expectations, and you may not see these shoppers again.
Tammy Everts is the senior researcher and evangelist at SOASTA, a load testing and performance monitoring solutions provider.
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