Back-to-School Shopping In The Millennial Age

Oh, the days of back-to-school shopping—that frenzy of looking for the trendiest threads and the coolest supplies. Shopping for the new school year is an exciting time for students, parents, and retailers alike. With spending on school shopping expected to reach $75.8 billion in 2016—a huge increase from last year’s $68 billion—retailers will need to be prepared.

Possibly the most notable shift in today’s shopping environment? The Millennial shopper—those born between 1980 to 2000—is now a force to be reckoned with on two fronts. The youngest of this generation are in their final high school years, while the oldest are starting to have families of their own. Meeting the back-to-school demands of this digital-age shopper, in all of their various forms, will be essential to retailers.

While Millennials will do the majority of their browsing online, reading reviews of products, and looking for coupons or discount codes, they still prefer to shop in physical stores. Whether it’s the desire for a more tactile experience, or an on-demand generation having less patience for shipping hassles, this is great news for brick and mortar shops competing with large, online retailers like Amazon. This is an opportunity for retailers to capitalize on truly great, in-person customer service.

A great experience begins with you and your staff and ends with the checkout experience. Here are a few strategies to help your retail business make the most of the back-to-school rush.

Flush Inventory, Sparkling Staff, Engaging Merchandising, Efficient Technology = Happy Back-to-School Shoppers

Being fully staffed with a knowledgeable sales team that knows the inventory well and can make sure customers are able to purchase what they’ve researched online will be vital. Having adequate inventory on hand in preparation will make for a more seamless experience. Technology can help you have total control over your inventory so that you don’t miss an opportunity to satisfy your customers.

By August, your summer staff is fully ramped up and should be able to help customers efficiently—making the shopping experience enjoyable for your customers. Of course, providing your employees with the tools they need to make sales is necessary to executing on the overall experience. Training is everything. Since the in-person shopping experience requires more of your customers’ time than one online, they deserve to be given the attention they deserve. Not only can one negative experience increase the likelihood that a customer never comes in again, it’s also likely that they’ll spread the word.

Given that digitally savvy consumers do their window shopping online and then seek products out in physical stores, it’s imperative that your store has a social media presence, website, blog, or even Pinterest page. In a recent study 37% of shoppers cite blogs and social media as influences on their purchase decisions. That’s too high of a percentage to ignore.

Posting a promo code to Instagram and Facebook, keeping your website updated with new merchandise, or “pinning” products that you sell for your Pinterest page will keep your existing customers on alert and even influence new customers. Not only will social media help create buzz about what’s in now, it can also establish a feedback loop, giving you insight into what you should be adding to your inventory and where trends are heading.

Clean, visually compelling merchandising will ensure that your shoppers enjoy their visit to your store. Technology plays an important part of all aspects to a plugged-in generation, therefore additions like an HDTV screen—a relatively small investment—playing brand content or music videos can give your store an edge. Even if a technology forward vibe doesn’t match your shop, having a tablet on hand to use as a resource for interactions with customers will help you present your shop as ‘connected.’   

The cash wrap area and checkout process should be set up for continuity, including both visual appeal and ease of ringing transactions and processing payments. A few facts:

A point-of-sale system that is robust enough to keep track of loyalty, rewards, coupons, and discounts is critical to create a seamless experience. Revel Systems iPad Point of Sale gives retailers all of the tools they need to cater to the Millennial shopper, during one of the busiest seasons of the year. Don’t lose customers due to long lines or an out-of-date system that can’t stand up to the back-to-school boom.