Your Shoppers Are Stressed – Here’s What You Can Do to Help: Learning From the 2014 Back to School Season

By: Susan Ganeshan

September 16, 2014

Back to School shopping is widely considered the 2nd biggest shopping event of the year.[i] This year, Clarabridge evaluated over 2 million social media mentions of Back to School shopping to find out what customers experienced. Here are three important findings:

Clothing beats supplies

In both the US and the UK, finding the right school uniform is the biggest stressor for Back to School shoppers on social media, who talked most frequently about prices and quality of productions. Of the retailers we looked at, JCPenney ranked the highest for customer service based on social sentiment.

Just looking at what is talked about most doesn’t tell the whole story, however. It is also important to look at both the volume and the tone of voice. For example, we can see specifically that shirts were the most mentioned individual product, followed by pencils.  But when it comes to discussion specifically focused on cost, both positive and negative, the most talked about item is paper.

So while you might think you need to make the best offers on your most talked about item, sometimes you have to look at the items where people are most cost-conscious – in this case, paper. Being able to dive deeper into the data, see the relationships among words, and understand how people are feeling – that’s what gives you the insights to drive business decisions.

Shoppers procrastinate, and they’re totally stressed

For both moms and dads, Back to School shopping peaked about 3 weeks before the first day of school, which was also when their stress levels were the highest.

When your customers experience stress, find creative ways to counter it.  Car dealers are good about this: they get customers snacks during the nerve-wracking financing process. For retailers, here are some ways to help shoppers to de-stress during peak shopping times:

*  Make your omni-channel experience seamless. If a customer places an online order to pick up in the store, make sure the order goes through and the customer is notified when the items are ready for pickup.
*  Offer water or a snack to fuel customers (or their cranky kids) as they shop.
*  Help customers find parking during peak shopping times. Consider staffing your parking lot with staff to help identify empty parking spaces.

For retailers or any other industry, the best way to reduce stress is to be available to engage.

Be ready to engage when customers are ready to talk

As shoppers work to beat the back to school rush, they will share about their experience or ask questions on Twitter, Facebook, or your store website. Make sure you staff appropriately during peak shopping season to handle the volume of requests.  We love a story from Tesco this Back to School season: one mom tweeted at Tesco and 3 other UK retailers looking for an evasive school uniform shirt, and 3 of 4 retailers replied to help, including Tesco.  Brand loyalty abounds from engagement. Kudos to retailers who are responding from all channels!

What are your customers saying about you?

Clarabridge captured who was talking this Back to School season, what products they were looking for, and when and why they were stressed. We can help you learn more about your business too.

Back to School Clarabridge Infographic