Christmas in July?

Monday, July 29th, 2013
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Many merchants, and justifiably so, tend to focus mainly on the gift giving holidays throughout the year: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s day and even Halloween. However, there is one shopping season that experts quantify as the second biggest of the year. As a kid, hearing “Back to School” was as gut wrenching an expression as “eat your vegetables”, but for online retailers it’s music to the ears.

The National Retail Federation estimates that parents of school and college aged children will spend over $70 billion on back to school supplies by the end of summer. Given the current economic climate and considering the rising cost of college for those with older children, shoppers are expected to spend slightly less than years past, making this back to school retail season as competitive as ever. So, as children across the country start trading in their beach balls for book reports, it’s time for merchants to get serious too. Here are a couple pointers to get started.

Incentives: Shoppers are cost conscious, especially back to school parents with large families. The more competitive your prices, the more likely prospective customers will buy from you. Consider a ‘Back to School’ coupon or discount initiative with price tiers and dynamic cart messaging: to encourage larger order totals. The same can be done for shipping. You might even explore the idea of a social sale to incentivize shoppers to spread the word to friends and other families or even kick it up a notch and use a program like Referral Candy to really get the message across:

Marketing: Quality products: Check. Competitive prices: Check. Discount incentives: Check. Now it’s time to spread the word (and enable your customers to spread the word). If you haven’t by now, then you’re way past due on activating sharing tools through social media. Offering Facebook Like, Twitter, Pinterest and Tell A Friend options at the product level empowers your customers to network on your behalf.  Similarly, post-order sharing allows buyers to publish their recent purchase on social media for all their friends and followers to see. Email blasts with coupons and others offerings as well as your own social media campaign are efficient and cost effective ways to communicate deals with existing customers. As merchants often do during more traditional holiday seasons, consider creating a category specifically geared toward back to school products and link right to it from your homepage as well as some featured products front and center. For many parents, back to school shopping has already begun, so it’s never too soon to pack up the leftover fireworks and capitalize on this huge, annual opportunity.

Nexternal clients can activate social sharing buttons in the Settings>Compatible Software section of their Order Management System. For advice on Dynamic Cart Messaging, Bulk Emailing or other featured covered above, please reach your dedicated account manager.

Chris is a Senior Account Executive at Nexternal and has been with the company since 2005. Before joining Nexternal he worked in the cloud-based educational software industry. Chris enjoys establishing new relationships with online merchants and working closely with those clients as they grow.