Three Ways Online Shopping Can Save Your Summer
The midpoint of summer 2016 is rapidly approaching. Does it seems that the summer break is flying past without hoped-for quality family connection? If so, consider using online shopping as a tool to free up more time for what matters. Here are my top three tips.

1.Use mobile commerce to multi-task

School is out for the summer but there is  rarely a true “summer break” for parents. Appointments, lessons, and sports events for kids often continue through the holiday. For parents that means plenty of time spent driving, then waiting. At orthodontist offices. In ball field parking lots. Outside the local ballet academy. In the summer camp pick-up car queue. The list seems endless. Driving kids–and then waiting for them–can become a time-consuming chore.

We suggest using mobile commerce to multi-task. Turn the waiting game into an exercise in efficient productivity. The goal is to use wait time for daily tasks. This frees up time for family connection later in the day. With a little creativity, a surprising amount of “on location” shopping can be accomplished via mobile devices.

Back-to-school shopping on your smartphone or tablet

To save time this summer, use mobile devices to get a head start on back-to-school shopping for clothes and classroom supplies. I aim to have all of my back-to-school clothes shopping completed by the end of July.  About 90% of this shopping is accomplished online, from a mobile device, while waiting for my son at various locations. With that stressful chore out of the way well before the end of summer, I can relax and spend some quality time with him during the week before school starts. Fighting my way through underbrush looking for a Geocache with my son sure beats fighting the end-of-summer shopping crowds.

Hone online holiday shopping skills

Consider using “waiting” time to get a jump on holiday shopping before the busy holiday season. More shoppers than ever are utilizing mobile devices for their holiday purchases. A recent ComSource report* states that “mobile outpaced desktop every day during the 2015 [holiday shopping] season”. So get familiar with mobile shopping now for maximum efficiency later.

Promote equal opportunity M-commerce

Some may be surprised to learn who takes the lead in mobile shopping. Recent research indicates that men may use mobile devices for shopping more frequently than women.Yet women typically control between 70 and 85% of the family budget. And since women may also transport kids to and from summer activities more frequently than men, women could be missing an important opportunity this summer to save time through mobile commerce.

How to select a mobile-friendly online retailer

Choose online retailers with websites that are optimized for mobile devices. What does that look like? The website will be as inviting and easy to navigate from your phone or tablet as from your desktop. Most shopping activities can be executed just as easily and efficiently from a mobile device as from a desktop. An extra bonus–you can shop anywhere, anytime.

2.Rethink outdated online shopping assumptions

Most people are comfortable shopping online for items that do not need to be replaced frequently, such as toys, video games, and computer equipment. There is another category of products–Consumer Packaged Goods(CPG)–that are items such as food, beverages and cleaning products. They are typically used daily and need to be replaced often.

Consumers have historically been hesitant to purchase these types of goods online. A recent ComSource report* noted that while the CPG category represents 1.3 trillion dollars annually, digital commerce accounts for only 2% of that total. What does this mean? A a lot of opportunity in this area for online retailers. It also means that if consumers want more online CPG shopping options they should use the options that do exist. Demand drives supply. So go ahead–be demanding.

Online shopping for groceries is an under-utilized timesaver

Shopping online for groceries can offer many benefits. It can save shoppers a significant amount of time. According to the Time Use Institute, “The average shopping trip takes 41 minutes. If you multiply that by the 1.5-trip per week average, that’s over 53 hours per year you’re spending in the grocery store.” This figure does not include travel time to or from the grocery store, nor does it include time required to shuttle kids from the car to the store and vice-versa. If even half of family grocery trips include children, I’d estimate from my own experience that the 53-hours-per-year figure could easily double to 106 hours. That’s the equivalent of 2.5 40-hour work weeks. If online CPG shopping reduces that number by even 25% (and I believe that it can) then an additional 26.5 hours can be made available for other activities.

No fighting, no biting

Another benefit of shopping for groceries online is that impulse purchases are less likely. And  shopping via phone or tablet from the relative peace of the orthodontist’s waiting room can eliminate environmental frustrations. No fighting traffic, no fighting cranky children in the store, and no drama in the child-centric temptation minefield otherwise known as the display area surrounding grocery store registers.

Some consumers don’t like the idea of paying a delivery fee for groceries. However, a delivery surcharge associated with online grocery shopping (often in the neighborhood of five dollars) seems a real bargain when other costs such as fuel and impulse purchases are factored in.

3.Invest in online learning opportunities for kids

During the summer break, it can be tempting to relax digital time standards for kids. If parents aren’t careful, kids may play video games or surf YouTube under the radar for hours. And while some digital entertainment is a good thing, consider replacing some of that “empty” digital time with online learning for kids that will add real value to their lives.

Look for a flexible, subscription-based service that presents learning in a fun way to help kids keep their skills sharp. Even better, give kids the opportunity to learn a new skill. One website we particularly like is Spel Technologies. We were so impressed with SPEL’s goals and offering that we partnered with them to provide their e-commerce solution.

This forward-thinking company offers Merscythe; a subscription-based learning platform that utilizes a story/gaming model to help kids learn to code. Not only is it fun, but it is also one of the first fully accessible learning platforms. It supports the needs of learners with visual impairments and other disabilities, such as autism. This makes a valuable skill fun and accessible to all. And reclaims some of that digital zombie time and repurposes it to truly benefit kids.

In conclusion

Seize the (summer) day in 2016. Utilize the online shopping tips detailed above to free up many hours of time for family fun and making memories. Then share your experiences with is in the comments section of this blog. We’d love to hear about your adventures!

* Comsource State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q1 2016 Report

DATE: Jul 13, 2016
AUTHOR: Teresa Zundel
Enterprise eCommerce