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Back to School : Retail Strategies to Make it ‘the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’

Students will probably disagree, but Back to School (BTS) can be a wonderful time of year for retailers. This year analysts are predicting a great BTS season, in fact, according to Shop.org, North Americans will spend almost 84 billion dollars on Back to School items. So how can you ensure your organizations’ prices are optimized […]

Students will probably disagree, but Back to School (BTS) can be a wonderful time of year for retailers. This year analysts are predicting a great BTS season, in fact, according to Shop.org, North Americans will spend almost 84 billion dollars on Back to School items. So how can you ensure your organizations’ prices are optimized to capture as much market share as possible?

The interesting thing about this year’s BTS shopping is that almost 40% of shoppers say that they will shop online for this year’s supplies, according to the survey done by Shop.org. And to top that off, NRF finds that online shoppers are predicted to spend 27% more (or $186 more) than the in-store shoppers!

Although these are all good signs for retailers, the numbers don’t come without some implications. Specifically, as the economy is still top of mind for many consumers, they are increasing the amount of comparison shopping they are doing. Shop.org found that over 50% of consumers say they will do (more) comparison shopping for BTS products and 27.6% saying they will use Smart Phone Apps to do the comparison. All of this to say: consumers are still incredibly price sensitive.

With all of this competition for consumers’ dollars, it is important for retailers to be at the top of their game; here are just a few ways how:

  • Cross Channel Integration: Make that your prices across all your channels (flyers, online, mobile, in-store) are integrated to create consistency for consumers and increase their trust.
  • Mobile is key: Try to offer mobile incentives for consumers, make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices, and that they can find your prices in price comparison apps.
  • Know your competition: Know what prices your competitors are charging and get complete visibility into the latest price intelligence, especially for your online competitors.
  • Value Vs. Price: Try to provide added value and keep your offers simple. You don’t have to offer deep discounts, but rather think creatively about what your customers value and set prices accordingly. Again, it will be important to know what prices and value propositions your competitors are offering. Remember that although the parents are the decision makers, that the students can still influence purchases.
  • Build (on) your loyal customers: BTS isn’t a one-time event. It is actually remarkably consistent (perhaps even more so than the Holidays, where the hot products may change every year). BTS shopping always calls for very similar, if not the same kinds of products.Therefore, it is important to build customer loyalty so they come back next year. But furthermore, you can also build on your existing loyalty by offering trade-in services, shopping guides and targeted promotions to avoid slashing prices and diminishing your margins.

These are just a few tips on how you can win more consumers this BTS season, but it’s definitely not an exhaustive list. For more tips on how to win over comparison shoppers, sign up for the upcoming webinar, “5 Ways to Win the Price Sensitive Consumer” on September 27, featuring Nikki Baird from RSR Research and Tony Tomanek, a pricing expert from Best Buy. Register today to discover how to make smarter pricing decisions to win more customers in a price transparent world.

About the Author
360pi derives profitable insights from product and pricing big data to help leading omnichannel retailers, etailers, and brand manufacturers compete and win with shoppers. 360pi’s customer base accounts for over $US200 billion in annual product sales and includes Ace Hardware, Build.com, and Overstock.com, along with several Fortune 500 consumer products companies. With the majority of in-store purchases being influenced online, 360pi helps retailers and brands successfully navigate the multi-channel landscape with real-time insight into who is selling what, where, and for how much. Ultimately, 360pi customers make smarter decisions faster to drive increased revenues and margins across all channels.