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Back-to-School’s Hottest Trends: Mobile Commerce & Snapchat

With back-to-school season swiftly approaching, many retailers are finalizing their strategies of driving mobile-enabled sales among digitally-savvy students and time-strapped parents.

Whereas pre-September shopping previously consisted of a day at the mall with a potential quick detour to an office supplies store, this ritual is completed mostly – if not entirely – on smartphones and tablets these days. The ease of selecting complimentary or speedy shipping far outweighs the notion of spending hours at a brick-and-mortar store, meaning that marketers must be ready to meet customers on their most-frequented platforms.

In recent years, brands have spent big money on Facebook ads, primarily with the intention of enticing an individual to browse the featured product on the retailer’s site and make the purchase there, or come in-store to inspect it more thoroughly. While this strategy may have been effective at planting the seed of inspiration in consumers’ minds for back-to-school season, the mobile commerce evolution has ushered in a new variety of must-have, revenue-generating tactics.

Shoppable Snapchats: Retailers with primarily young customer bases – such as American Eagle Outfitters, H&M, and Forever 21 – may want to latch onto the latest up-and-coming mobile commerce trend: shoppable Snapchat. Although Snapchat and fellow photo-sharing app Instagram have historically been tricky to navigate in the monetization stakes, affiliate marketing programs are now changing the landscape.

Sephora is the latest marketer to allow its Snapchat followers to purchase items featured in its live Stories by screenshotting the image of the favorite item and uploading it to the ShopStyle iOS app. ShopStyle is already well-known among plenty of millennials and younger consumers, due to the plethora of fashion bloggers and social influencers who link products to the ecommerce platform. ShopStyle may end up eclipsing a local mall in terms of amount of back-to-school traffic it receives, particularly if retailers play their cards right.

Marketers with younger audiences may want to brainstorm ways of showcasing their products on Snapchat in a way that will fuel followers to impulsively buy a new piece of clothing, accessory, cosmetics item or even electronics product. While Instagram’s shoppable advertisements may still hold some potency, the cool factor of saying “I bought my new dress off Snapchat” offers a novelty experience that many young students are sure to enjoy.

Influencer partnerships: Marketers that do not have large enough followings to warrant a Snapchat account can get their back-to-school items in front of parents’ and target customers’ eyes by way of smart partnerships with social influencers. Influencers run the gamut from lifestyle, fashion, and mommy bloggers to YouTube stars. As individuals begin hunting for back-to-school inspiration ahead of late August and early September – for anything from “first day” looks to dorm décor – social media will likely be the first stop. Giving a social influencer creative control over curating or styling a featured product can make it seem more accessible – or even aspirational – for a target demographic.

Even if certain consumers do not regularly follow or interact with any influencers, the power of SEO can point them to several bloggers’ or vloggers’ accounts, where they might stumble upon a must-have item. For example, if a mobile user searches for “back-to-school makeup trends,” she could potentially come across a sponsored post from a beauty guru detailing the trendiness of coral-colored lipsticks, which she may then be inspired to purchase.

Ultimately, back-to-school-oriented mobile commerce is all about identifying which channels younger consumers and their parents will be active on during crucial shopping months – and then making a plan to establish as strong of a presence as possible on those channels. The sales cincher? A welcome discount or BOGO coupon that will make the consumer unable to leave the chosen product in mobile purgatory: the abandoned shopping cart. 

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Editor, The Mobile Retail Blog

Editor-in-Chief of The Mobile Retail Blog with NewStore.

Topics: mobile commerce

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