6 Ways to Grab Your Share of Back to School Shoppers

back to school shoppers

Back-to-school season is on the horizon—or already here, depending on what part of the country you’re in. How can your retail store or eCommerce business target back-to-school shoppers?

Shop.org’s Back to School 2013 Online Consumer Shopping Outlook has some insights.

Overall, parents with school-age children will spend a projected $26.7 billion on back-to-school this year—down slightly from 2012. Online shoppers will spend more; an average of $896 on clothing, shoes, school supplies, and electronics or computer-related goods. That’s a whopping 41 percent more than the average amount all shoppers will spend.

Grab Your Share of Back to School Shoppers

Get Online Shoppers In-Store

More than half of parents say they will do more comparison shopping online this year. That means even if your business doesn’t sell online, you have a chance to grab online shoppers’ attention.

Place Google Ads that get served up when shoppers search for what you sell. Get your SEO up to par so your site comes up high in search results. Make sure your store is listed on local search directories like Local.com. Emphasize the “get it now!” factor and that if customers shop in your store, they can have the item in hand immediately without waiting for shipping.

Start Early

Twenty-three percent of all back-to-school shoppers start shopping two months before school starts and over one-third of online back-to-school shoppers do so.

That means they’re shopping now—so get your marketing messages out there, especially online.

Go Late

A parallel trend to the early shopping: More kids are waiting until after school starts to buy school supplies, clothing and accessories.

For kids, the goal is to see what other kids are actually wearing (and what supplies teachers require) before they buy. For parents, the goal is to nab those last-minute markdowns. Keep up on what products are hot sellers in your area and make sure you’re stocked up until, and even after, school starts.

Plan to keep your back-to-school marketing messages going until mid-September or even later.

Keep it Simple

If you sell online, make sure your search, comparison and checkout processes are as streamlined as possible. Parents are busy, so they want to get in, find what they need and get out.

Create quick links to back-to-school items and spotlight popular products. The same principle applies offline, so make sure your store is adequately staffed and stocked. Set up prominent back-to-school displays and create “packages,” such as discounts on a week’s worth of uniform shirts, to speed shopping and encourage more spending.

Help Them Out

Online, make information like shipping charges, return policies and sales tax easy to find so parents know what to expect at checkout. Provide a variety of ways for parents to get help fast, such as a toll-free phone number, email and online chat. Display them prominently on every page of your website.

Make a Deal

A survey by BIGinsight found almost 77 percent of parents of school-aged children say the economy is affecting their back-to-school purchasing plans. More than one-third say they’ll use coupons and more than one-fourth will ask children to re-use items from last school year to save money.

Whether you’re selling online or off, discounts, deals and special offers are the way to a parent’s heart at back-to-school time.

Back to School Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.