Esellers, don’t sweat it: 6 tips to prepare for back to school shoppers

Sarah Pritzker
Sarah Pritzker
June 28, 2017

Staples got it right: September is the most wonderful time of the year, and not just for parents. The summer slump  is over, and eSellers who play their cards right will be able to maximize sales during this shopping frenzy. It’s just about setting yourself up properly and knowing the essential tricks of the trade.

While clothing, electronics, school and office supplies, and shoe retailers will see the biggest jump in sales, online shopping is on the rise everywhere, so here’s what every eSeller should know to get themselves ready for back to school shoppers.

1. Stay well stocked

Every store owner knows to order extra inventory and keep a good supply of stock on hand prior to a busy season. With 24/7 accessibility to their stores, online vendors have an even bigger responsibility to ensure that they’re well-prepared for the rush, and that doesn’t just include stocking up on products.

Make sure you have a solid supply of packing and shipping materials available, so there is no delay in shipping during this hectic season. Not only will you avoid missed sales by keeping well-stocked, but you’ll also save yourself from having to pay higher fees for last-minute orders or having to go to a more expensive supplier because your regular supplier ran out.

2. Consider free shipping

Free shipping is a controversial subject for most online retailers, but one thing is for certain: Close to 90% of consumers intend to take advantage of free shipping to alleviate the back to school shopping crunch this year. Even if you don’t normally offer free shipping, now is really the time to consider it because that might be the only thing that makes your online store different than your competitors’.

Source: National Retail Federation

3. Cater to the millennials

This new generation of parents are shopping differently than previous ones; they’re the DIY, self-sufficient types, who are well-accustomed to online shopping. Make sure your website is user-friendly and set up so it’s easy to get the job done on their own. Some tips:

  • Make sure information is accurate and easy to find on your site
  • Make product details clear and comprehensive
  • Give good (and plenty of) product images
  • Check that all links are valid and accurate
  • Make the checkout process smooth
  • Reduce load time to avoid bounce rate
  • Put your best products first
  • Check categorization on all your marketplace channels

Basically, make the shopping experience faster, easier, and more effortless, and your site is golden.

4. Mobile-friendly is a must

In today’s mobile-driven society, an eSeller without a mobile-optimized website or app might as well not exist at all. Mobile traffic continues to rise, and it’s particularly booming during the back to school season when parents are rushed and frenzied to get everything bought on time. See to it that you have an app or mobile-ready site, that images load nicely and quickly, that all functionality is working properly, and that checkout doesn’t have any glitches. You can also send out promotional discounts or sales via SMS that links straight to your mobile site.

5. Launch your SEO strategy

Unless you’re a major corporation with tremendous brand leverage, your best SEO strategy will be long-tail keywords. Look to rank for phrases that define your product or particular brand message to gain an edge over the competition that may already have the high rankings for the obvious keywords like “back to school” and “school supplies.” You can add your city or state to further personalize your keywords to your specific niche, or add in a word that relates to your audience uniquely. Don’t forget unique, fresh content and descriptions for your products and site.

6. Understand the promotion mentality

Just as shoppers expect to see major sales during high seasons (holidays, Black Friday, Memorial Day, etc.), online shoppers are looking for those back to school discounts. Whether you promote your sales directly on your homepage, with a pop-up ad, via your newsletters, in an email, or over social media, let your customers know that you are also acknowledging their need for a break by offering something in return for their business. If you don’t want to have a sale on hot items, offer free shipping or discount a slow-moving item.

But why now?

You might be wondering why you should bother preparing now for back to school with so many weeks of summer ahead of you. To get a confident grasp of a shopping season, you need to prepare weeks, sometimes months, in advance. You can be sure the big box stores are, and if you want to compete, you should too. Experts also recommend launching any SEO campaign about a month before the actual season starts, and with BTS searches starting as early as May, you’ve already missed the early birds.

And by mid-August many people are already finished with back to school shopping, so you could potentially miss the entire season by waiting any longer. Stocking up, planning and implementing SEO/keyword/ad campaigns, and getting your staff ready for this season takes time, so the best time to start is now.

Whether you’re catering to parents shopping for their middle schoolers or towards the older college-bound crowd, you can utilize these back to school retail tips to maximize conversion, turning those visitors into customers, and potential into revenue with ease.

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