Retail Trends

Omnichannel helps capture more Back-to-School Sales

The Back-to-school period is typically a busy time for retailers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that back-to-school (BTS) spending will reach $75.8 billion this year,  up from last year’s $68 billion, making August the second highest spending period of the year after the winter holidays.

Despite the inroads made by  e-commerce, BTS spending is still dominated by bricks-and-mortar retailers. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers,  consumers still prefer physical stores for BTS shopping, with 83% of their purchases involving physical stores.

Back-to-school promotions offer bricks-and-mortar retailers a great opportunity to build customer loyalty and draw customers into stores using online promotions, loyalty rewards, and free shipping/in-store pick-up options.  Of those who order online and pick-up in-store, 79% said they are likely to buy additional items once in the store, accoerding to the ICSC.

Many retailers start their back-to-school promotions in July. But 70 percent of consumers will do their shopping the month before school starts, so if you haven´t started your promotions, now is the perfect time to harness all your channels to bring customers into your store and build up customer loyalty.

Make all channels cross the physical store at one point or another

The NRF data shows that over 50 percent of consumers will do at least some BTS shopping online. An omnichannel experience provides shoppers with flexible options which let them save time and avoid summer crowds.

Getting mobile and online users to sign up for loyalty rewards gives retailers the opportunity to collect customer data as well as alert customers of specific product availability and offer online promotional codes which can only be fulfilled in a physical store.

Once they are in the store, it is easier to entice customers to buy something else – or sign up for your customer loyalty program – while they are there.

Free shipping and ship-to-store capabilities are also good ways to attract customers. According to the NRF, 89% of consumers indicated they would take advantage of free shipping as well as employ buy online/pickup-in-store (54%), reserve items online (11%), use expedited delivery (16%) and pay extra for same-day delivery (10%).

Marks & Spencer  is one example of bricks-and-mortar retailer using these tactics.  It offers free delivery on orders over £50 and free store pick-up, making their promotions work whether a customer starts their purchase journey in the store or at home.

Physical stores provide a more localized experience

Bricks-and-mortar stores will always be able to provide a localized and tangible shopping experience no e-commerce site can offer, especially if stores sell back-to-school items to a niche clientele.

Retailers who equip their sales force with mobile apps to access product information and availability as well as place orders and take payments will empower their sales force to give customers more personalized and time-saving shopping experience.

A knowledgeable staff with the ability to provide extraordinary service is often enough to make customers spend a bit more than they would online and go out of the way to purchase something unique. Proper management and placement of inventory allows for easy browsing and makes the stock look good, both to parents and their children.

The NRF data suggests over half of consumers will still shop in clothing stores, and nearly two-thirds will go to department stores and discount stores. Back-to-school promotions are an excellent chance for customers to fill their baskets in one place and building up your customer loyalty.

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