How to reel in those back to school shoppers

July 15, 2016

Yup, it’s back to school time already

A time-honored tradition

When my kids were younger, back to school shopping was big. I mean REALLY big. Whether it was supplies and clothes in grade school; technology and clothes in high school or dorm decor and clothes for college, shopping didn’t come cheap. It was expected that shiny new notebooks and brand new sneakers were the order of the day. It’s no different today.

However, in spite of what the media says about the uptick in the economy, families are struggling. Today’s back-to-school consumers are looking for bargains. In addition, they’re looking for those bargains online.

Pinterest is the place to be for back to school

According to Crowdtap, almost a third of US adults said they would use Pinterest to not only choose their purchases but organize them as well. Are your back-to-school pins up to date? Remember, the best way to use Pinterest is for selling the vision, not necessarily the product. Show clothing with accessories; display apartment or dorm-size furniture and make sure you tie them with current trends for fashion and design.

Engage shoppers with online contests and promotions

Heyo suggests running a Facebook or Twitter contest to get potential shoppers interested in your shop. Do a “Memories of Summer” photo or video contest; run a hashtag campaign or create a back to school trivia game. Give shoppers an extra reason to pay attention with fun prizes like local school merchandise coupled with items from your store.

Mobile shopping will be strongerBack to school shopping on mobile

For researching products and bargains, mobile will be used by nearly a third of all back to school shoppers. A recent study suggests 60% of parents will be doing some shopping on their mobile phones. Mobile shopping is especially strong with the younger generations which represents parents of younger grade school and middle school students. This means your online marketing efforts such as email need to be optimized for mobile. I always suggest using an email provider such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or iContact. They offer templates already optimized for mobile marketing.

As I’ve already mentioned, Pinterest will be the go-to place for back to school shoppers and interestingly, 92% of Pinterest users view pins on their mobile phones.

In-store shopping remains strong

Let’s face it, back to school shopping is an event and an outing with the kids doesn’t happen online. Don’t let all the talk about the growth of ecommerce and mcommerce (mobile) keep you from enticing customers into your shop. Encourage shoppers with fun contests. Create a “Mom needs a time out” night for busy Moms who are shopping for their kids. Have a fashion show for high school or college age girls. Furniture shops should be highlighting their smaller items, especially those with a vintage vibe. If you’re in a college town, consider a “Decorate the Dorm” night and have on hand a variety of funky lighting fixtures, pictures, side chairs and tables.

If you’re wondering when is the best time to hold a Back to School Event, check your states tax-free weekend and plan accordingly. Be sure to read Are Tax-Free Holidays Beneficial? too.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.