TechBytes: Three tips to survive last-minute back-to-school frenzy
School may be back in session in some parts of the country, but the back-to-school shopping frenzy is far from over. In fact, 77% of parents said they planned to wait at least three weeks before school begins to start shopping, according to the National Retail Federation. (On the East Coast, school doesn’t start until after Labor Day.)
As retailers eye their share of what NRF estimates will be $82.8 billion in back-to-school sales, they should make sure their store shelves are stocked, last-minute deals are in place, and fulfillment options are optimized to attract last-minute shoppers. Stores that can’t keep pace will only drive shoppers into the arms of competitors — and risk not having them return later.
Here are three tips to attract last-minute back-to-school customers— and bring them back for future visits:
•Boost marketing efforts with location-based data. With the back-to-school season looming, location intelligence data can help brick-and-mortar retailers strategize and execute more efficient, better performing market campaigns that drive in-store visits. By leveraging a mobile device’s location, retailers have a new tool to deliver personalized, real-time content about marketing campaigns and promotions.
Meanwhile, companies can use consumers’ location patterns to map the offline consumer journey, and gain more actionable insights on consumer behavior, purchase intent and brand affinity.
•Tighten inventory management cross-channel. Retailers kicked off the back-to-school season in late June with well-stocked store shelves — both physical and virtual — that featured the hottest apparel, school supplies, electronics and dorm essentials. Fast-forward two months, and last-minute customers are playing beat the clock to grab the same back-to-school essentials. And they expect to find merchandise in-stock, and available for pickup or delivery.
During this zero hour, retailers need to ensure integrated inventory management systems can provide information about merchandise availability at store-level, as well as across digital channels. They also must share accurate order status updates with customers, ensuring them that they will have all the supplies on their list.
•Offer more fulfillment options. With the first day commencing in mere weeks, time is of the essence. That means only enabling customers to make a purchase in-store or shop online and have items delivered to their home won’t cut it. Instead, customers will opt to shop with retailers that offer multiple fulfillment options that will enable them to get their purchases faster, and when they are ready to receive them.
These include more buy-online-pickup-in-store programs, ship-from-store services, even curbside order pickup programs. For example, Walmart is making everything available for buy-online-pickup-in-store, and school staples are also eligible for the company’s Online Grocery Pickup shopping service. Further, a majority of back-to-class items are also available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35 without a membership fee.
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Duluth Trading ups its digital shopping experience
The completion of two major IT projects is helping Duluth Trading Company offer a more personalized shopping journey to digital customers.
The lifestyle brand of men’s and women’s casual clothing, workwear and accessories has implemented a new e-commerce platform that supports a better mobile, tablet and desktop shopping experience. It also allows for more flexible content management, and an increased ability to personalize outreach to customers.
The completion comes on the heels of an overhaul of the company’s order management system, which gives Duluth Trading better customer visibility across all channels. It also provides the tools needed to roll out ship-from-store, buy online, pick-up in stores, and omnichannel returns programs.
Both projects are working in tandem to enhance customers’ digital shopping experience —a strategic piece of the company’s long-term business, and competitive growth plans, according to Duluth.
“We are excited to present our customers with a new website, based on a state-of-the art e-commerce platform, which is now fully operational and delivering enhanced functionality,” said Stephanie Pugliese, CEO, Duluth Trading. “I am very proud that our team has successfully implemented two major IT projects since the beginning of this year. This will benefit our customers with greater flexibility and convenience, as well as enhancing our operational efficiency and generating new sales opportunities through improved gift cards and other offerings.”
The online upgrades coincide the company’s growth plan. The company is on pace to open 100 stores in five years. Fifteen locations are planned to open in 2018.