Top Back-to-School Trends
It’s that time of the year again! Students are preparing to head back to college, and the National Retail Federation has compiled a list of consumer trends to help retailers prepare. Based on their latest Back-to-School and College surveys, conducted by BIGresearch, we bring you an excerpt of some of the most relevant trends, and our take on what they mean for collegiate retailers. To view the full article by Kathy Grannis, NRF spokesperson, click here.
#2: It’s not about the best price. It’s about the best deal.
In 2009, it was all about the Benjamins. This year, we continue to see a trend that emerged during last year’s back-t0-school season: value matters more than price. Instead of looking for the lowest common denominator, parents may be swayed to purchase a laptop if it comes with a free one-year warranty or buy the lunchbox that comes with a matching thermos. Today’s back-to-school shopper is including factors like quality and service when deciding where to shop.
What it means for college stores: While your store may not always beat others on price, quality and service are two aspects collegiate retailers certainly offer. Promote your value by broadcasting the fact that you have little-to-no wait time at checkout or have employees that can help navigate students through the store to find what they’re looking for with ease on your social media. Consider highlighting specific high-quality products on these outlets, as well, to ensure students know they can use your store as a resource.
#6: This year, it all comes down to crunch time.
One of the trends NRF’s Ellen Davis wrote about last year was that “the early bird gets the deal.” Though we’re definitely seeing our share of shoppers who want to start early, many back-to-school shoppers this year are waiting until the last minute. Nearly one-third (31.2%) of parents of K-12th grade students will shop one to two weeks before school starts, up from 24.8% last year. For retailers, it will be important to move merchandise around in the supply chain, when possible, to take advantage of sales peaks as school bells start ringing in different areas of the country.
What it means for college stores: Be prepared for the possibility of rush to extending longer than normal. Keep this in mind when ordering inventory.
#7: Everyone’s a winner.
This year’s back-to-school season has something for everyone. Discounters, who have long touted low prices and one-stop-shopping convenience, will continue to be the most popular shopping destination. Department stores, as mentioned earlier, will see more shoppers than any time in our eight-year survey history. But a decent chunk of shoppers will also be visiting electronics stores, clothing stores and drugstores. The Internet also continues to be a force to be reckoned with, as people who shop in multiple channels will spend 40% more than those who only shop in stores – another reason why retailers should be paying close attention to their websites and mobile apps when thinking about ways to grow their business.
What it means for college stores: Consider adding extra information on your website or mobile apps such as current sales, promotions, or even online coupons. Play up the fact that you offer a variety of products from apparel to convenience items, so first time students know they can count on your store as a one-stop shop.
#10: Coming soon to a phone near you – back-to-school and college shopping.
In the next few weeks, NRF will be releasing brand-new data that evaluates how people will use their smartphones and tablets for back-to-school shopping this year. Let’s just say there are a lot of people who may buy their school or college needs without ever leaving their house – and those who plan to venture to the stores will be bringing their Droids and iPhones with them.
What it means for college stores: Students often have a perception that shopping online is cheaper. Ensure your store meets with that mentality by offering a discount to online shoppers during rush or offering them additional loyalty points. Your store can also capture those shoppers using their mobile devices by exploring mobile capabilities of MBS Systems inSite.
Check out the rest of the Top Ten for even more insight on how you can make the most of fall rush. For ideas on how to best prepare, talk with your MBS Representative.
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