3 Ways Online Retailers Can Maximize Their Back-To-School Sales


Share on LinkedIn

The beginning of August marks the heart of the back-to-school shopping season, and according to the National Retail Foundation, parents and students are purchasing goods more freely.  

In its most recent Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys, the NRF predicted consumers will spend $7.8 billion more in the 2016 back-to-school season than they did at the same time last year. Another study conducted by eMarketer complemented the NRF’s findings, noting that back-to-school sales will rise 2.6 percent from last year 

If you’re one of the many retailers trying to get a big piece out of this growing pie, there are three steps you can take to maximize your back-to-school sales:


1. Use intent-driven retargeting 

As reported by eMarketer, according to research from Rubicon Project and Penn Schoen Berland Associates, 34 percent of parents had already started shopping for school items in June. These results came from 1,506 U.S. adults visiting e-commerce sites for products. The question is, of those who commenced shopping in June, how many actually bought products at that time? How many are still researching?

Without a doubt, online retailers use retargeting campaigns to attract parents who visited their sites and left without purchasing anything. Who could blame them? AdRoll noted that retargeting can increase conversion rates by 29 times. In addition, CMO and Software Advice found that customers who view retargeted ads are 70 percent more likely to convert on the publisher’s website. 

Although e-commerce brands likely retarget back-to-school shoppers, few may use intent to dictate which ads those people see. For instance, just because a college freshman looks up a laptop in June doesn’t mean he was planning to buy the next time he visited your site. Maybe he was just conducting research on the product or simply browsing. 

By recognizing and aligning campaigns to the intent of back-to-school shoppers, you can increase engagement with relevant messages and call-to-actions. For instance, NRF found that 65 percent of money spent on back-to-school will go towards making apparel and electronic purchases. By identifying whether a back-to-school shopper is ready to buy a new electronic device or just researching the different options, you can create campaigns that align with their needs in order to increase the likelihood of conversion. Also, by picking up on pre-sale signals from visitors in the research phase, you can create lead-nurturing initiatives such as ‘check out what is the best laptop to get this back-to-school season’. As the back-to-school season kicks into gear, make sure your retargeting campaigns are optimized to your visitors’ intent.

2. Develop consistent in-store vs online experiences

Mobile has changed the incentives under which back-to-school shoppers find and obtain goods. An in-store beacon may analyze a store visitor’s product search history and direct them to relevant commodities. A shopper may reserve items in a store through their mobile device to pick them up later. 

It doesn’t make sense to put in-store shoppers in one category and online customers in another. Results from Deloitte’s 2016 Back-to-School Survey supported this conclusion

  • More than half of parents will use smartphones at some time in the conversion process.
  • Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of parents will research products online before visiting stores to buy goods. 
  • 64 percent cited visiting a website as the No. 1 use for a smartphone on the buying journey.

The NRF also weighed in on omni-channel behaviors, finding that approximately 54 percent of back-to-school consumers and 53 percent of back-to-college shoppers buy products online and pick them up in stores. 

How can retailers create a consistent experience across their online and brick-and-mortar stores? It starts with retailers understanding the wants and needs of their customers. This means that reliable streams of data from the voice of their customers are required to inform brands of which areas they need to focus on in their development.

Not all forms of feedback are equal, of course. The most accurate and authentic type comes in the moment of truth, directly after a customer has accomplished, or attempted to complete a specific task on a website or in-store, whether it is gathering new information from product pages, seeking support from a live representative or making a purchase in-store. With details about every aspect of the omni-channel experience, retailers can better bridge the gaps from the online to the brick-and-mortar experience.

 3. Personalize content with stated intent

Forrester research noted 91 percent of marketers use personalization to improve customer experiences, but these efforts aren’t hitting the right notes among shoppers. The research company found that only 31 percent of consumers said companies do a good job delivering personalized content on a consistent basis. 

Inc referenced a study from Eyeview, which found that 40 percent of students and 45 percent of parents say personalized advertising “gets their attention”. Local targeting had a stronger impact, with 66 percent of students and 74 percent of parents saying it influenced their decisions more than any other type of marketing initiative.  

While personalization may be the key to winning back-to-school shoppers, it’s evident from Forrester’s research that many consumers aren’t biting the carrot. So retailers have to figure out what’s wrong with the stick.

The key to creating effective personalization is to know what the consumer wants to do now, or what they plan to do in the future. The more that marketers understand about user intent, the better their marketing efforts will be. Intent data ensures that only contextually relevant content gets through to the consumer. 

By using intent, you can more quickly satisfy specific customer needs and ultimately reduce the stress associated with the back-to-school shopping season. 

To learn more about how iPerceptions is using the voice of your customers to recognize intent schedule a demo today.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here