Why it’s not too early to get your online store ready for back-to-school shoppers—and 5 strategies to school-proof your site!

by Canada Post Canada Post   |   August 24, 2017   |   Share this :  

Research indicates that back-to-school shoppers are turning online earlier than ever to start their research and purchasing.

 In fact a 2015 Google consumer survey found that 20% planned to be finished the task a month before school starts, while 55% will be wrapped up by Labour Day.1

Plus, shoppers aren’t just checking off those back-to-school lists earlier, they’re turning online more than ever before, seen through impressive growth during 2015’s back-to-school season. E-commerce segments like fashion, sporting goods/outdoor, houseware and home furnishings experienced record growth during August 2015, suggesting shoppers are less inclined to trek to brick-and-mortar stores during the back-to-school rush.

We anticipate demand to be even greater in 2016. Here are 5 strategies to help you make sure you’re ready to meet demand this year.

  1. Be findable – use SEO

    If parents and students search online for back-to-school items, will your site come up in search engine results? If not, consider investing in search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. It can help improve your placement on result pages—and increase the number of visitors to your site. Back-to-school shoppers may be an untapped market and a chance expand your customer base.

  2. Provide the best user experience possible

    Want to convert shoppers? Even ones who might just be researching online, but plan to buy at the mall? Boost conversion potential by making sure your site provides some key information to shoppers. The truth is, online shoppers are savvy and have come to expect these features, meaning they may buy online elsewhere if your site doesn’t offer them.

    • An upfront returns policy. This gives shoppers the confidence to buy. Read more about how to create a customer-pleasing return policy.
    • Tracking. Customers love to track their purchase. In fact, 75% of Canadian online shoppers say tracking influences their satisfaction with online retailers. Read more about how tracking can benefit you and your shoppers.2
    • Estimated delivery date. Just as shoppers like to track the progress of their delivery, they want to know when it will arrive before they click “buy”. 

Interested in reading more from Canada Post? Visit the Canada Post Shipping Solutions Blog  for more articles to help you operate your e-commerce business more effectively. 

  1. Offer free or discounted shipping

    Think about extending a special back-to-school shipping offer. While you may not be able to offer it year-round, implementing free, flat-rate or discounted shipping during back-to-school season can drive incremental sales. Keep in mind that 64% of shoppers who abandoned their carts in the past said it was because shipping costs were too high.3 Merchants are taking notice: Our research saw a 14% increase in the number of merchants offering free shipping in 2015 (56%) from 2014 (42%).4

  2. Give shoppers delivery options

    Back-to-school shoppers are on the move, like university students for example. Consider implementing Canada Post’s flexible delivery options to help your shoppers get their purchases when and where they want them. We know that 48% of frequent shoppers indicated they would purchase more items online if provided choice of delivery options.5

    • Deliver to Post Office – Integrate this option into your website to allow shoppers to send their purchases to a post office of their choice right from the checkout page. Learn more.
    • FlexDelivery – Shoppers sign up on our website and receive a special delivery address they can use to have their items delivered to a post office of their choice. Read more.
    • Delivered Tonight – Same-day, evening delivery in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Find out how it works.
  3. Be ready to fulfill

    Are your operations ready to meet the demand from back-to-school shoppers? This demand may extend right into the peak holiday season. That’s why having ready-to-scale operations in place by summer is a must if you anticipate back-to-school traffic. Get tactics and strategies for becoming a fulfillment speedster.

Bonus tip: go omnichannel

If you’re working on an omnichannel strategy this year, consider implementing it in time for back-to-school season. Think of busy parents who may want to purchase something online but pick it up in store while they’re at the mall. Merchants are taking notice: our research shows that more merchants offered a ‘buy online, pick up in store’ option in 2015 (50%) than 2014 (42%).6

Like what you’ve read? Click here to check out the original post and other related articles.

Remember: it’s not too early

School may not even be out yet, but now’s the perfect time to do all the behind-the-scenes work required to make sure you can capture a piece of the back-to-school pie.

1 Source: Google consumer surveys, which also found that 26% of post-secondary-aged Canadian students said they’ll be shopping more for back-to-school items this year compared to 2014. 
2 Source: J.C. Williams Group, Canadian E-shoppers: The online shopping/buying experience, CP 12-209, September 2012. 
3 Source: Online Shopper Sensitivity to Shipping Costs, CPC 15-214, September 2015. 
4 Source: 2015 Canada Post Holiday Monitoring Study 2015, March 2016 
5 When compared to brick and mortar locations. Source: Consumer Delivery Preferences, CP 14-206, August 2014. 
6 Source: 2015 Canada Post Holiday Monitoring Study 2015, March 2016

READ MORE: E-commerce solutions for businesses of all sizes.

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