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The Number-One Ecommerce Market You Aren't Targeting

ecommerce market

The ecommerce market in the U.S. is growing rapidly. Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) American adults buy things online at least once a month, according to Mintel’s Online Shopping US 2015 report, and one-third buy something online every week. But is your business missing out on the number-one ecommerce market in the U.S.—the one demographic group that buys more products online than any other?

I’ll give you a hint: The number-one ecommerce market answers to “Mom” or “Dad.” Yes, parents buy more online than any other demographic group, Mintel’s data reports. What’s more, the more children they have, the more likely they are to shop online and the more often they do so.

Here’s the breakdown: Just 23 percent of online shoppers who don’t have children 18 or younger in the home shop online every week. However, 40 percent of parents with one child at home, 56 percent of parents with two children and two-thirds of parents with three or more children shop online at least weekly.

Parents spend more online, too. Households without children spend an average of $78 per online purchase, compared to $123 per purchase for those with one child and $177 per purchase for those with three or more kids.

What’s behind the numbers—and how can you reach this profitable ecommerce market?

Convenience. Parents like shopping online because they can get things they need without leaving the house. (If you’ve ever wrestled three fussy kids into a mini-van for a Target run, you’ll understand.) No need to plan shopping around nap time or school pickup—parents can shop whenever they want without even getting dressed.

Solution: Boost the convenience factor even more by enabling shoppers to save purchases in a cart for later, create a wish list or shopping list, and serving up recommendations for similar products. You can also enable customers to set up auto shipping or automatic reordering for products that need replenishing. All of this streamlines the shopping experience.

Infrequent purchases. Online shopping for things that need constant replacement, like food and personal care items, has gained some traction, but it’s nowhere near the numbers of the top online shopping categories: clothing/accessories (which 62 percent of consumers buy online), electronics (54 percent) and games, toys and school supplies (37 percent). For whatever reasons, items that aren’t needed immediately seem to be more popular as online purchases.

Solution: Encourage repeat buying by sending customers seasonal reminders based on past purchases, along with promotional offers. For example, if a parent bought clothes for back-to-school on your site last August, send her a reminder and a deal in late July.

Lack of time. Parents of young children have little time to spare, especially if they’re also working full-time jobs. The more kids, the less time is free for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

Solution: Grab parents during downtime. Busy parents are likely to check their email and social media during small moments of downtime—like while waiting for school pickup around 3:00—or at night after the kids are in bed. Try timing your marketing emails and social media posts targeting parents for these times, and track how it affects sales.


Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash