While the concept of back-to-school shopping has a long history in retail, it has taken on new wrinkles in recent years through the application of technology. Now, capturing a significant portion of the market could require a strong transaction management system applicable to both in-store and online purchases, as well as a supply chain management framework capable of shipping goods to customers' homes. The National Retail Federation recently released data on the habits of modern back-to-school buyers, demonstrating the prevalence of new channels.
The rise of the tablet computer has been a boon for shoppers. According to the NRF survey, 67 percent of back-to-school shoppers with tablets will use the devices for purchases. The source noted that many stores have already developed specific strategies aimed at attracting mobile and multi-channel buyers.
"Mobile continues to drive the conversation in the retail industry, and when it comes to back-to-school, retailers have spent months preparing their mobile promotions in anticipation of one of the biggest mobile shopping seasons we’ve seen yet," said NRF president Matthew Shay.
Marketers and sales departments can vary strategies to target specific types of devices, as tablets and smartphones are often used quite differently. The NRF found that more phone users are inspecting goods and comparison shopping on phones rather than making purchases. Companies with accurate demographic research on their customers can develop ad campaigns and marketing websites more effectively.
Online payment expert Jim Stoneham, contributing to Mashable, recently noted that mobile is a unique marketplace. Customers act differently when using mobile devices in place of computers, according to Stoneham, who stated that companies can develop streamlined mobile sites that are easy to use and maintain an environment similar to the full-scale PC version of the web presence. He noted that the wildly successful Amazon app follows such a template.
Stoneham also suggested that successful e-commerce marketers can offer an instant-buy option with no shopping cart. He explained that companies with an option to buy immediately could claim sales from impulsive buyers driven away by a long and complicated check-out process.
No matter how firms approach e-commerce in important buying seasons, a vital early step could simply be acknowledging the power and prevalence of the online and mobile marketplace. Companies expecting to sell more than ever through mobile apps and ship directly to buyers can have far better infrastructure in place than those taken by surprise and attempting to switch quickly.