Back-to-school time has proven to be a very important period for online sellers. It is becoming the “start” of the shopping season – signaling the end of the summer slowdown and leading into every online retailer’s favorite time: Black Friday and the Holiday Season.
I’ve got a few tips on how you can make sure you’re completely prepared for back-to-school shoppers so you have the best shot at converting the most visitors into buyers.
1. Don’t run out of stock: products and supplies
Nothing is worse than getting a burst of traffic and not being able to fill all of the orders – or the feeling of running out of shipping supplies mid-day.
Though you may work with a supplier who can you get product overnight, the added fees can be killer. And when it comes to packaging, you can jet to the store and pick up emergency alternatives, but it’s never quite the same as your “go-to”.
To avoid these situations, make sure to stock up! Order extras of your best-selling products, especially if you sell back-to-school essentials (clothes, school supplies, technology, shoes, etc). Do the same with your packaging! If you use free USPS.com shipping supplies, order lots of your common sizes. The post office may not have enough boxes on hand, so ordering a few weeks ahead is important.
2. Make sure your site is mobile friendly
Mobile traffic to online retail stores increased in 2015, while desktop traffic actually saw a decrease in 2015. While this trend may not continue in 2016, it won’t hurt to make sure your entire site – from browsing to checkout is completely mobile friendly. In fact, it may be a requirement if you want to make sure as many visitors as possible make a purchase.
This article from Digiday shows the increase in mobile traffic during the back-to-school period during 2015 compared to 2014. I can only assume this trend will continue this year!
3. Acknowledge back-to-school time and setup an offer or promotion
The line between brick-and-mortar retail and online retail is blurring. Shoppers expect stores to reflect seasonal changes when they visit whether it’s at the mall or online. Although you can’t pop a sign outside your door that says “It’s time for school! 50% off t-shirts,” there are other ways to showcase your participation.
You could highlight a great deal on your homepage (like free shipping or discounts on wanted items) or even send a promotional email to previous customers. They need gear for back to school, they could return to a merchant they like and trust! If your store acknowledges that it’s back-to-school time and makes it obvious that you’ve got a special offer during this time period, it will likely increase your potential sales.
This leads directly into my next tip…
4. Consider offering free shipping if you normally don’t
According to the National Retail Federation, 84% of shoppers this back-to-school shopping season expect to take advantage of “Free Back-to-School Shipping” from online stores. If you don’t usually offer free shipping, now is the time.
If you’re nervous about missing out on shipping dollars, consider setting a purchase threshold. This could lead to more high-dollar-value orders just to take advantage of the offer. Free shipping could even be your “tax-free special” shoppers expect around this time of year.
5. Know the industries that benefit most, but anticipate more sales regardless
There are 4 industries that benefit most from the back-to-school rush, and those are:
- Electronics & Technology
- School supplies / Office supplies
If you are in these specific industries, make sure you’re ready with stock, a responsive shipping policy, and notify your existing base that your online store is ready to help them get back-to-school properly.
Even if you don’t directly sell items in these categories, there’s a good chance that shoppers are looking for other items as well. It happens to everyone – you go shopping looking for one thing and come home with ten.
Free shipping, mobile-friendly stores, and back-to-school offers will put you ahead of the pack of online sellers. Preparation is key and ensures a strong shopping season. Best of luck out there, and happy selling!