Article

Chris Boaz
Chris Boaz 14 September 2017

Back to School: Preparing your site for the summer surge

In order to capitalise on this short but sizable shopping season, retailers should look to optimise their sites in anticipation of the back-to-school surge. Here are three steps ecommerce retailers should take to prepare.

What was once a restock on school supplies like new uniforms and stationery has become one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year. According to Deloitte’s 2017 back-to-school survey, this year’s total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $27 billion.

Deloitte’s survey revealed that school clothing and accessories are expected to account for 55% of families’ spending, whereas just 14% will be spent on computers and hardware. The  survey also found that the 60% of shoppers that start before August are likely to spend an average of 16% more than the remaining 40% of parents who start shopping in August or later.

In order to capitalise on this short but sizable shopping season, retailers should look to optimise their sites in anticipation of the back-to-school surge. Here are three steps ecommerce retailers should take to prepare:

1. Review your website

Retailers’ websites must offer a best in class user experience in order to meet with consumer’s heightened expectations. There are two key things to take into consideration when preparing your site for a busy shopping season:

  • Adopt a multichannel approach: An increasing number of sales are made using mobile devices, so retailers need to adopt a multi-channel approach to ensure their site performs at its best, whether it's on mobile, tablet or desktop.
  • Checkout optimisation: Implementing an address validation capability at the checkout makes the process much quicker and easier for customers to enter their details. The longer and more tedious the checkout process, the more likely consumers are to abandon their shopping before completing the purchase.

2. Stock up!

Retailers will know from past data which product lines and brands were most successful during previous back-to-school shopping seasons, and this will serve as a useful guide to what to expect this year. School uniforms, stationery, technology, bags and sports kit are all popular items, so whether you’re a specialist retailer or a department store with a website, make sure you’ve stocked up on key products ahead of the rush.

Ecommerce retailers need to reach out to their suppliers as early as possible to review any news product lines, negotiate terms and conditions and ensure deliveries will run smoothly. The earlier retailers confirm their products and place their orders, the less likely they are to run into a supply issue or face problems with delayed delivery.

3. Refine your delivery process

Nothing is more frustrating for customers than not receiving their orders on time. Delayed or incorrect orders can cause serious damage to a brand’s reputation and discourage repeat customers. Retailers should ensure they have a contingency plan in place to allow for the impact of external factors, such as delayed shipments.

Accurate address information is crucial to ensuring that deliveries run smoothly. It’s inevitable that shipping errors will occur if customers are entering invalid billing or shipping addresses during the checkout process. Implementing address data verification technology will help to eliminate any address errors and make the checkout process a more positive user experience.

Customers have come to expect a seamless online shopping experience, and retailers who don’t provide one risk losing out on custom to competitors. With some smart planning in the run up to the back-to-school rush, online retailers can maximise their sales intake, and hopefully win over some loyal customers in the process.

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