10 Back-to-School E-Commerce Tips and Shopping Trends

Aug 5, 2022 8:00:00 AM
7 min read

It’s that time of year again when kids of every age pack up their summer gear in exchange for backpacks full of snacks and school supplies. It’s also a great opportunity for e-commerce stores to gain additional revenue. 

calculatorAccording to the National Retail Federation, total back-to-school spending for 2022 is expected to match last year’s record high of $37 billion—and that doesn’t even include those returning to college. Their expected spending? A staggering $71 billion! That’s a lot of cash—and a lot of students in need of supplies. So, how can you compel shoppers to choose your online store over others this school season, beyond having the right inventory? Here are 10 tips for e-commerce businesses to prepare their sites for back-to-school, based on 2021’s shopping trends.

1. Get Your Website User-Ready

It takes less than three seconds for a website visitor to generate a first impression. This often determines whether a shopper will buy or not. 

Optimize your site by checking page speed and content load times and easy-to-find pages for back-to-school supplies, using tools like Google Analytics and Google Page Speed Insights. This will help busy parents and students rushing to find what they need without having to wait for slow pages, and create a better user experience (UX) that could bring them back for future purchases. Ensuring your website not only features what they need, but also provides a seamless user experience is key to getting your slice of the school supply pie.

Related: 5 Fundamentals of E-Commerce Customer Experience

2. Make Your Store Mobile-Friendly

Responsive mobile phonesLast year, mobile e-commerce sales exceeded $360 billion and will continue to increase well into the future. Remember, over half of your online shoppers are using their mobile devices to make their purchases, which means smaller screens to everything your store has to offer. When optimizing your website for back-to-school season, make sure to test your web pages and content to ensure it’s mobile-friendly. This should include everything from images loading properly to easy-to-read product details to functioning CTA buttons. 

3. Personalize Your Content

Nowadays, delivering a customer experience that feels catered to their shopping needs is practically expected. Gen Zers, in particular, love personalized products (74% to be exact), followed closely by Millennials. Since a large number of shoppers preparing for the new school year fall into these two categories, it only makes sense to appeal to them as much as possible. Some ways to achieve this include:

  • Personalize products every student would find useful, regardless of their study focus or interests. This includes highlighting items they’ll need anyway, like laptop or phone cases, bags, or notebooks. 
  • Do the opposite and customize items into specific categories, such as ‘Athletics’ or ‘Studying’ that include a range of products that target these specific audiences. 
  • On your home page, feature product recommendations for top selling school supplies, back-to-school fashion trends, or even remote learning setups. 

Tip: Support your personalization with product reviews and/or ratings to further shoppers. Studies show that 90% of customers read reviews before buying a product.

4. Offer Back-to-School Promotions

man being wowed by engaging messageThe average family will spend $864 on school supplies this year, while college students are expected to spend close to $1,200. With the cost of school supplies constantly increasing, your customers are always looking for a good deal. To draw more shoppers to your site, consider adding one or more cost-saving promotions. Some great options include:

  • Flash sales
  • Limited time sales
  • Bundle deals
  • Promo codes
  • Buy 1, Get 1 offers
  • Free shipping on purchases over a set amount 

Regardless of what promotion you offer, or how many, having at least one will entice budget-conscious parents and students to buy more off their back-to-school list at your store.

5. Provide Engaging Content

You have fast page load times, personalized content, and great deals, so what’s next? Making sure it’s all engaging. This involves the right amount of copy and images, presented in the most appealing way.

When writing to your audience, remember, the goal is to get your shoppers to see the value of the products you are selling. You can achieve this by:

  • Keeping content concise but detailed
  • Providing product descriptions that are well-written and free of grammatical errors
  • Using bullets to break copy up so it’s easier to read
  • Adding titles that speak directly to the products you are selling

To showcase your products, always include images – the more, the better! Just make sure they are high resolution and showcase the product in the best way possible. Adding product sliders or other tools is a great way to present items, and can be used as added product recommendations to help increase average order values.

Related: 5 Methods to Increase Average Order Value

6. Make Checkout Process As Easy As Possible

Women browsing with shopping cart

For a busy shopper, nothing is more frustrating than a complicated checkout that requires endless steps or having to type in information repeatedly. There are a number of reasons why shoppers abandon their carts, causing e-commerce sites to lose $3 billion a year

The good news is that there are ways to improve your checkout, so shoppers complete their purchases and even return in the future. Some helpful tips include:

  • Don’t make them have to register for an account first
  • Offer guest checkout
  • Eliminate the need to key in the same info more than once
  • Bonus points if you offer free shipping!

7. Offer Free Shipping

We’ve mentioned it twice already, and that’s because shipping charges are the most common reason shoppers skip out on making a purchase. 

Whether you offer promotions or not, one of the best ways to get your shoppers past the checkout finish line is by offering free shipping on their purchase, especially during a time when spending is necessary, and budgets are tighter than usual. If you can’t afford to offer free shipping on any purchase, compromise by lowering the minimum purchase price so more people can take advantage of the offer.

Tip: Highlight your free shipping offer on your home page, social media and on any back-to-school email campaigns you may have (it makes a great subject line).

8. Create an Email Campaign

Letters being deliveredGetting the message out there about your back-to-school products is imperative to landing some sales. Segmented email campaigns to relevant email lists are an efficient way to update your customers on special offers, feature products, and more, while guaranteeing that the content is relevant to them. Recent studies found that 59% of users were influenced by marketing emails and that 80% will open a welcome email, generating as much as 10x more clicks than other emails.

Another great way to use personalized email templates is for cart abandoners. By sending back-to-school shoppers an email reminder about items left in their carts, you can potentially earn a 30% rate in recovered sales. That’s a lot of extra pencils and paper!

Tip: Send emails with varying subject lines, in case shoppers don’t see or open your email the first time. 

9. Make Your Social Media Presence Known

Like emails, having a strong social media game can help draw attention to your back-to-school products and any promotions you may be offering. 

Last year alone, the global social commerce market was worth over $490 billion. This number is projected to grow even more this year, so amping up your presence is essential in getting shoppers’ attention. Some ways you can appeal to the back-to-school audience are:

  • Targeted social ads that feature back-to-school products and offers
  • Instagram stories that promote your store for back-to-school shopping
  • Including links to your social media pages on your website and in your email newsletter
  • Partnering with influencers to recommend your products on their social pages
  • Offering a back-to-school social media contest to create added interest

Whatever option(s) you decide, make sure to check your comments regularly so your followers know you listen and care.

10. Plan, Plan, and Plan Ahead 

Last but certainly not least, in order for you to succeed with your back-to-school promotions, you need to have a plan in place to begin with. School is a constant that isn’t going away any time soon, so laying out your back-to-school marketing strategy well in advance is key to having enough time to execute it properly. 

From budgets and timelines to inventory and website optimization, to special promotions and paid advertising, having all your back-to-school ducks in a row early will set you up for post-school-season success. 

Class Dismissed

School is coming soon, so get your online store ready for the rush now and give shoppers a reason to return beyond back-to-School Season. 

Boost Your Back-to-School Conversions

Running man with coffeeGranify has all the tools and know-how to ensure your website performs at its peak and give back-to-school shoppers the personalized experience they want to convert them into loyal customers.

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