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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : August 16, 2013

How to use back to school to drive loyalty

North American shoppers are in the midst of the back to school rush - hitting online and brick-and-mortar stores for last-minute clothes and shoes as well as school supplies like paper and pencils. For retailers, this season has two prongs: increased revenue immediately and the potential to impact the upcoming holiday shopping season.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: There have been a couple of recent studies about the importance of the customer experience. What small tweaks can retailers make now to create a better experience for back to school shoppers?

Kelly Ford, Vice President of Marketing, SundaySky: Back-to-school shopping is heavily pushed by price cuts, discounts and deals, and not necessarily by a customer's loyalty to a retailer. That said, this is an optimal time for brands to ensure they are delivering a great customer experience to drive repeat purchases and begin nurturing a customer for long-term loyalty, especially into the just-around-the-corner holiday season. Data attributes associated with loyalty program enrollment and redemption, one-click buying, recommendations and related items, and nearest store location can be easily leveraged in smarter applications of video, which also support omnichannel initiatives.

Jeff Zwelling, CEO, Convertro: Small tweaks can include more personal testimonials, differentiated pricing and consumer engagement through different devices. For example, you can download the Bed Bath & Beyond app and get discounts while you are shopping in the store. There are also further retargeting opportunities offered by mobile-focused marketing initiatives such as this one, but as far as customer experience goes, a dedicated, easy-to-understand landing page is a must these days.

Billy Nava, Vice President of Retail Solutions, TransPerfect: There has been an increase in the use of grid pages with multi-category and cross-channel items. Since the back-to-school shopping season isn't just about clothes, or accessories, or technology, but incorporates all of the above, retailers are finding ways to offer that full package. Instead of logging onto a retail site and only seeing clothes, now you'll see full outfits, with backpacks and notebooks included in the picture. Brands are tying in other products, channels and companies in the interest of mixing categories to make it easier for the consumer. The customer doesn't even realize this affiliate channel marketing is happening on the back-end - they just receive the goods they ordered - but this sort of multichannel partner experience is helping to facilitate a more convenient and all-inclusive shopping experience.

Kristina: What are brands doing well in ecommerce?

Jeff: Brands like Victoria Secret, Sunglass Hut, Bonobos, Indochino and Gemvara are all retailers that sell a niche product. More specifically, they don't sell the same things that can be found on Amazon. If you can't work on changing your product, you can still be smarter in your marketing campaigns. These companies excel in bringing the offline and online experiences closer together, such as with Bonobos' guideshops. The guideshops are e-commerce showrooms designed as Bonobos' answer to the traditional retail experience. The customer can try on the product, but then makes purchases online from the store's computer, assisted by a Bonobos Guide. Other brands like Warby Parker are running similar initiatives with astonishing success. It may seem counter-intuitive to drive customers to stores where no products are actually being sold on-site, but a properly strategized campaign, if measured and allocated correctly, can really have an impact on revenue.

Billy: Over the last 24 months or so, brands have been very focused on enhancing customer convenience. Omnichannel strategies are proving to be effective. Allowing consumers the convenience of ordering something online and then picking it up or returning it in-store is a great feature.

Kelly: Online retailers continue to excel at customer recommendations. Pioneered by the recommendation expert Amazon, more and more brands are following suit and recognizing the value in recommending products to customers by utilizing past purchase history, or current customer status or segment. Brands are also embracing deeper personalization tactics in support of customer acquisition and loyalty-building strategies. They want to make true one-to-one connections with their customers.

More from our experts next week, including trends that could help retailers bank up the holidays.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: back to school trends, Convertro, ecommerce tips, ecommerce trends, SundaySky, TransPerfect

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