Back to School 2018: An E-Commerce Crash Course (Part 1)

Australians are about to enter one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year. If you’re assuming we’re talking about Christmas, think again. We’re talking about the back-to-school season. Back-to-school spending is increasing year-on-year and the eCommerce component of those sales is increasing exponentially.

It was reported that the 2017 back-to-school spend was $17.2billion from 26 December to 15 January. This includes everything from lunchboxes and backpacks to stationary and computers. With consumer confidence rising and online spending increasing, opportunities abound for e-commerce businesses to get in on the action.

The time to act is now.

Just getting your head around Christmas sales and worried you’re not doing everything possible to reach the huge number of consumers going online to get ready for school? Take a deep breath and get ready to dive into our crash course on 2018 back-to-school shopping trends.

Let’s get started…

Shopping Around

The trend:

Research conducted with over 1,000 Australian parents of children 6-14 years of age found that parents shop around, with three quarters (72%) of parents going to different stores as well as online, to buy their children’s school supplies. Another survey found that 62% will visit 2-3 stores to purchase school supplies.

Most back-to-school shoppers go to different places to buy their school supplies at the best price (44%). This means that back-to-school shoppers have yet to decide between online or in-store shopping or even where they plan to spend their school-supply dollars.

This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to used targeted promotional efforts. These are shoppers that are committed to purchasing specific products but who are determined to research extensively first and aren’t necessarily loyal to a brand or even channel to shop.

The strategy:

In a word, retarget! This is an ideal time for brands and retailers to focus on connecting with customers who have expressed an interest in specific products but are on the fence about where to purchase them. By targeting customers based on recent activity, you can convince families to make your site their shopping destination of choice.

The more purchasing options you provide, the greater the chance families will buy back-to-school items from you instead of your competitors.

For example, did you know that 76% of people who do a smartphone search for something nearby visit a business within a day, and that 28% of those searches result in purchases? No doubt those numbers are even higher during the back-to-school season.

Local Inventory Ads are a great way to showcase products to nearby shoppers the moment they search for a back-to-school product on Google. By displaying your in-store inventory alongside local store hours and directions, you can ensure shoppers are drawn to your locations when conducting their pre-shopping research.

Likewise, a “Where to Buy” widget can be used to create a seamless transition from your e-commerce website to nearby retail locations where consumers can see, sample and buy your products.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

The trend:

The latest data from Google shows that mobile is connecting shoppers to brands and retailers more than ever before. Whether this means that your customer will search on their smartphone and visit in-store, or price compare via mobile and then purchase via your site, ensure you’re aware of their purchase behaviour and how this should impact your strategy.

The strategy:

No mystery here: It’s time to optimise your mobile presence. Suffice it to say that a speedy and seamless mobile shopping experience is going to be essential to a successful season.

Need help with omnichannel strategy for the back-to-school strategies season?  ChannelAdvisor’s eCommerce platform is designed to accelerate the move to new marketplace and digital marketing channels. To learn how we can help you connect to more customers, get in touch.

Next up in part two of this blog series: influencing power and back-to-school sales. Stay tuned!