Marketing to People Who Shop Online at Work

A recent study supports what we all suspected: people shop online at work. We provide marketing tips for cashing in on the cubicle crowd.
On Wednesday, comScore announced that consumers had spent $846 million online on Cyber Monday, making it the second largest online spending day on record. And analysts predict that the next few Mondays before Christmas (as well as the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) will also result in more cash in online retailers' merchant accounts. Why? Because more than ever people are shopping online from work — and this holiday season more people are expected to shop online than in stores.

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In fact, according to a survey commissioned by, a division of the National Retail Federation, 55.8 percent of people with Internet access at work (some 73 million people) said they planned to shop online from their workplace computers this holiday season. And that statistic is backed up by VISA, which processes 47 percent of all online purchases and has the credit card charges to prove that more people than ever are shopping online during the workweek.

So how can you take advantage of all this workplace online spending? Lauren Freedman, the president of the e-tailing group, offered the following advice.

Five Easy Tips for Attracting the Office Crowd this Holiday Season

  1. E-mail existing and prospective customers (i.e., people on your e-mail list) advance notice of sales and specials.

  2. Offer "limited time only" promotions during the work day (e.g., between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., during workers' lunch break, when they are most likely to shop online), keeping times/offers the same so customers are conditioned to look for them.

  3. Mirror e-mailed offers on your site.

  4. Post promotions across the Web, including on coupon and promotional sites.

  5. Establish a viral component and/or do cross-promotions with other (complementary) e-tailers. Busy workers often group shopping/purchases, so by having links to other sites where they may want to shop (and vice versa), you are helping them be more efficient — and increasing the chance of a sale.

In addition to her five marketing tips, Freedman also encouraged online merchants to further accommodate workplace shoppers by making it as easy as possible to save or return to their shopping carts, in case they get called away on business.

"Offer them the option to save their cart," she said, "and let them know that their cart's been saved." Similarly, consider sending customers who abandoned their cart before making a purchase a quick, friendly email, letting them know they can always return later — and (if possible) including an incentive to get them to return.

Lastly, she said, save customers' carts anyway, at least for a few days, in case they do decide to return. Oftentimes workplace shoppers are in too big of a rush or are too distracted to save their cart, even if they meant to. If you do the work for them, they'll appreciate it. Online shopping is, after all, all about convenience — and value.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to and runs a blog for and about small businesses.

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