8 Ways to Drive More Ecommerce Sales This Back-to-School Season

Nothing can quite compare to the holiday shopping season and its incredible sales volume. However, back-to-school shopping is quickly becoming a huge opportunity for retailers to cash in on increased shopping demand.

Back-to-school shopping is predicted to account for over $65 Billion in U.S Ecommerce sales. It’s also the most lucrative summer shopping period, accounting for nearly 70% of all Q3 eCommerce revenue. It doesn’t matter what you sell on your store, you need to be prepared for back-to-school shoppers.

We’ll take a look at some of this year’s back-to-school shopping trends as well as 8 different ways you can generate more sales this August and September!

Back-to-School Shopping Trends

  • 65% of total spending will be on apparel and electronics. (NRF)
  • The most popular back-to-school items are electronics, clothing/accessories, shoes, and school supplies.
  • 37% of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop online.
  • U.S. back-to-school sales are set to increase 15.3% this year. (eMarketer)
  • The majority of back-to-school purchases will be made in August. (Deloitte)

1. Know Who Your Buyers Are

It’s easy to ignore back-to-school shopping, especially if you don’t think those shoppers will be interested in what you sell. However, this is not the kind of thinking pattern you want to get into. View the increase in shopping traffic as an opportunity to cash in! It’s also important to look at who shops during this period.

The biggest back-to-school shoppers are parents. This is ideal for businesses selling back-to-school-related items because parents will have significantly more purchasing power. This also means that businesses who may not be selling popular back-to-school items could cash in on parents who are in the buying mode.

Another key segment to target is college students. They have some purchasing power and are much more likely to be shopping for themselves or at least researching the products they want to get. If you know your store is popular with college-aged consumers, it may make sense to heavily focus on this segment.

And don’t forget about schools and teachers. They need things too! School supplies, storage, and computer-related products are all categories that could grab some larger sales from this segment.

2. Create Back-to-School Product Collections and Landing Pages

There are a couple reasons to create product collections and landing pages for back-to-school products. First, you cater your website specifically to attract back-to-school shoppers. This gives visitors a place to start their shopping and also limits options, making the decision making process simpler. Second, you need a few destination pages if you’re running Facebook advertisements, PPC ads, or promotions that prompt shoppers to “shop now.”

Consider creating buying guides, collections, and even sale sections specific to the back-to-school products you’re selling. Don’t think you have any products back-to-school shoppers would be interested in? Create a themed product collection anyway. By simply using that language, you may be able to drive some sales to close out Q3!

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3. Build Your Email List

Email is the most powerful sales channel with ROI up to 40x! But email marketing is nothing unless you continuously focus on email list growth. The more contacts you have to market to, the more sales opportunities you create. Building your list now will open up more opportunities come holiday season. Aside from the benefit of fueling your email marketing engine, list building also provides an effective traffic conversion strategy.

98% of traffic leaves your site without converting. By presenting website visitors with an email pop up, you can convert a higher percentage of bounce traffic. This justifies investment in paid traffic and enhances overall traffic conversion. Try adding an incentive like a discount to increase email opt-ins and also encourage shoppers to purchase that same visit.

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4. Send Emails

Building off of the previous section, I just want to reiterate how potent of a sales tool email can be for your business. If you haven’t gotten your first set of back-to-school emails out yet, jump on it! This is a perfect time to notify subscribers of back-to-school-related products, seasonal sales, or even back-to-school-related content. Also, consider reaching out about Labor Day weekend (9/3-9/5) or even something fun like National Dog Day (8/26). Here are some excellent dates to schedule emails for back to school and the month of August.

5. Use Discounts and Free Shipping

Competition is high during busy shopping seasons. Back-to-school season is no exception. Today’s savvy shopper is looking for the best deal possible and they know how to find it. Whether it be comparing prices with a competitor or tracking down a promo code, shoppers are hunting for savings. The best way to keep shoppers on your site and to purchase from you is to offer promotions.

Offering discounts caters to those price shoppers and converts them into buyers. Also, shipping costs are a common reason for cart abandonment. Simply offering free shipping could be the difference in making a sale versus losing that sale to a competitor.

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6. Anticipate Last-Minute Shoppers

Whenever we discuss school we also have to mention procrastination. This common practice that we all know too well from our school days also applies to back-to-school shoppers. Plus, some schools and colleges don’t start until the end of September so there’s still plenty of demand.

Cater to these shoppers by continuing to market back-to-school sales and products. You can also get creative and use urgency tactics to push shoppers to capitalize on saving some money. Run your back-to-school marketing and promotions through the end of September, then you can pivot to Halloween and the holidays.

7. Create Back-to-School Themed Content

Consumers have back-to-school shopping on their minds, so feed that appetite. Create a couple pieces of content with a back-to-school theme to, at the very least, grab the attention of your shoppers. This content can be buying guides, a list of popular back-to-school products, or even a detailed review of a single product.

Here’s a great example from B&H Photo, Video, and Audio. This article specifically targets the audio student shopping for new equipment. Also, note the related article about guitars that are perfect for the quad. We all know that one guy who sits on the bench playing “Wonderwall.” He probably bought his guitar from B&H!

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8. Combat Cart Abandonment

Wherever there is shopping, there is also cart abandonment. The stakes are definitely higher when there’s an increase in traffic and demand. To capitalize on this seasonal uptick, you need a way to convert abandoning visitors into paying customers.

Here’s your solution to this pesky problem:

Present a promo code to abandoning shoppers using an exit pop up. This will grab their attention while also providing an incentive to purchase in that same visit. The top reason for cart abandonment is high price of shipping and the overall cart value. By presenting a promo code for free shipping or a discount, you can eliminate the temptation to abandon. Adding this safety net gives you one last chance at a sale while also fulfilling the potential abandoner’s needs.

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There you have it; you’re ready for school to start! To review the highlights:

  • Have an idea of who will be most likely to buy from you. Then shape your marketing strategy around them.
  • Use incentives to drive sales and build your email list while also sending out several emails about your back-to-school offerings.
  • Reduce cart abandonment by fulfilling shopper needs at key moments of their visit.

Hopefully these 8 tips will help you close out a huge 3rd quarter of the year. Back-to-school shopping is a great opportunity to grab some sales and also have a trial run to optimize your site for the big holiday season just a couple of months away.

Grant Thomas Grant Thomas is a Marketing Manager and Lead Blogger at Justuno. His work on conversion rate optimization, email capture, and ecommerce marketing can be found on the Justuno blog. Add him on Twitter.

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