Posts tagged Back-to-school trends
Inside Briar Cliff University’s bookstore are items that every student will need, such as textbooks, backpacks and notepads.
And then, there are some unexpected yet useful things, like energy drinks, extension cords, even laundry detergent.
But there are plenty of stuff you’d never dream of seeing inside a college bookstore.
“These tutus are some of our fastest selling items,” BCU bookstore manager Nancy Watson explained while showing off a ready supply of blue-and-yellow frills.
Um … aren’t tutus the things that ballerinas wear?
Well, yes, but these “Spirit” tutus are meant to be worn on one’s head or arms during sport events.
“The kids love ‘em because the tutus come in (BCU’s) school colors,” she said.
Another way to show school spirit is with a Briar Cliff Chargers “Number One” foam hand and jersey sleeve.
“This is actually pretty cool,” observed BCU senior Sherin Parambaloth as she tried on the blue foam hand for size.
As much fun as it is to cheer on your team, college is, of course, a place of study. Watson had plenty of things to get students into the Zen swing of things.
“A Buddha Board is based on the Zen concept of living in the moment,” she said, demonstrating on a newfangled erase message board. “You simply write on the surface with water. Once the water evaporates, your writing will magically disappear, leaving you with a clean slate and a clean state of mind.”
If that’s too existential for you, Watson also has boards to help your back after a long day in front of a computer.
“I bet this will be as popular with instructors as it is with students,” she said of the multicolor Backjoys.
The newest item in the Morningside College bookstore isn’t quite as ergonomically comfortable as its crosstown rival but it’s much more environmentally friendly.
“A Bend-A-Bottle is a flexible bottle that can be folded up in a backpack when not in use,” said Morningside College bookstore manager Duane Benson. “It’s a space saver but, since it’s reusable, it’s also great for the environment.”
Both Benson and Watson said college stores have evolved to include items other than books.
“Many students don’t have transportation,” Watson said. “That’s why there is a demand for many different types of merchandise.”
That includes apparel, often times from such well-known brands as Under Armour and Hurley.
“We are constantly looking for items that will trip the trigger for our students,” Watson said, adding that she frequently asks the opinions of student bookstore workers regarding new product line.
“Trends are constantly changing,” she said. “But we want to stay on the cutting edge.”
How does your store stay ahead of student trends? What hot new products are you carrying this fall? Tell us in the comments section!
Your store may find a few extra competitors on campus this fall. Check out how big retail brands are planning to target your students, so that your store can form a defensive strategy,
U.S. electronics chains Best Buy and RadioShack have spent years trying to court students of all ages in the second-biggest selling season of the year, but this semester they are skipping high school and going straight to college.
The two retailers are focusing this back-to-school year mostly on older students heading to college who are more likely to spend money on pricey items such as laptops and tablets.
“We found out that really for us, it is the student that is just finishing high school and about to go into college that really, really matters,” Drew Panayiotou, Best Buy’s senior vice president of U.S. marketing, told Reuters. “We actually decided that we are not going to think about back-to-school, we are going to think about back-to-college.”
This shift comes a year after Best Buy and other retailers reported weak sales of technology products during the back-to-school shopping season, which is second only to the Christmas holiday season in importance for electronics retailers.
The new strategy means more marketing will be focused around college campuses as students gear up for the August and September start of classes.
Best Buy’s marketing campaign features real students who used technology available to them to invent something while they were still in college – much like Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. The company calls them “dorm-room innovators,” Panayiotou said.
Best Buy will launch a Facebook application that will allow students to create a dorm-room wish list.
ALL SUPPLIES, ALL THE TIME
It will also have “buy boards” on 30 big university campuses, which are essentially billboards with product photos and codes that students can scan, using a smartphone. This will let students quickly order items and have them delivered to the campus or to a nearby Best Buy store.
“We are taking the store now to the campus,” Panayiotou said.
Best Buy could use a back-to-school sales boost this year. The world’s largest consumer electronics chain has posted declines in same-store sales in seven of the last eight quarters and is also searching for a new CEO.
While analysts said the strategy by Best Buy and RadioShack to focus on college students who buy more expensive items made sense, they questioned how successful that tactic could be with other retailers such as Apple Inc’s Apple stores and online retailers like Amazon.com already doing the same.
