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back-to-school shopping

Study Up on Omnichannel to Ace This Back-to-School Season

According to a recent Direct Marketing News interview with Julie Krueger, Google’s industry director of retail, nearly one third of back-to-school shoppers have already started loading up on essentials. What does this mean for marketers and retailers? “If they’re not present as customers browse and consider products while outside of the store, then the odds of them winning shoppers over for their in-store purchases are not high,” Krueger said. Marketers and retailers need to be everywhere given that:

  • 50% of back-to-school searches are happening on smartphones—up from 40% last year;
  • 22% of 18 to 24 year olds visit YouTube to figure out what’s cool to purchase;
  • 120% increase in watch time for back-to-school videos, and back-to-school YouTube searches are up 43%.

How can marketers and retailers do that? Jonathan Alferness, VP of product management for Google Shopping, focuses on three key moments in the shopper’s journey:

  1. I-want-to-know moments: These are moments when the customer is deciding what to buy and is looking for facts (e.g., price, product details) to help him make a decision.
  2. I-want-to-go moments: These are moments when the customer is looking for stores that carry the items that they need.
  3. I-want-to-buy moments: These are moments when customers are ready to purchase fast and easily.

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Changes in Back-to-School Shopping Habits

Yuyu Chen, writing for ClickZ, examines a recent Deloitte survey of 1,015 U.S. parents of school-aged children about their back-to-school shopping plans.

Among Deloitte’s findings:

Nearly 40% of parents think back-to-school shopping is less important this year than it was last year.

31% of parents will not complete their shopping until after the school year starts.

80% of consumers plan to use their digital devices, especially smart phones, in this shopping process for product information, including reviews.

Only 29% plan to buy via a mobile device.

Only 10% of respondents plan to rely on social media for back-to-school shopping.  This number has decreased from 18% in 2014 and 35% in 2011. Deloitte believes that shoppers prefer to research via other online sources and also get recommendations from friends.

Kasey Lobaugh, Chief Retail Innovation Officer for Deloitte, concludes that these shifts in back-to-school shopping attitudes and plans could disrupt the retail industry and require retailers to change their back-to-school marketing approach, as well as the management of inventory and product assortment, and promotional planning.

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