Back-to-school shoppers love deals. Especially since the arrival of Amazon Prime Day in 2015, customers expect considerable discounts this time of year, and retailers know that offering deals is an inescapable part of competing for b-t-s shoppers.
Many retailers wonder if this deep discounting is a smart long-term strategy. They know that deals bring in b-t-s traffic, but do those shoppers stick around and keep spending the rest of the year? The answer to that question can be yes — if retailers leverage promotions strategically.
Expand Deals Throughout the Season
The b-t-s shopping season has been under way since Prime Day commenced on July 15, but customers are still very much in deal-seeking mode. In fact, our recent Prime Day and b-t-s survey found that 69 percent of consumers said price is the biggest determining factor in the items they buy for b-t-s. And 71 percent are willing to put off purchasing an item until they find a deal for it.
That means there’s still plenty of spending to be done as we head toward the conclusion of the season during Labor Day weekend. Retailers can capture consumer attention on those last-minute supplies and cool weather items that they still have not purchased with end of season and new fall promotions.
It’s important to remember, though, that savvy consumers are actively seeking deals even between the traditional top shopping days. So don’t rely just on a Labor Day push for b-t-s deals. You want to build a reputation with consumers as a consistent source of great deals at all times.
Bring Mobile Shoppers Into Brick-and-Mortar Stores
B-t-s season also brings opportunities to turn digital browsers into brick-and-mortar purchasers — and return shoppers. More than half of retailers say they plan to utilize geo-targeted mobile offers and promotions for in-store deals. This is a powerful way to reach consumers, since almost three-quarters (or 73 percent) use their mobile devices to search for items to purchase. That number is almost one-quarter higher among Millennial and Generation Z parents. Digitally savvy retailers can move seamlessly between these channels with features such as in-store stock check, buy online and pick up in-store, and free shipping to store locations — all of which may incentivize shoppers to browse their products both online and in person.
Remember Parents Who Shop for Themselves
Items for kids get all the attention this time of year. But more than half of parents report scooping up some items for themselves while they’re out picking up b-t-s supplies. This is an often overlooked area for offering deals and is a great opportunity to snag customer loyalty before heading into the busy fall and holiday season. By providing discounts on items parents will want to buy from themselves, retailers can position themselves as more than a b-t-s resource.
Drive Interest in Loyalty Programs
Finally, retailers can take advantage of shoppers’ desire for b-t-s deals to boost sign-ups for their loyalty programs, which, in turn, encourages repeat business. For example, consider offering exclusive deals or discount codes for loyalty program members or even early access to sales. Online, retailers can create exclusive content available only to logged-in users. Further, this relationship can continue to be built out during the post b-t-s season with early access to fall sales, special early holiday promotions and more.
In the home stretch of the b-t-s shopping season, these ideas can help retailers bring deal-savvy shoppers in the door while also creating an experience that will keep them coming back during the rest of the year.
Michelle Skupin is senior director of marketing and communications at RetailMeNot.