“It’s certainly the right market. That’s certainly the area they need to focus on, but it’s a competitive market at the same time,” Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said.
In fact, college students looking to save money may be more likely to price shop on the Internet instead of purchasing at Best Buy.
“If you are a college kid, you are looking for the lowest price and you are going to find it online,” Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at NBG Productions, said.
GO FOR CONVENIENCE
RadioShack plans to play the convenience card to convince college students to choose its products over mass merchants including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and office supply stores.
Paul Okimoto, vice president of marketing at RadioShack, called back-to-college shoppers the company’s “sweet spot.”
Last year, trade group National Retail Federation estimated “back-to-campus” shoppers spent about $46 billion during the period, with about 25 percent of that on consumer electronics, Okimoto said.
Based on that research, the retailer has decided to focus on 700 campuses that have a RadioShack store located within three miles. The company also plans to roll out special offers via social media targeting 18 high-profile campus locations in Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
RadioShack is offering college students and faculty 10 percent off on an array of products from phone chargers to WiFi routers to headphones, adding that the company was still in the final stages of planning other deals.
“We know that our consumers are deal conscious and coupon focused,” Okimoto said.
The following article, Consumers looking to cut corners with their 2012 back-to-school budgets, was written by Kathy Grannis, NRF spokesperson, for Retail’s Big Blog.
Every year it’s the same thing. Come mid-June, when discussions of back-to-school pop up in the news, in stores and even here at NRF, the conversation always goes something like this: ”Back-to-school? Kids JUST got out of school!” – to which I reply, “August will be here before you know it!” Sadly, yes, August will be here before we know it (does that mean the holiday season will too! Yes.) Much to their children’s chagrin, that means that there are already millions of parents planning their back-to-school shopping lists and destinations, plan-of-attack and, of course, their budgets.
Last year, the average person spent about $603 on everything from school supplies and apparel to electronics and footwear. When it comes to consumers’ intentions to spend this summer, the economy has emerged as the big old fat elephant in the room. Though we’ve seen 23 months of consecutive year-over-year retail sales growth, consumer spending has noticeably slowed and unemployment remains stubbornly high. Reacting to this, businesses have also tempered their hiring as well.
To further examine how the state of the U.S. economy will impact Americans’ back-to-school and back-to-college spending plans, we reached out to our friends at BIGinsight for their, well…insights.
According to BIGinsight’s June monthly consumer survey, 80.4 percent of people with school-aged children say the economy will impact their spending plans. Compared to July 2011, when NRF released its last back-to-school/college spending surveys, that’s down from 86.1 percent. College students and their families aren’t far off – 79.8 percent said the economy will impact their college-related spending plans.
Overall, it looks like the Internet is where the back-to-school shopper will be. Offering convenience and cost-saving opportunities, 31.0 percent of shoppers with children in K-12 say they will do more comparative shopping online, up from 29.8 percent last year. Nearly 17 percent said they would shop online more, up from 15.3 percent last year and 12.3 percent the year prior.
It also looks like college-bound students will have to get used to used books (bright side: they already have notes in the margins!). Two out of five (22.2%) with college-aged children said they would share or borrow textbooks instead of buying them. The survey also found college students and their families will shop online more often (19.6% vs. 18.8% last year) and will use coupons more often as well (34.0% vs. 32.7% last year.)
What can college stores take away from these findings? For starters, having an e-commerce option is more important than ever. Both students and families are looking to purchase online and comparing prices with other retailers before making a decision. MBS Systems inSite offers both a robust web store platform as well as a price comparison feature that can help your store stay competitive; talk to your MBS Systems Sales Consultant for more information.
With upfront savings on their minds, students across the country are demanding textbook rental. But, many college stores are hesitant to offer the option because of the extra labor and financial risk involved. Wichita State University Bookstore, who has offered rental for the past three semesters, was definitely no exception.
“We were very nervous!” admitted Lisa Fitzsimmons, course materials manager. “But, it was becoming such a popular choice that we knew we had to give it a chance. It was important to offer our students another affordable option.”
According to Fitzsimmons, the store’s biggest concern was the logistics of implementing a program.
