Moms are empowered consumers who head to the Web to meet their many product needs. With mothers controlling an estimated 80% of household spending, or $1.7 trillion a year, retailers must understand how women’s shopping behavior changes when they have children.

“Moms want to do business with retailers that are respectful and responsive to their needs and concerns,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “How Moms and Retailers Interact Online.”

About 85% of online moms said having a baby changed their purchasing habits, according to “21st Century Mom,” a 2009 study published by BabyCenter, an online community for expectant and new moms. The report also found widespread changes in media usage among moms—many of whom used both mom-centric and mainstream social media sites more than before.

Graph showing change in media usage

Change in media usage

“Moms band together on social networks to share coupon codes and information about special product deals,” said Mr. Grau. “And a disgruntled mom can exploit the viral effects of the Internet to pressure a business to fix a problem.”

Retailers that want to reach moms can take many steps to appeal to this time-crunched demographic concerned with the health and well-being of their families. Moms appreciate brands that use Twitter to put on a human face to respond to their complaints. They also like easy-to-use Websites with helpful features such as live chat, visualization tools, product reviews, easy returns and curbside pickup.

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