It's early September and kids in the U.S. are making their way back to school. For retailers, this time of the year requires months of planning for marketing campaigns, advertisements, discounts, order fulfillment, increased web traffic and much more.
With every retailer and brand bringing their "A" game to win over consumers, how does one stand out from the crowd? Becker's School Supplies, an 89-year old B-to-B retailer specializing in educational supplies and instructional materials, revamped its website and content marketing plan ahead of the busy back-to-school (BTS) shopping season in order to compete with the big players in the market — e.g., Amazon.com, Staples, Office Depot, etc.
In this interview with Marilyn Moran, digital marketing specialist, and Rob Bonczkiewicz, marketing/e-commerce manager, learn about Becker's new content strategy, responsive website, and how it all comes together to help the retailer take on Amazon.
Total Retail: Back-to-school is a busy time for Becker’s — how has launching a responsive website helped during this season?
Rob Bonczkiewicz: We not only launched a responsive site, but since we needed to touch virtually every page on our website, we took the opportunity to refresh the site as well. It had been four years (almost to the day) since we first launched on the Workarea platform, so it was time to do so. We know that making the site responsive will specifically cater to those users viewing our site on mobile devices, and while we’re heavily B-to-B, our industry isn't that much different than others with many, many users now accessing our site on mobile. The numbers are still coming in, so it’s a bit premature to do a full assessment, but the initial numbers are looking strong. We know it was a good move especially since Google is pushing a mobile-first index very soon.
TR: What results do you see from having partnered with Workarea?
RB: We’ve been working with Workarea for about four-and-a-half years now, and have felt from the beginning that it not only offered and supported our technology needs, but understood e-commerce design that sells. Also, the Workarea team had the relevant experience in the B-to-B e-commerce area, which is our primary focus, so we were able to flatten the learning curve we may have had with another platform provider. With that said, they’ve taken the time to understand our unique needs and deliver a flexible, custom solution that keeps us current and ensures success in the future.
TR: You also launched a blog — what's the strategy behind that?
RB: Becker's blog is a place we can reinforce our brand position and tout our legacy as a leader in early childhood education. Regularly updating our website with fresh, relevant content that resonates with our audience is key for us in that endeavor. In addition to writing blog posts in-house, we’ve brought on several guest bloggers who are respected educators in the early learning space to contribute.
We envision the blog becoming a knowledge base and community space for educators to network and connect with our internal experts. Finally, blog posts are marketable assets we can use right now and down the road. The blog is a part of a larger content marketing initiative, which includes growing our social media presence.
TR: What are the business benefits of creating content/having a blog?
Marilyn Moran: The blog is an appropriate place to highlight our expertise and promote our leadership in the industry. Through blog posts, we can connect with our site visitors and customers more meaningfully and give them a reason to return to our website on a frequent basis. We're also aware there are SEO benefits to adding blog content to a website. Boosting our website’s ranking in the search engines and driving more traffic to the site are the objectives of our blog strategy.
TR: How does the blog help you better compete against Amazon?
MM: Anybody can go to Amazon, but it's not a leader in early learning. Blog content can help us shine a spotlight on our proven authority and long-standing reputation as experts in the space. It also helps draw attention to our outstanding customer service. We always want our customers to feel as if they can come to us, get an answer quickly and feel completely satisfied with the experience. Building and sustaining trust and loyalty from our customer base is paramount to all that we do, and we know the blog will help accomplish that.
TR: Why are you concentrating on improving the e-commerce experience?
MM: User experience! Our top goal is to make it easier for customers to solve their problems. Our customers are busy, and we feel it’s our job to help them find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible, providing a great shopping experience while doing so. We completely retooled our taxonomy, improved our on-site search, and added content to various areas of the site, all in an effort to provide a seamless experience for the user. Also, being primarily B-to-B, we continue to improve functionality specific to the needs of this type of customer.