According to the calendar, there’s still several weeks left in summer—but for most kids, the first day of school marks the end of the season. For parents, this means it’s time for back-to-school shopping—and for many retailers it’s the start of one of the most important shopping periods of the year. If you’re one of these retailers, it’s probably too late to prepare. However, the lessons of this season can be applied in a few weeks during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday shopping period.
Here are 10 insights and articles useful not only for back-to-school shopping, but also major shopping periods in general:
1. As shoppers are faced with more choices, they are increasingly turning to the web
In this extensive report from Think with Google, the search giant uses its mountains of data to highlight some important product, shopping, and buying trends for this season—all of which point to important behaviors we might expect during the holiday season at the end of the year.
2. A shopping season represents only a narrow period of a longer decision journey
When, exactly is the back-to-school shopping season? Research is showing that while the peak for purchasing falls sometime in August, the relevant consumer decision journey spans a period of six—or even 12—months.
Read the rest: Back-to-school shopping knows no season
3. Back-to-school shopping is growing—and kids drive it
Spending during the back-to-school shopping period increased 16 percent this year—and young consumers drive much of that activity. Understanding this is critical for developing targeted, relevant experiences for ecommerce sites and social media campaigns.
Read the rest: Ecommerce for back-to-school focused on youth spending power
4. Consumers are increasingly focused on electronic devices…but that’s not their only product need
If you’re wondering what’s important to student shoppers, this report from eMarketer can provide some answers. This year, spending on electronic devices topped all other categories, representing nearly double the expenditure of the second place item, textbooks.
Read the rest: Kids head back to school with shiny new devices
5. High volume shopping periods present unique customer needs and mentalities
High volume shopping periods present several unique consumer mindsets for which retailers must prepare. First, there are consumers that have initiated a “purchase chain” in which the commitment of a first, essential, purchase generates momentum leading to several subsequent purchases. Then there is the urgency of needing a forgotten item. Or the need for a balance between shipping speed and value. And the list goes on. Optimizing for unique situations such as these is essential for any major shopping season.
6. Simple tests are perfect for high-volume periods
These simple test ideas could be used any time during the year—but they become particularly relevant during major shopping periods. Why? Often during these periods development help is limited or the site is under a “code freeze”—meaning only tests requiring relatively light lifting will be possible.
7. Shopping happens online and in-store simultaneously
Market research has found that a significant majority—90 percent—of back-to-school shoppers will visit stores to evaluate products or avoid shipping fees. However, 80 percent of respondents in the same study said they would use a mobile device to extend their research—even while in the aisles of another store. This showrooming and webrooming behavior represents an important opportunity for ecommerce retailers during any season.
Read the rest: Nine out of 10 back-to-school shoppers will hit the bricks
8. Integrating in-store analytics with online shopping data is critical
For ecommerce retailers, capturing detailed user behavior metrics is second nature. But there is a huge blind spot in the data—even for many highly advanced data-driven organizations. This dark area is the important activity that takes place in physical stores. For too long, digital and physical shopping behavior has been pushed into separate silos, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Read the rest: How in-store analytics align with online
9. Brand experience is essential in a competitive marketplace
Gone are the days when a well-timed coupon could carry a brand through a shopping season. In today’s crowded marketplace, retailers must cultivate deep, authentic relationships with consumers to cultivate loyalty—and the shopping experience, both online and off, is central to this process.
Read the rest: Top 10 back-to-school retailers and e-tailers
10. Embrace the redesign, but use data to do it right
Major shopping seasons always spark calls for major—often-wholesale—site redesigns. Such dramatic, unmeasured changes make analysts and testing managers nervous—for good reason. Unfortunately, redesigns are trains that can rarely be stopped. Instead of fighting the inevitable, it’s important to ensure the process is as data-informed as possible—and serves as a platform for future efforts.
Read the rest: 5 ways to be data-driven during a site redesign
Whether you’re racing to capture some residual back-to-school traffic or planning for the holiday shopping season, these insights can help make the most of your sudden surge in shoppers.