“We were concerned about the effort it would take to get rental up and running both on the front end, of offering the books through our system, and the back end when students returned their books at the end of the semester,” she said. “It’s one thing to see or hear about how something will work, but it’s always different to actually experience it.”
Based on their apprehensions, the store decided to start small by renting only 5 titles in the fall of 2010 for some of their larger core classes where the option would have the most impact. After seeing how the process worked, however, they wished that they had rented more!
“It was much easier than any of us originally thought!” Fitzsimmons described. “The process wasn’t difficult at all and we were very relieved that the reality was much better than our expectations.”
In fact, the following semester, the store offered 125 titles for rent, demonstrating their confidence in the program. After that, rental at Wichita State has only continued to grow.
In the fall of 2011, the store took advantage of MBS Rental’s non-serialized option, which significantly reduced their labor and allowed them to expand the program yet again.
“It was an absolute night and day difference,” she explained. “Before, we would spend so much time placing stickers on our books, but that completely eliminated with non-serialized rental. Plus, we no longer have to worry about running out of inventory; we just assign the book as a rental, put it out there, and go on with our day. The reduced workload has been so valuable to us!”
Non-serialized rental saved time for the students too, with the ability to Rent at POS.
“We used to have a big line because students would have to stop and fill out their rental contract separately before checking out,” she said. “With Rent at POS, we’ve been able to greatly improve our processing time for rentals. Now, students just have to wait in one line and we print their contract directly on their receipt!”
Since their transition to non-serialized rental, Wichita State University Bookstore has seen increased use of their rental program, proving its popularity among students.
“This past semester, we rented approximately 6,000 textbooks which, on a campus of 15,000, means we’re renting to nearly half of the student population,” she explained. “They’re so excited to have the option of renting their textbooks and love how easy the process is; it’s been very successful!”
To stores who are considering starting a rental program, Fitzsimmons has one piece of advice: “Jump into it!”
“Enlist the help of everyone in your store and put your heads together to create a program that best meets your needs. Having a used book and/or systems provider who already has a great process in place made it much easier for us!” she said. “We were apprehensive at first and drug our feet, but it’s been a very good addition to the store. Especially once we converted to non-serialized rental; it’s been a breeze!”
Want more information on how MBS Rental works? Learn all the details here. Do you offer rental in your store? Share your experience in the comment section below!
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.
The following informative article offers a great perspective on upcoming trends that apply to this year’s fall rush. The information was published on InternetRetailer.com and was written by Thad Rueter, Senior Editor. Click here to view the article.
Smartphones and social networks will play prime roles in back-to-school shopping this year, according to a new survey from Deloitte LLP.
The consulting and accounting firm says that 64% of consumers with web-enabled smartphones will use the devices for back-to-school shopping; 61% will use their mobile devices to find the best prices for school products. 43% of consumers will use their smartphones to download discounts, coupons and sales information; 37% to locate a retail store; 29% to receive product information; and 25% to access a retailer’s web site.
“Price-conscious and time-constrained, consumers are navigating virtual and physical storefronts to get the information they want quickly and easily,” says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and Deloitte’s retail & distribution sector leader. “Retailers need to respond with an integrated experience. In short, they must unite the store with their online and mobile channels to enable consumers to easily access product availability, promotions and information.”
Deloitte based its findings on surveys conducted between July 5 and July 11 of 1,000 parents of children in kindergarten through the 12th grade. The survey offered no historical data about smartphone use during the back-to-school shopping season.
But Deloitte did find that more consumers will turn to social networks this year for back-to-school shopping. 35% of parents who took part in the survey plan to use social networking sites during their shopping, up from 29% last year. Most parents—69%—will use social media to sniff out promotions, while 44% will use the likes of Facebook to browse products. 28% will seek out product reviews and recommendations via social media. 12% will watch product or retailer videos, while 9% say they will use social networks to post comments and reviews about back-to-school products.
To stay up to speed on these new back-to-school trends, here are some of MBS’ suggestions:
•Integrate QR Codes onto shelf-talkers or in-store signs with additional product information. Learn how.
•Place price comparison information on your inSite e-commerce page through the MBS-Verba integration.
•Talk with your inSite Client Representative about enabling the newly enhanced mobile capabilities of your inSite page.
•Ensure your location information is easily searchable on websites such as Yelp.