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4x Increase in Back to School eCommerce & Last Minute Tips for Online Retailers

July marks the start of the second biggest shopping time of the year, and while the kids are sleeping in and playing video games, parents have their sights set on deals that will help them stay within their budget for the back to school season. If you're an online retailer, back to school needs to be marked on your "holiday planning" calendar:

Since 2003, online shopping has more than quadrupled for back to school, comparison-shopping

1/4 of back to school shoppers said they start shopping at least two months before school begins and almost half start a month before.

Shoppers heading online will spend $874 on average for back-to-school supplies

Mobile and tablet shopping is on the rise, as 1/3 of back to school shoppers will research products and comparison shop on their mobile and tablet devices

It’s clear that an ample opportunity has presented itself - get started on an eCommerce strategy that will create an easy, hassle-free solution for parents' back to school needs.

Help Your Shoppers Find You, and What They Need

Create dedicated shopping sections that showcase value and savings, as well as categories such as age, grade, gender, subject or department that make it easier for parents to get what they need easily and efficiently. Remember to hide facets that are not relevant to the products. For instance, a pencil usually isn't specially tied to any subject, but art pencils on the other hand should be categorized properly.

Also adding a new set of microsites and landing pages personalizes the experience for your shopper, creating a more relevant experience - the more relevant the products, the more likely your shoppers will buy. Themes, product types, and uses are all good starting points for creating microsites, such as hardware tools for wood-shop, automotive tools for mechanics-in-training, and even knitting patterns for that yarn class. Just because your online store doesn't directly sell to children of school age, doesn't mean you shouldn't optimize for back to school sales.

How about some pie with that free shipping?

Let’s face it; although your shoppers will be looking around for the best bargains, shipping costs can be a deal-breaker. You want to create a hassle-free, back to school solution that is also practical for your shoppers: something like “spend $50 and ship it free on us” could prove to be effective, but it would be safe to say that just about everyone will have some sort of shipping promotion during this season, so don’t be afraid to get a bit more creative. Referral programs via social media or email can be a fun way to make the customer feel like they are part of something exclusive. If they can gift a percentage off to a friend, they’ll be much more likely to pass it along.

Say It Loud

Before you can get a shopper to start navigating your page for their back to school gear, you need to get them there first. This is a good opportunity to take a look at who bought what at this time period last year, and send out a promotional email to these shoppers. You can personally tell them about this year’s promotions and all the cool new merchandise you have! After they finally get to your site, your shoppers will want to immediately see what you have to offer, so have your deals and promotions displayed front and center because the last thing they will want to do is navigate through 5 pages before they realize that there are some sales going on.

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