Online Mother’s Day Sales Shatter Predictions

A healthy economy and increasing consumer confidence in online shopping combined to push Mother’s Day sales to $190 million (US$), according to BizRate.com, an online collective of Internet retailers.

This year’s total is more than twice the $80 million that analysts had projected, and obliterates last year’s mark of $14 million. Consumers placed 2.9 million orders this year, up from last year’s 250,000.

Customers were evenly split between male and female buyers — a significant development, since it reinforces the belief that female Web shoppers are now almost equal in number to males buying on the Net. Last year, 61 percent of online Mother’s Day shoppers were men.

Also significant is the fact that the Mother’s Day shopping period saw 67 percent of buyers making their first purchases from particular online merchants. Since 92 percent of purchases were made by experienced Web buyers, this figure indicates that e-tailers are still able to woo unique visitors, and that even experienced Web buyers are not yet committed to specific merchants.

Average Sale Equals Valentine’s Day

The average online sale this year was $66, almost exactly the same amount spent on Valentine’s Day ($65). In a survey conducted by the Yahoo! network in the weeks prior to Mother’s Day, only one in four respondents said they planned to spend more than $50 online.

Yahoo! reported that orders on Yahoo! Shopping during the Mother’s Day shopping period increased 195 percent, compared to the shopping volume during the same period in 1999.

Yahoo! offered guided shopping assistance through its “Gift Recommender,” which included suggestions for 11 different “types” of moms. Based on the number of purchases recorded, the top three categories were “Serious About Pampering,” “Grandma Knows Best,” and “Green Thumb.”

Flowers Still Rule

Predictably, Web sites selling flowers were among the heaviest traffic areas on the Web, with 1800flowers.com emerging as the clear leader. The site recorded almost 400,000 unique visitors during the first week of May. On Thursday, May 11th, three days before the holiday, almost 250,000 visitors flocked to flower sites.

In the greeting card arena, Blue Mountain emerged as the winner, increasing its unique visitors from 489,067 on May 7th to 2,012,696 on Mother’s Day. American Greetings came in a distant second.

Jewelry sites also experienced heavy use, with an increase of 150 percent over the three weeks between mid-April and Mother’s Day. According to BizRate, 29 percent of online gift buyers purchased flowers, followed by e-greeting cards (17 percent) and entertainment products at 13 percent.

Fulfillment Improved

After a number of high profile sites failed to follow through on fulfillment during last year’s winter holidays, there was a great deal of emphasis on maintaining adequate inventories and delivering orders on time for Mother’s Day.

Keynote, a provider of Internet performance measurement, evaluated 12 major chocolate, flower and greeting card sites during high traffic Mother’s Day shopping days and found overall the sites performed well.

One exception was FTD.com, with a 67 percent rating on fulfillment, which translates to two out of three on-time deliveries. All of the other sites earned a 100 percent fulfillment rating.

According to Gene Shklar, vice-president of public services at Keynote, “The performance and fulfillment results for Mother’s Day show a marked improvement.”

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