Back to School, Back to the Store: Loyalty Programs Drive Return Shoppers

Merchant Warehouse |

August 13, 2014

Back to School Shopping

Back to School season is serious business, with an estimated $72.9 billion retail dollars up for grabs. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, many retailers are failing to use loyalty programs in order to take full advantage of the lucrative back-to-school shopping opportunity.

Our latest infographic looks at why retailers should be leveraging loyalty programs to significantly increase their returns during the back-to-school shopping season, as well as the value launching these programs can bring after the season is over.

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Infographic Content

Back to School, Back to the Store

Loyalty Programs Drive Return Shoppers

Back-to-school season is serious business, with an estimated$72.9 billion retail dollars up for grabs. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, many retailers are failing to use loyalty programs in order to take full advantage of the lucrative back-to-school shopping opportunity.

What Back to School Season Means for Retailers

Big Spenders

The average back-to-school spending for families with children in grades K-12 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics is estimated to be $669.28 during 2014, a 5 percent increase from 2013.

The Shopping Season is On!

The back-to-school shopping season begins in July and ends around Labor Day

How Does Back-to-School Shopping Rank Against Other Holiday Seasons?

After the winter holiday season, which accounts for more than $601 billion in sales, back-to-school shopping is the second-largest shopping season.

Holidays/Dollar Amounts, in Billions

  • Back-to-School/College / $74.9B
  • Mother’s Day / $19.9B
  • Valentine’s Day / $17.3B
  • Easter / $15.9B
  • Father’s Day / $12.7B
  • Halloween* / $6.9B
  • St. Patrick’s Day / $4.8B

Source: NRF consumer surveys conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

*Denotes 2013 survey results

Customers Value Loyalty

Back-to-school loyalty programs drive repeat annual business. 85% of back-to-school shoppers return to the same stores yearly. 91% would shop elsewhere, however, if a store offered a promotion or reward.

There are currently over 1 billion U.S. retail loyalty program members, according to a Bond Brand Loyalty study.

Price Matters

  • 53 percent of customers say cost mainly determines where to shop for school supplies.
  • 66 percent will sign up for retailer loyalty programs during back-to-school shopping if offered a discount at the checkout.
  • 72 percent of customers have loyalty program memberships at 1 to 5 of their favorite retailers.

Giving Customers What They Want

Although they recognize these loyalty program opportunities, most retailers fail to capitalize of them.

When asked whether their business had run a loyalty program during 2013, only 30% of respondents said yes. When asked whether they were planning on running one during 2014 the number only increased to 34 percent.

Retailers that are planning to execute loyalty campaigns targeting back-to-school shoppers this holiday season said they would use the following methods:

  • 21% Social Media
  • 14% Paper Coupons
  • 13% Plastic Loyalty Cards
  • 9% Mobile Apps
  • 9% Others
  • 6% Paper Punch Cards

When consumers we’re asked their preferred method of reaping rewards when shopping for back-to-school items 49 percent chose to receive the rewards through social media.

Developing An Effective Loyalty Program

As a retailer, you want your loyalty program to achieve higher sales and stronger customer relationships, but they are more interested in the rewards than the relationship.

New to loyalty programs?

Here are the top shopper advantages.

  • Immediate rewards: This allows customers to reap rewards as soon as they sign up.
  • Targeted deals (member exclusives): Target your regular shoppers with access to exclusive sales with customized incentives based on information like their personal shopping habits.
  • Souped-up membership cards: Customers typically only regularly carry 1 or 2 membership cards. Enable them to use credit cards or phone numbers as alternatives.
  • Point-earning partnerships: Partnership programs between retailers and online shopping portals are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow customers to earn points from one retailer and redeem them at another.

Long Term Benefits

Beyond increasing sales during the back-to-school shopping season, retailers that implement an effective loyalty program can see significant gains for their business in the months and years ahead.

Loyalty programs can increase a brand’s market share by 20 percent and improve customer acquisition by up to 10 percent.

Email messages sent to loyalty program members result in 40 percent higher open rates, 20 percent higher click through rates, and 10 percent higher sales revenue per message, compared with emails sent to customers who aren’t loyalty members.

Retailers looking to capitalize on the back-to-school season’s big buys have a secret: incentives academic and holiday shopping needs with membership loyalty programs. Make customers feel rewarded for the purchasing decisions now, and they’re likely to remember and return to you in the future.

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