BACK-TO-COLLEGE 2015: Online is the Way to Go!

BACK-TO-COLLEGE 2015: Online is the Way to Go!

While online shopping continues to grow year over year, more college students and their families are spending close to $1,000 on everything from dorm furniture and collegiate gear to school supplies and personal care items.

Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach close to $60 billion. It’s no wonder the back-to-school season is such an important time for businesses. It serves as real test for brands to gauge influence and longevity.

More people are using the Internet to their advantage by doing more comparative shopping online and shopping online more often. Shoppers buying something online is becoming the norm and has seen record highs since 2007.

As the economy continues to play a role in spending decisions, retailers will offer shoppers plenty of ways to save money on their websites, including bundles, free gifts and gift cards with their purchase and even free online shipping on school items, aiming to attract value-focused back-to-college shoppers.

Not surprisingly, smartphones and tablet devices figure prominently in online back-to-college shoppers’ plans. Half of smartphone owners in this group expect to research products and compare prices using this device, while approximately one third will tap their smartphone to look up retailer information, buy products, use apps to shop, and/or redeem coupons. Three in five tablet owners anticipate researching and pricing back-to-college items using their tablet device, half will make purchases, and almost two out five plan to redeem coupons.

So, if you’re a business owner, what strategies should you immediately implement in order to engage these back-to-college online shoppers?

Start Promoting Early!

The back-to-college conversation is becoming more and more perpetual throughout the year. College-bound students start connecting with their fellow peers as early as February and March, discussing everything from college acceptances in early spring to topics such as roommates, room assignments and orientation in June, July and beyond.

These students socialize about everything! From the exact size of their beds to how they should be accessorizing their rooms. Students would rather turn to their peers to find out how to best prepare and what they really need as opposed to taking the information from a college welcoming kit.

Social Media Campaign!

If college students are among your targeted customer base, then Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are three of the most important platforms for you to engage with your audience. Get socializing!

Mobile Website!

Two out of three students access social sites from their smartphone. Uploading photos via mobile devices is steadily increasing for the benefit of shopper decision-making. Mobile devices are quite simply enabling people to engage in a dialogue and commentary about the world around them. Retailers need to ensure that their sites and branched off site platforms are optimized for mobile devices. Ensure that whatever marketing message you’re trying to convey to your audience works well on mobile devices, and that customers have the resources necessary to easily spread the word about back-to-college ideas and solutions that they find.