By Jessica Farrelly
Is there any date more stressful in a parent’s shopping calendar than the back-to-school rush? Books, stationery, backpacks, clothing, tech devices… the list can be overwhelming. Any retailer that can take the hassle out of this shopping experience is a retailer that will win parents’ custom. With the right search and merchandising tactics, back-to-school ecommerce prep can generate a significant boost in conversions for your online store.
That’s before you even consider how 2021 back-to-school trends will differ from previous years. After a year of homeschooling, many students will have an even longer shopping list than usual as they return to the classroom. And, as consumers have grown increasingly accustomed to ecommerce over the past year, many parents who previously trudged around the mall with kids in tow will be more than happy to spend their back-to-school dollars online this year.
Ready to optimize your store for this influx of shoppers?
1. Curate a back-to-school ecommerce category page
If you carry school or college-related products across multiple categories on your site, consider bringing them together on a single page for the peak back-to-school shopping period. Instead of searching and browsing multiple pages, shoppers will be able to find everything they need in one place, and potentially discover back-to-school products they didn’t even know you carried. As a bonus, you’ll also have the perfect landing page to link to from any marketing campaigns you’re running.
2. Add back-to-school banners and badges to your store
Speaking of marketing campaigns, ensure consistency across all touchpoints by adding merchandising banners to your homepage and landing page. Prominently feature shipping timelines and any sale or discount pricing – back-to-school shopping can be expensive, so highlighting value is crucial. Adding badges to school-ready products is another good idea. Label products with attributes like “easy to wash” or “durable material” to eliminate any concerns that might prove to be a barrier to purchase.
3. Optimize your site search for back-to-school ecommerce shoppers
Your data from 2020 is probably skewed, but take a look at your reporting from 2019 for search insights on any school-related terms that come up at this time of year. Depending on your product line, it could be worth setting up synonyms or redirects for non-product search queries like “college,” “dorm,” “school,” and so on. If you have a dedicated category page as per tip #1, send this traffic there. If not, set up a synonym for these searches to generate relevant results, and consider implementing a rule to sort results from low-high price. Let’s say you sell desks and chairs, for example. Anyone searching for “college” is probably looking for your more budget-friendly options. Make them as easy as possible to find.
Insights to shape your ecommerce strategy in 2021
4. Add social proof to inspire confidence
Any parents who are turning to ecommerce for back-to-school shopping for the first time may need additional reassurance before buying certain products online. Displaying reviews is an effective way to inspire confidence in purchasing, as is giving shoppers the ability to sort and filter product results by customer ratings. Likewise, user-generated content (UGC) can provide encouraging real-life context by showing your products being used by other customers with similar needs and concerns.
5. Offer buying guides and inspiration
Providing back-to-school content is another smart tactic for inspiring shoppers to buy, the key is to make these resources easy to find with content search and inline banners within the product grid. If you sell laptops, for example, consider creating a buyer’s guide for affordable devices that are compatible with school requirements. Cater to college-age students? Link to a Pinterest board for dorm decor and creative storage ideas. And, as always, make sure information like your return policy is easy to locate and findable via your search bar.
6. Cross and upsell with product recommendations
Remind parents of those last minute, easy-to-forget products with personalized recommendations. If they’re viewing a child’s backpack, there’s a good chance they’ll also be interested in a matching pencil case and some stationery. The aforementioned laptop? They’ll probably need a screen protector and insurance to go with it. Plus, one anticipated 2021 back-to-school trend is an increased demand for products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes – try adding low-cost recommendations like this to your checkout page. They’ll thank you for the hint, while you boost your average order value.
Bonus tip: for those truly last minute purchases, give shoppers the ability to filter products that are available for curbside pickup, if you have a brick-and-mortar location.
Ready for the back-to-school ecommerce rush?
With a few simple adjustments to your search and merchandising strategy, you can take the hassle out of back-to-school shopping for parents, while boosting your online sales and average order value. Interested in learning more about how these solutions could work on your store? Request a Searchspring demo, or visit the sites of some of our superhero customers like Schoolsin, Home Science Tools, Inmod, and Fabletics.
Jessica FarrellyContent Marketing Manager, Searchspring
Jessica has worked as a content writer for B2B and B2C businesses in a variety of industries. An avid online shopper, she has become immersed in everything that goes on behind the scenes of ecommerce since joining the Searchspring team, and loves writing about the latest trends and happenings in the industry.