Posted July 23, 2012 3:38 pm by with 0 comments

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The secret to back-to-school sales success? Free shipping.

PriceGrabber just released more data from their yearly Back-To-School Shopping Forecast. Last month we learned that parents are going to start shopping sooner and nearly half said they expect to spend more than last year.

If you want some of that money to flow through your online store, here’s the line-up of incentives shoppers are looking for:


As you can see, sales are also a big incentive to buy, but almost every store on land and on the web is going to offer some kind of back-to-school sale, so it’s tough to stand out. Free shipping, on the other hand, is a rarity.

Coupons, or in the online case, coupon codes, seem to be falling out of favor. I used to be a die-hard couponer, but of late I’m finding they’re not always worth the effort. If an item is over-priced to start with and I need a coupon to bring it down to the price I can find on Amazon, then it’s not a deal.

I’m really interested in bundling, which pulled a lowly 14%. I think this could, and should, be much higher, but it’s a tactic hardly anyone uses. Putting on my shopper hat, I’d be interested in a store that offered me a bigger discount for buying multiple items, or free items as a bonus. This goes straight to customer loyalty. People who shop often or spend more get a bigger discount than those who shop around. I buy from an online scrapbook store that uses this method and it’s very effective. If you run an online store, think long and hard about adding that option.

Saving money and time

62% of the folks surveyed by PriceGrabber said they plan to shop online and use comparison shopping sites to cut their back-to-school bill. Before they start shopping, 50% said they’ll be scouring their own homes for leftover school supplies. 36% of the people think they can use a list to control impulse buying (good luck with that). Only 34% said they’d visit a retailer website to get coupons.

Mobile made the study but not in a very big way. 37% said they’d use it to compare prices while shopping in brick and mortar stores. Even less people, only 14% said they plan to shop using their mobile phone.

Bottom line is $$$. Shoppers want more than a good price, they want to feel like they’re getting a great deal. And don’t forget, right after back-to-school is the start of the holiday shopping season. If you can pull in new customers now, offer them bundled deals and free shipping, in return you’ll get an email address that you can use to bring them back in for the big holiday season. Could be worth the cut you’ll take in your profit margin.