Back to School/College Tips for E-commerce

Mid-July into September is the second largest consumer spending period each year. Back to school and college spending is expected to exceed $27 billion in 2018 with children likely to influence more than $21 billion of that spending. This large-scale shopping season presents a fabulous business opportunity for retailers and service providers alike so it is important to maximize sales of everything from clothing and personalized bags to last minute haircuts and teeth cleanings.

1. Who

Understand your potential customers by creating back to school buyer personas and ensure you can offer something to each of those groups.

K-12 students - Obtain and publish on your website local or generic back to school lists.

College students – Offer manicure/pedicure specials, a discount on eye exams, or other services that older students will want to take care of before leaving home.

Graduate students – Grown-up school supply specials and personalized snack carriers or coffee mugs will speak to this group.

Market to educators – they need back to school clothes, supplies, and haircuts, too!

Does your business lend itself to niche students enrolled at art, music, culinary, or technology schools?

2. What (beyond the basics of electronics, school supplies, and clothes)

College students – bathroom related items, closet organizers, room decorations and organizers

Remember the power of visuals. Show consumers how your products or services will bring value to their back to school experience.

If your business sells food and drinks, offer before and after school specials at the beginning of the school year.

3. Landing Pages

Create landing pages for each back to school buyer persona to eliminate the need for hunting through your website for the items each group wants.

Utilize vanity URLs to link consumers to specific pages.

In addition to specific landing pages, include back to school categories on your site menu

Just as you would for the Black Friday shopping weekend, ensure that your website is ready for the extra traffic.

4. Collections

Convenience is key. Present collections or groupings of complementary items to help remove the stress of making multiple decisions and alleviate worries about forgetting something.

Pictures of back to school goodie basket groupings help consumers envision using your products, especially if the image shows items actually being used versus staged.

5. Marketing on social media and through email

Utilize ad campaigns to engage a larger audience and direct traffic to your website.

Direct traffic to the landing pages you’ve created specifically for back to school customers.

Market across all digital channels with an appropriate tweak of the message for each targeted audience.

Identify keywords that consumers are searching for and utilize them in marketing and product descriptions.

6. Discounts

Offer rewards for increased spending either in the form of a discount or gift card.

Consider providing free shipping incentives.

Give additional coupons or savings on future purchases if late summer and early fall are not the best times for you to offer deep discounts.

Run your marketing and discounts into the school year to capture business from the procrastinators.

7. Cart Abandonment

Retarget consumers who abandon their carts with an extra discount or other enticement.

Offer the extra discount through a pop-up when the customer starts to exit. A “close the deal now and get an extra 5% off,” type of message.

If you have captured contact information, send an email reminding the consumer of their cartful of items.

8. Device Responsive from window shopping to check-out

Now, more than ever, parents are doing back to school shopping on their mobile devices, including everything from research, to coupon hunting, to actual purchasing.

Over a third of shoppers intend to complete their purchases online.

People tend to research on mobile and then, many times, switch to a desktop when it comes time to make the purchase so it is important that your site looks the same on all devices.

9. Inventory

Stock up and order extra inventory of any commonly purchased back to school item.

Remember to stock up on packaging and shipping materials as well.

Look at your own historical sales data or examine market trends (go to to understand what the hot buys during this sales season could be.

Highlight the back-to-school season on your landing pages, social media posts and email marketing campaigns. Remember to continue catering to last minute shoppers but also be sure to post clear shipping deadlines as well as the expected time it will take from order completion to delivery.

Is your e-commerce ready for the 2018 back to school season? Our expert professionals are ready to help you make the tweaks your site needs. Contact Strategy Driven Marketing today for e-commerce and all of your marketing needs.