Retailers that want to get the inside scoop this back-to-school (BTS) season can hit the books to get extra credit with shoppers. Our survey of 1,200 parents of K-12 children shows that while total spending remains flat, there are big shifts in consumer trends. Consumers are expected to spend more than double when shopping in-store, and we found three key takeaways that can help retailers attract shoppers this BTS season.
Attracting the Undecided Shopper
The “undecided” back-to-school shopper — a segment representing nearly $5.4 billion — tends to be highly receptive to messaging when making their decision to shop online or in-store. Retailers should consider these findings when developing strategies to target this large customer segment. Undecided shoppers are expected to:
- purchase from online retailers that offer free shipping (68 percent);
- shop throughout the summer to take advantage of deals (65 percent); and
- research online before purchasing in-store (61 percent).
Enhancing Sales With Brick and Click
Retailers that keep shoppers happy by providing complementary online and in-store experiences will likely have better luck attracting customers. Consumers respond well to consistent promotions and messaging such as discounts for sharing with friends or ordering online with in-store pick up. More than two-thirds of respondents surveyed prefer retailers whose online presence flows smoothly into their in-store experience. Another 56 percent research online before buying in-store, giving retailers an opportunity to introduce promotions to shoppers before they come in-store. Promotions that bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences can help keep customers coming back. Shoppers surveyed said their No. 1 use of social media is to find out about sales and promotions. Retailers can take advantage of tailored social media campaigns to help drive traffic to stores.
Studying the Shift
With today’s technology-based education systems, there's often less need for traditional school supplies. We saw this reflected in our survey findings, which indicate a shift toward more spending on clothing and accessories before children head back to school. Mass merchants can prepare for this shift by stocking up on popular clothing and accessory products this BTS season. Clothing and accessories are expected to account for 55 percent of families’ spending — up 10 percent from last year — pulling primarily from school supplies and computers.
Retailers looking to build better relationships with their customers this BTS season can keep in mind this cheat sheet to help get shoppers spending.
Rod Sides is the vice chairman and U.S. retail wholesale and distribution practice leader at Deloitte LLP.