Online Back-to-College Shoppers Spend More on Merchandise
Research in the E-Commerce fields of SEO, Pricing, Competitive Practices, Customer Preference and Trends can be the most valuable weapon in your online business’ arsenal targeting higher sales and return on investment.
However, accurate and dependable research costs time and money. That’s why Shop.org Research Archive, with dozens of timely and detailed reports offered for free is a great resource for all levels of E-Commerce: from start-up online stores to established businesses trying to stay competitive amid the blur of advertising and gimmicks.
A new study just released by the archive targets the lucrative market of back-to-college consumers and utilizing Social Media to reach them: 2012 Social & Mobile Commerce Consumer Study
Socialize your mobile site and marketing.
The MRY study found also that, “…67% access social sites from their smartphone, [and] 75% upload photos via mobile devices,” highlighting the seamless integration of social and mobile for college students today.
For shopping purposes specifically, Shop.org’s 2012 Social & Mobile Commerce Consumer Study found that 3 out of 10 consumers aged 18 to 34 years old have taken a picture of a product, sent pictures of products to friends, texted or called friends about products, and/or searched for a nearby store. With mobile devices enabling a running dialogue and commentary about (and with) the world around them, retailers should ensure that their sites and / or specialized micro-sites are optimized for mobile devices, that marketing messages work well on mobile devices, and that customers have the tools to easily spread the word “mo-cially” about back-to-college ideas and solutions they’re finding.
As one might expect, online back-to-college shoppers are somewhat more affluent than other consumers, even back-to-college shoppers patronizing traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and as such, they spend more on merchandise. According to the study, this group will spend more than one-third more than all back-to-college shoppers for electronics and computer related goods, dorm and apartment furnishings, and food items, not to mention more than the net average on clothing, shoes, and more.
In addition to the web, about half of online back-to-college shoppers will also shop in department stores, discount stores, the college bookstore, and clothing stores, among other venues. Among consumer tactics to find the best values this year, these consumers anticipate shopping for sales more often, comparison shopping more online, buying more store and generic brands, and using coupons more, among other tactics.
Smartphones and tablet devices are the hottest assets 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 how to best target these shopper identified by the study?
1. Start back-to-college conversations early.
According to a study conducted by MRY “Class of 2015” Facebook communities, comprising over 50,000 students across 50,000 threads, the back-to-college conversation hardly limits itself to summer months anymore.
Instead, College-bound students started connecting with their peers much earlier, back as far as March, discussing everything from college acceptances in early spring to topics such as roommates, room assignments and orientation in June and July and into the term. Once dorm room assignments come through, MRY notes, “They socialize any and all questions, from the exact size of their beds to how they should be accessorizing their rooms. Rather than relying on the school’s official packing list, students turn to their peers to find out how to best prepare and what they really need.”
This year’s data was in agreement with this assessment. BIGinsight found that 29% of all back-to-college shoppers are starting to shop at least two months before school starts, up significantly since last year (24.4%), and highest in the survey’s history.
2. Make social central to campaigns and shopping.
From the same study, “Of the Class of 2015, 50% have over 300 friends on Facebook, 43% have “liked” more than 23 brands, 40% visit Facebook more than 10 times per day … and 58% use Twitter ‘all the time’.” If college students are among a retailer’s target customers, then Facebook, Twitter and arguably YouTube are among the most important places for retailers to engage with this audience.
Don’t just solve their need, bake in social through every step of the process.
One way would be to showcase smart furnishings ideas, and let those college shoppers share those ideas and their purchases with their social network. Tweet in-store events and specials and encourage these shoppers to retweet.
YouTube is succeeding as a real E-Commerce venue, providing style guides, “how to”s, and more will showcase your products and how those meet specific back-to-college shopper needs.
3. Socialize your mobile site and marketing.
67% of back-to-college consumers access social sites from their smartphone, 75% upload photos via mobile devices – highlighting the seamless integration of social and mobile for college students today.
For shopping purposes specifically, Shop.org’s 2012 Social & Mobile Commerce Consumer Study found that 3 out of 10 consumers aged 18 to 34 years old have taken a picture of a product, sent pictures of products to friends, texted or called friends about products, and/or searched for a nearby store.
With mobile devices enabling a running dialogue and commentary about (and with) the world around them, retailers should ensure that their sites and / or specialized micro-sites are optimized for mobile devices, that marketing messages work well on mobile devices, and that customers have the tools to easily spread the word “mo-cially” about back-to-college ideas and solutions they’re finding.
Once you have identified and targeted these consumers, managing your inventory, warehousing and generating usable reports and analytics to capitalize on this data is crucial to maintaining your business’ viability in today’s competitive online marketplace. SalesWarp Storefront Management System is an essential part of building, managing and expanding your online store and allowing you to take advantage of the barrage of data and information your store generates.