The 2016 back-to-school shopping season is poised to be one of the most successful of recent years for Canadian eCommerce. Canadians are spending more online in Canada and using the Internet as a tool for comparison shopping. With the low loonie, you may even bring in some American back-to-school shoppers. eCommerce brings the World to our doorstep and the low Canadian dollar invites them in.
“While overall Canadian spending on back to school is down (in 2015), the lower loonie is likely to lead to more of that spending remaining in Canada and more U.S. visitors are arriving as well, which could provide some offsetting sales boost for retailers,” said Doug Porter, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group.
According to a 2015 Bank of Montreal report, 16% of respondents said they’ll shop more online for back-to-school items.
20 Ways Canadian Retailers Can Win Back-To-School Sales Online
Canadian eCommerce merchants and other online sellers of school supplies, clothing and related technology can use many strategies to offer convenience, add value and reduce price. If you haven’t started selling online, NOW is a great time to start.
- Optimize your website to ensure Canadians will find you when they’re searching. Remember that Google is now favouring mobile-friendly websites for mobile searches, and more Canadians are searching on their smartphone than ever before. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and employ omni-channel strategies for the most success.
- We all know why toys are advertised during children’s shows. Promote your best deals and “gotta have it” items on social media because that’s where the kids are.
- It has become common for parents to hand over their credit card to teens for back-to-school online shopping. It changes the shopping dynamic when teens hold the credit card. What appeals to them certainly won’t be the same as what appeals to their parents, and they aren’t too keen on store loyalty. They want what teens have always wanted, the cool stuff of the moment. Give them a new twist on that cool item and they’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand. If you want to reach teens it’s important to be present on social media, both for campaigns and for customer support.
- Engage those mommy/family bloggers! We have a list of Google PR3+ Canadian bloggers to get you started.
- Offer free or low flat-rate shipping.
- Bonus items are always popular, such as including a hot back-to-school item free with purchase, or a freebie with purchases over a certain dollar amount, BOGO (buy one, get one free), and so on.
- Contests can bring back-to-school shoppers to your site and social media pages. Designer backpacks, tablets, and “win your purchase” are just a few possible prizes. Allow bonus entries for social media sharing.
- Promote or start a loyalty or reward program. “Retailers that offer loyalty or reward programs offer an added bonus to students and parents who are looking to get the most of their money,” suggests Mike Bonner, Vice President, Commercial Banking, GTA Division, Bank of Montreal.
- Feature price-matching policies prominently.
- Make it clear that you are located in Canada and clearly label products made in Canada. Encourage shoppers to shop Canadian and buy local. Reach out to American shoppers looking to get a deal on Canadian dollar purchases. Make the low loonie work for you in 2016.
- Stock unique or novelty items that Canadian kids “just gotta have” and promote them like crazy so parents searching for specific products will find you.
- Bundle back-to-school products for convenient online shopping and offer a great deal on these packages. That could be anything from one-click “basics” purchases, to bundling school supplies in trending themes like Finding Dory and Star Wars.
- Offer assurance to online Canadian shoppers by offering a guarantee. If possible, allow returns to an offline store.
- Offer gift cards or certificates for parents to give to older children and university students. Make it easy with instant eMail delivery.
- A very effective and efficient way to get in front of thousands of online back-to-school shoppers is to start an affiliate program through a network. You’ll quickly build an online sales force and you’ll only pay when they send you a sale.
- If you’re an affiliate marketer or blogger, you can feature back-to-school sales and coupons from your favourite merchants through networks like Share-A-Sale.
- It’s a fantastic time of year to get into drop shipping, which requires no inventory and allows you to have purchases shipped all over the World if you want to. You can be up and running in time to cash in on back-to-school shopping and you’ll be ready for holiday shoppers.
- Consider selling products to bargain-hunting Canadians via online marketplaces. While the environment is more competitive, it will allow you to take advantage of the massive traffic these sites get.
- Donate a portion of profits during August/September to a Canadian-run education or other child-related charity. Shoppers love to help while buying items they need anyway. Plus, most charities promote their benefactors online.
Are you targeting online back-to-school shoppers in Canada in 2016? Please share your ideas or questions in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Canadian Stores Can Grab Global Online Shoppers (Statistics)
10 Hot Product Niches to Sell or Drop Ship Online in Canada
Listen Up, Brands: What Online Canadian Moms Want (Statistics)
Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
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