Grading Back to School: Walmart Caters to College Kids + Advertisers Target Netflix

Each week this summer, FN is offering a roundup of essential news, data and analysis about the important back-to-school (BTS) selling season.

Walmart’s College Try

In the ongoing race of the retailers, Walmart has been steadily rolling out various customer fulfillment methods to get products to shoppers where and when they need them. Its curbside pickup program, for instance, has proven to be increasingly popular for busy families, and the firm earlier this year upped the digital ante when it debuted next-day delivery on online orders over $35 (with no membership fee — um, Amazon Prime). Its latest service, called Order & Hold, is aimed squarely at college-age shoppers. Through the website, kids can shop and order online locally and then have the merchandise or furniture held for pickup at a store near their college until Sept. 1, when the special BTS program ends. “This way students don’t have to lug big items like futons or couches,” said Tiffany Wilson, director of Walmart corporate communications. “It’s a great service for parents and college students, for you to get the item in your state without having to ship it.”

Streaming Ads Pick Up

The way Americans consume entertainment is changing rapidly with the rise of online streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix — and advertisers are following the trend. A recent report from ad platform ZypMedia found that over-the-top advertising (OTT) on digital viewing services represents 40% of back-to-school campaigns, only slightly less than more-traditional digital display campaigns (44%). It makes sense that companies would particularly target video-on-demand platforms, since Nielsen’s latest Local Watch Report finds that streamers are younger, earn more and tend to be more educated than non-streamers. Overall, according to Nielsen, 56% of U.S. adults can be classified as streamers, up from 48% in 2018.

Payment Options

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that shoppers like having options — and that apparently also applies to how they pay. Payment solutions firm Splitit recently commissioned a consumer survey that found 35% of shoppers would spend more on back-to-school items if retailers offered flexible payment options, such as interest-free installments or a “buy-now, pay later” program. Other factors that would encourage them to spend more were free shipping (37%) and discount promotions (29%). In addition to Splitit, a number of payment companies have emerged in recent years, such as Quadpay, Klarna and Afterpay, and their services have caught on with younger shoppers. In fact, in the Splitit survey, 23% of Generation Z respondents said they might buy more with payment options, and another 27% said that such services would help them avoid overspending.

Nordstrom & Shoe Giving

Like other companies this BTS season, Nordstrom is taking the opportunity to aid the less fortunate. The retailer has teamed up with the nonprofit Shoes That Fit to make sure children in low-income households head back to school with the right footwear. From Aug. 5 to Sept. 15, customers at any U.S. Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack or Last Chance location (or on one of its websites) will have the option to purchase a $10 Shoes That Fit giving card, and all proceeds from the sale of the card will go toward providing a pair of sneakers to a child in need in the local community. “The simple gift of new athletic shoes can be a new lease on life for a child when they start the school year,” Amy Fass, CEO and executive director at Shoes That Fit, said in a statement.

Want More?

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Get career advice from Saucony president Anne Cavassa:

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