Back to school is not just a time for students to get back to learning, but for many of us to refocus after summer vacation. Have you considered how your customers shop for each season? It’s time to get ready for a whole new year.
Back to school shopping is the first “season” to set the stage for how to serve your multichannel customers. With the expected revenue of more than $26 billion from this season alone, parents admit to more mobile price checking while in-store. Consider what parents and students are really seeking.
Provide hyper local help via mobile and online
Many office supply stores and big box stores have localized school supply lists available in-store, but most are not offering this outside of the in-store experience. Consider offering a way for teachers and/or schools to upload their lists, then provide those when families input their zip codes. Mobile users could even select to use GPS options while in the store, driving those who are showrooming to the specific site of the retailer.
Start creating those holiday connections now
New research shows that back-to-college spending will mean parents spend an average of $104 on bedding and decorative accents, creating one of the only categories of growth this year. Consider what college students will be hoping for as holiday gifts, and help them create lists online or with mobile apps. Creative merchants could even provide their own wish lists on Pinterest.
Consider the Student Journey for the Year
Knowing what your customers face tomorrow can help you plan for the various shopping seasons now. College seniors, for example, are already thinking about when they graduate in the spring. Providing text messages that tie together useful job-searching information with coupons for what they’ll need might be a great way to stay in touch throughout the year. Charlotte Russe saw a significant gain when they used text messages to push out a video and coupon. Text messages to anyone under the age of 18 are highly regulated, so be prepared to understand the rules of engagement if attempting any texting campaign aimed at children.
Social Media Outreach Is More Than Facebook Status Updates
Just last month, Pinterest announced a new service where users can receive an alert when the price of something they’ve pinned drops. While certain objects may be beyond the budget for the back-to-school season, when the user receives the alert of the price drop a few weeks (or even months) later, she may just click to order then. Pinterest will automatically send these alerts for merchants who use Pinterest business accounts and product pins.
Checkout is Key
It’s not surprising that many customers mention easy checkout as a key driver of satisfaction with a purchasing experience. During the holidays, many stores provide additional customer service options for checkout, including increasing the number of cashiers available in-store or adding phone support for online shopping. City Target has taken this one step further, checking out those waiting in line with iPads, and in some stores, offering mobile online price checks. If Target offers it lower online, you can order from your phone while still in the store.
Thinking about harried parents trying to check off school supply lists, there are often one or two items they need after the formal supply shopping is completed. Watching what customers order in this fashion online or in-store can create opportunities for convenience. Even follow-up emails to online buyers – forget something? – with common items can help those parents and students when they need it most.
School Is In Session!
While back-to-school shopping is a great time to focus on the basics, knowing the journey your customers are actually taking during this season can help you (and them) all year long. Connect with your customers in the ways they want to connect, and you’ll see results.
Jeannie Walters is CEO at 360Connext.