Back to School E-Commerce Essentials 2019

Back-to-School Online Shopping

Written by Bobby Nairn, One Step Retail Blogger | 3 MIN. READ


2019 is officially NOT showing any signs of slowing down as shoppers prepare to lace up their fresh, first-day of school sneakers and fill their backpacks ahead of the 2019 Back to School season. The beginning of August is expected to be the busiest of 2019’s Back to School rush as 60% of shoppers plan to begin crossing items off of their Back to School checklists during this time period.

Deloitte just released an optimistic report suggesting that $27.8 billion will be spent during the 2019 Back to School season, eclipsing last year’s total of $27.6 billion. While 56% of shoppers plan to visit your physical stores for back to school purchases, 60% of shoppers will begin their shopping journey on a digital channel—reviewing product info, checking pricing, and exploring for promotional deals. Noting the importance of a modified digital experience as shoppers are expected to make more online Back to School purchases than ever before.

Back to School season also proves to be an ideal time for retailers to press reset and refresh their digital strategies—not only for Back to School specific initiatives—but rather to prepare for a snowballing finish to 2019. Before we look ahead to the all-important, upcoming Q4 shopping holidays, including Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course, your Winter Season favorites—here are a few things to consider as the Back to School Season gets underway…

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Shoppers of all ages are turning to smartphones, iPads, laptops, and an array of devices that influence their purchasing decisions throughout the shopping experience. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many as online shopping continues to grow at an extraordinary pace—becoming the chosen destination of today’s digital-first shoppers. It is now more important than ever for retailers to adapt to an omnichannel strategy that offers a cohesive experience between digital and physical channels.

Get started early.

A number of Back to School shoppers will begin shopping in July (a bit on the early side) and are projected to spend roughly $100 more than the average Back to School shopper. In recent years, busy shopping seasons seem to be expanding in length—starting earlier and finishing later. For this reason, it is so important for retailers to get a jumpstart on planning and promoting their brand, allowing more time to properly schedule campaigns, test a variety of advertisements, fill content calendars, and dazzle with your creative assets.

Procrastination pays off… for retailers.

Yes, you read that correctly. Shoppers will not be saved by the bell. In fact, consumers that hold off on their shopping efforts until the remaining two weeks before Back to School season closes are expected to spend $370 more than the average Back to School shopper. Don’t forget to plan your online promotions well into September to capitalize on last-minute shoppers.

Hit record.

Today’s shoppers prefer the movie. Back to School video ad spend increased by nearly 25% between 2017 and 2018. When you consider the rise of Instagram and Facebook stories, these numbers should only continue to improve. Additionally, almost 70% of shoppers use social media stories (Facebook and Instagram) as reliable channels for exploring products and uncovering new brands. Test the waters with video ads and prepare for more online conversions, just be sure that your videos are mobile-friendly.

PPC.

No, not pay-per-click, but rather price, product, and convenience. As Deloitte survey respondents summed up their buying motivations best, “Good pricing, clear ads, and discounts… If I have to search for more than 10 seconds, I move onto another store.” Win shoppers over right away with a very clear and concise unique selling point.

Record-setting digital usage.

For the first time in history, shoppers are just as likely to complete a purchase from their smartphone. Which should show, if it hasn’t already, just how essential a mobile-optimized experience is to Back to School shoppers in 2019 (especially the 63% millennials that shop on their phones).

Bridge the gap.

You hear it all the time, “meet customers where they are.” The most successful retailers understand how meaningful the relationship is between online and in-store. Integrating your digital and physical inventory is a great place to start as this helps to manage inventory more effectively across channels, while using your brick and mortar stores as fulfillment centers (buy online & pick up in-store). Today’s tech-savvy, on-the-go shoppers expect the same effortless shopping experiences across channels and devices—make it easy to review product info, check pricing, locate promotions, view recommendations, watch tutorials, read reviews, ask for help, checkout or pick back up where they left off (as many shoppers start on one channel or device and finish on another.)

Families across the United States prepare to spend more than ever during retail’s second busiest season and are expected to do so online. This marks a historic year in retail as shoppers are just as likely to make a purchase using a smartphone as they are using a computer, putting even more pressure on retailers to perfect their omnichannel strategies.

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