While off-to-college shoppers may prefer to procrastinate and leave their purchases to the last minute, online retailers need to prepare strategy and sales campaigns months in advance. As back-to-school is the second largest shopping event of the year after the holidays, it pays to have your offerings in place in good time.
Total spending for K-12 schools and college combined reached almost $83 billion last year. Parents with young people heading to college as well as undergraduate and graduate students purchasing for themselves said that they planned to spend an average $942.17 each.
What do you need for an effective off-to-college campaign?
Keep in mind that budgets are limited and students generally cannot afford to splurge on necessary items. They also may not have a good deal of time to shop or could be uncertain about what they will need.
As part of your strategy, try to be as helpful as possible, provide useful tips, and offer special discounts. Here are several steps you can take to attract these young customers:
- Set up a designated off-to-college section on your website
A good way to attract potential customers is to set up a separate section on your website with all your off-to-school items and promotions. Make sure to insert a banner on the home page featuring special offers and send buyers directly to the relevant page.
- Boost sales on social media
Social media is a prime location to boost promotions for college purchases because that is where most of your customers are spending their time. Use Instagram to show colorful photos of your display and interact with potential customers on Facebook. Make sure your mobile app is up to par and responsive, with exciting images of your products. Be creative and prepare videos on how to set up an attractive dorm room affordably.
- Offer student discounts
Many businesses offer special student discounts on a wide range of products. Discounts can range anywhere between 15 and 50%. There are various ways to verify that the individual requesting the discount is actually a student. If you offer these customers discounts on a regular basis they are likely to return for repeat shopping.
- Provide free and convenient shipping options
It’s important to offer free and fast shipping, as well as flexible pick-up policies. You should also enable customers to shop now but deliver later. Some stores offer “shop online and pick up in store” possibilities with a significant discount. Target provides a drive up option which enables customers to shop for items from the store’s app and have a store team member deliver them directly to the purchaser’s vehicle. Amazon, for example, has lockers on or near campuses for easy pick ups at convenient locations..
- Put together a checklist and enable reorders
Set up a college checklist with popular items students usually purchase and display pictures of useful products that you sell such as dorm room necessities. Target goes so far as to offer a college registry option with special discounts. To ensure repeat customers, send out reorder reminders and offer special discounts and rapid delivery on group orders.
In order to stand out, you need to offer unique rewards and special features that will attract young people to your website. Perhaps you should try to put yourself in their sneakers and mull a bit about what you would want if you were setting off for college.