It’s that time of the year. Teachers are busily getting their classrooms prepped. College students are packing up for their first experience in a dorm room. Soon, social media accounts will be full of the first day of school pictures. And, just like that, the back-to-school season is upon us. And, if your back-to-school strategy is the same as it has been the last few years, you may be missing out on your target markets.

You see, the demographics for back-to-school shoppers are changing: Gen Z is finishing up high school and heading off the college, and millennials are parents of the fastest-growing segment of first-time school-age children – and those facts affect your commerce strategies for back-to-school.

Here are a few ways how:

Mobile is Mandatory

Most likely, mobile is already an important part of your commerce strategy, but, as younger generations become key demographics for retailers, the channel becomes even more important. According to research from NRF’s Annual Back to School Survey, 43% of all shoppers plan to use mobile as part of back-to-school shopping or research, which is already 10% greater than just 5 years ago. Consider only the key Millennial demographic, however, and that number skyrockets to an astonishing 60%. And, the rise in mobile commerce is being driven by the two M’s: “Moms” and “Millenials.” Now they are the same.

Mobile Shopping Statistics (from Huffington Post):

  • 30% of global ecommerce sales will come from smartphone users by the year 2018.
  • Mobile devices drive over half a billion in sales during Cyber Monday, a number that will continue to climb.
  • The preferred shopping method for smartphone users is via a shopping app.
  • Mobile commerce will rake in over $90 billion in sales in the U.S. by the year 2018.
  • Over 50% of smartphone shoppers say they will rely on a digital wallet to make purchases this year.
  • 75% of mobile shoppers redeemed coupons when shopping over the past three years.
  • 84% of mobile shoppers rely on smartphones to help them when making a purchase at a brick and mortar store

Rich Content Must Appear on Every Channel

As we have discussed previously, mobile users aren’t just using your site to purchase, although younger users are much more likely to convert on mobile than older users. They are also using your site to conduct research/read product reviews, to compare prices, and to access sales and advertisements – and, each of these activities may lead to a purchase online or in stores.

More stats to consider:

  • Over 59% of smartphone users research products from their handset before making an online purchase.
  • 76% of smartphone users rely on their handset to find a store to make a local purchase at.

In order to get these sales, whether on mobile, in-store or otherwise, your consumers will demand that they can view the same rich product content they expect from other channels. They want to see product images, access reviews, and even view videos, if appropriate.  And, importantly, that content needs to be on every channel – and it needs to be the same.  If a consumer views a product on one channel but sees something different (or non-existent) on another channel, she may go to your competitor.

Personalization is Important, but Get the Basics Right

It’s true.  Personalization does matter.  But, more importantly, consumers want things to be easy.  They want to be able to have a rich search experience (remember that most Millennials and Gen Z begin product searches on mobile); and, they want to be able to purchase on any channel.  Statistics show that consumers will abandon a search/purchase on your site and go to another site.

According to Retail Dive:

  • Online shoppers are most turned off by a poorly designed menu (41.2%), followed by search capabilities that are too basic (29.8%) and products that are buried behind too much branding (26.4%), according to a new study from Corra. What’s more, the vast majority (68.9%) said that encountering one of these pet peeves would cause them to shop around.
  • The study also found that several other varied factors could make consumers think twice about an e-commerce purchase. Those include: Finding a bad review of the product (60.6%) or not finding company contacts info on the site (9.7%), as well as shopping on a site that has either an outdated website (8.8%), poor navigation features (6.9%), a lack of transparent policies (6.1%) or spelling errors (5.1%).
  • The news wasn’t all bad for e-commerce sites. When asked how they preferred to contact an e-commerce business for questions or support, many consumers (52.4%) expressed a preference for the developing virtual assistant or live chat category, while 32.8% still prefer e-mail communication and 14.5% prefer to talk over the phone.

Do you want to understand your exposure or what you can do?