Kids in a coffee shop

How to Attract The Back-to-School Crowds

As families and students shift into fall mode—and all the shopping that requires—this is a great time to implement strategies to attract customers gearing up for a return to learning. A mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) system can help you attract and retain this crowd, with special deals for students, families, and teachers, targeted online advertising, loyalty programs, and irresistible offers that demonstrate how well you know what your customers want.

Here are six strategies to keep the back-to-school crowds walking through your doors:

Know your audience

Are most of your customers families with young children? Or budget-conscious students setting up a dorm room or apartment? Do you get the early morning coffee and muffin crowd gathering after elementary school drop-off, or the late-night munchies crowd taking a break from studying? The data aggregated by an mPOS system can help you spot trends in busy times of day and popular items, giving you an accurate picture of your customers—and refining to their needs perfectly.

Price it right

Do you have a beloved dish or signature sandwich? Back-to-school is the time to offer a deal or discount on a popular item. Use social media to broadcast your special pricing to these targeted groups, so back-to-school shoppers can schedule errands to take advantage of your deals. Shoppers are also likely to use coupons and daily deals from third-party services such as Living Social or Groupon. With Instore, you can track the amount of redemptions and their net value, to see how well these programs are performing.

Reward loyal followers

A well-planned loyalty program can be a goldmine for small businesses. Research cited in the Harvard Business Review shows that, depending on the industry, getting new customers can cost up to 25 times more than retaining your current customers. Instore lets you build a digitized loyalty program effortlessly—and it helps you prepare for that program perfectly. Our mPOS technology allows you to accumulate accurate information about your customers’ habits, so you can tailor a loyalty reward program leveraging honest data. If you own a restaurant near a university, it may make sense to create a loyalty program geared towards college freshman who are just learning about your brand, and promote it heavily during back-to-school season.

Gifts are great

Do a lot of teachers use your spot to unwind after a long week? Do college students grab coffee and scones on their way to class? Follow in the footsteps of fast food franchises who have pioneered engagement by sending teacher appreciation certificates and coupons to the local schools, or hosting back-to-school parent meetings or teacher gatherings with a meal provided. If your business is near a college campus, talk to the admissions office about giving students at orientation a logo-blazoned tote bag filled with study snacks and coupons, and a mug good for a free drink refill.

Be neighborly

Community building is really at the heart of these campaigns, and reaching out to neighbors is a time-tested method. Are you near a retailer selling laptops, pencils and desk gadgets, or a shopping mall with killer back-to-school discounts? Reach out to these non-competitive business owners and strike a deal. Offer a coupon for a free appetizer or a coffee with purchase of a pastry and try cross-marketing with nearby businesses. Or if your business is based near a college campus, target students by offering extended hours and delivery. As QSR Magazine reports, the CEO of WingZone—a chain with a campus location at Georgia Tech—said he expected more than 60 percent of the restaurant’s orders to be delivery.

As summer winds down, start using an intuitive point-of-sale system to make customer interactions more efficient, so you can provide stellar service on a first visit to your business, and every time thereafter. There are many reasons to use integrated mPOS technology to attract, and keep, the back-to-school crowds, and no reason to wait until Labor Day to implement your strategy.

Photo copyright: Rafiq Sarlie by CC BY 2.0