Small business owners considering obtaining a merchant cash advance need to know the right time to procure and utilize this capital injection. While many owners might be waiting for the winter holiday season to begin this process, back-to-school season is another great time of the year to focus on marketing and promotions. Even though the winter holidays are the largest shopping event of the year, the back-to-school shopping season is the second largest one, according to Cardlytics.
This time of the year provides small business owners a golden opportunity to boost sales and generate a substantial amount of leads that can be converted later in the year. Many parents are out and about buying new clothing and apparel, purchasing technological gadgets to help in the classroom and getting all the necessary home furnishings for newly minted college students’ dorms. Overall, the National Retail Federation estimated the average family will spend about $630.36 on back-to-school essentials, which amounts to roughly $24.9 billion.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay explained that while back-to-school spending has fluctuated in recent years based on both economic conditions and children’s needs, families still need to ensure their children have all the appropriate apparel and supplies.
“Parents this summer will inventory their children’s school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children,” Shay said. “Heading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that economic growth and consumer spending will improve after a shaky first half of the year.”
Here are four tips small business owners can use to target back-to-school shoppers and ultimately boost sales during this shopping season:
- Understand the market
Different consumers have different needs, which mean owners need to appeal to the variety of markets this season impacts. Typically, the majority of the shoppers during this time are parents, particularly moms, who are buying clothing and school supplies for their children. Owners can target these shoppers by appealing to the demographic. In addition to parents, adolescents are also on the lookout for the latest clothing styles and the latest trends so they can impress classmates they might not have seen in months. College students are also leaving the nest for the first time and will be seeking new clothing as well as home decor, furnishings and new electronics. Another key market out in full force during this time of year are teachers, since this is the first day of school for them as well, and they will be on the prowl for items to stock in their classrooms.
- Tweak your website
During the winter holidays, websites tend to feature aspects of the season to get customers into the holiday spirit. Seeing as how the back-to-school season ranks second in sales for businesses, owners should consider creating a special back-to-school landing page that features the hot items parents and students will be seeking. This reduces the amount of steps necessary for online shoppers to navigate the site and will therefore convert more sales.
- Offer deals and specials
Since this time of the year has grown as a prime sales season, it has naturally become more competitive. As more companies compete to attract shoppers looking to spend a considerable sum of money, it has become crucial for small businesses to alter their marketing strategies to stand out from the crowded playing field. One of the best ways to do this is to offer deals to lure in customers. Free shipping is one such deal that can really tip the scale in favor of higher sales. A recent survey conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of UPS discovered that high shipping cost is the No. 1 reason customers discard their online shopping cart. This method can also be tailored to help boost sales. For instance, by finding the average order size and offering free shipping on orders that are slightly larger than average, owners can entice shoppers to spend a little more money to reach that threshold. Discounts promo codes and offer a free gift with purchase are also great tactics for capturing a larger market share during this highly competitive sales season.
- Showcase new products
Since many students will be heading back to school and seeing classmates they might not have seen in several months, these kids want to really make an impression by wearing the latest fashions and having the trendiest gadgets. For small businesses operating on a razor-thin profit margin that might not have the necessary inventory, the owners should consider a working capital loan to keep the shelves stocked with all the latest merchandise for students. By having an up-to-date inventory available, customers will know to continue coming back to the business for these goods in the future.