With the exception of the holiday season, many merchants find that their sales are the highest just before school starts. Of course, that is particularly true if you sell products geared to kids and teens. While it is young consumers who will have very definite opinions about what they like, it is their parents who carry the wallets. Make it as easy and seamless for parents, and their happiness will be reflected in your profit margins.
Give People What They Want
In short, stock the products that have been popular in past years, and don’t forget to keep your ear to the ground for the cutting-edge trends. Your point-of-sale (POS) system should enable you to easily retrieve sales data that reveals what customers loved. Use social media and helpers such as Google’s free trends tool to learn what people are interested in and buying right now in your area.
Demonstrate How Your Products Will Answer a Back-to-School Need
Go to any store, and you will see shelves filled with products. In order to inspire potential customers to actually buy what they see, help them to visualize your items in their own backpacks and dorm rooms. Use photographs and even whole displays to showcase your products in the educational setting, and people will be more likely to incorporate them into their lives.
Get on the Digital Bandwagon
If you want increased sales and happy customers, one of your best vehicles is the internet. Take advantage of hot social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to find trends as well as advertise what you have to offer. Make your posts fun and visually appealing, attracting shoppers’ attention with photos. Dedicate an entire section of your e-commerce site to back-to-school gear so that people know right where to go. Even if you don’t have a website, you cannot afford to miss out on the sales that online channels can drive to your brick-and-mortar store.
Attract Old and New Customers with a Giveaway
What student or parent can resist freebies? Make it fun – and potentially lucrative – for people to come into your store by allowing them to enter into a contest or raffle. The sky is the limit, so get your creative juices flowing. The key is to make your store stand out from the rest, incentivizing people to spend more and even bring their friends.
Make Your In-Store Shopping Experience Frustration-Free
Harried parents and kids want to walk in, get the clothing, shoes, electronics or school supplies they need and be on their way as quickly as possible. The more you as a merchant can help them to achieve this goal, the better their experience in your store will be, the more they will buy and the more likely it will be that they will return. To that end, be sure that you check your inventory and that popular products are in stock. Train your staff to be experts in locating exactly what your customer asks for, including knowledge about supplemental or substitute products in the same category. No matter how crazy things might get on the sales floor, coach your staff on how to be friendly, relaxed and helpful. Finally, if you are equipped with mobile credit card processing, give each of your sales staff a portable credit card reader. Eliminating long checkout lines and enabling customers to pay from wherever they are in the store can streamline the payment process and greatly enhance the customer’s buying experience.
The weeks right before the start of school and college may be your second busiest of the year. Capitalize on this opportunity by doing everything you can to boost the appeal of your products and cater to customers’ goals, needs and priorities. If you follow these suggestions, they may prove to be some of the best things you learn this year.