The Bank of Montreal (BMO) released its Back-to-School Survey results last week, concluding spending will be up by 18.2% (totaling $428) in 2013 by comparison to 2012. Canadian parents will still be frugal, however, with 95% planning to limit spending on back-to-school items and 35% will have a firm budget. Quebec will spend the most on school supplies and Ontario will spend the least.
Budgeting strategies noted in the survey that can be leveraged online include:
- Searching for deals and using coupons (65%)
- Shopping around to compare prices (62%)
“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.
Online sellers of school supplies, clothing and related technology can use additional strategies to offer convenience, add value and reduce price.
- Free or low flat-rate shipping.
- Bonus items (free with purchase, free item with purchases over $X, buy one get one free, etc.)
- Contests can draw shoppers to your site and social media pages. Designer backpacks, laptops, and “win your purchase” are just a few possible prizes.
- Online discounts and coupons (or printable coupons if you have an offline store).
- Feature price-matching policies prominently.
- Stock unique or novelty items that Canadian kids just gotta have.
- Bundle back-to-school products for convenient shopping and offer a great deal on these packages.
- Donate a portion of profits during August/September to an education or other child-related charity.
- Provide assurance 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.
- With more than half of Canadian mobile phone users having a SmartPhone, it’s important that your website be mobile-friendly with omni-channel strategies out in full force.
- 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.
- Make it clear that you are located in Canada and clearly label products made in Canada. Encourage shoppers to shop Canadian and buy local.
- Affiliate marketers and bloggers can feature back-to-school sales and coupons from their favourite merchants.
- Consider selling products to bargain-hunting Canadians via online auctions like eBay or merchant marketplaces like Amazon.
Google Canada reports that back-to-school shoppers did approximately one third of their shopping online in August, 2013, spending an average of $163. 79% of all shoppers searched online for back-to-school items and 89% of mobile users did so. The top search terms were laptops, phone plans, school supplies, and back-to-school.
The top five Canadian cities for back-to-school searching were:
Canadian retail businesses can compete online by knowing their market and catering to it. Price isn’t always the deciding factor in stores and it’s no different online. We have to be more creative than that if we want to corner the back-to-school market in competitive cyberspace.
Are you competing for Canadian back-to-school sales this year? Please share your experience in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Canadian Digital Behaviour for Businesses (Statistics)
Canadian SmartPhone Shopping and Ad Response (Statistics)
Affiliate Marketers Reveal 2013 Top Networks, Income and More (Statistics)
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