How to improve sales by leveraging your online store
The tide continues to shift. It’s hard to remember a catalog sale without an online store option. Many parents now prefer it over in-person selling because it’s easier and less invasive. Nobody really enjoys approaching friends and family, even if they might owe them back from the last time that they bought from their student.
One would think that promoting 2 ways to raise money would lead to more sales than just 1. In this case, we’re talking about showing a sales brochure in person, as well as promoting an online fundraising store to out of town friends and family.
We took a closer look at our schools from the fall 2018 season and found that online selling accounted for 25% or more of their total sales for 40% of our schools. One school sold a combined $19,346 (brochure plus online), where $12,633 was sold online. That’s just over 65%.
Every one of our top selling schools took advantage of their online store. Yet 23% of our schools still had zero sales online. This means that a significant number of schools are still leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of their online store.
Most of the schools that took advantage of the internet were elementary schools, while those who didn’t tended to be smaller high school groups.
From talking to our sponsors about online fundraisers, we’ve find that they fall into one of 3 camps:
- Sponsors that want all of the details and how electronic selling works. They need to know everything from how students register to how they earn prize credit. In fact, many of these sponsors would rather their students sold online exclusively.
- Schools that promote their online fundraising store simply as a courtesy, or supplement, to selling out of the brochure.
- Those who believe that person to person sales is still the most effective way to raise money. Or, they don’t want to take the time to learn about, let alone promote making internet sales.
We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. It’s hard to believe that we used to call up grandma on the phone and ask her to place an order by describing items in the catalog that we thought she would want to buy. You’d then have to front the money while she mailed you a check. Finally, you’d have to bring her items to her at Christmas..
Once the minor inconvenience of registering students is complete, the online store makes selling much more convenient. It doesn’t take away from brochure sales; rather it’s a viable addition. The hurdle is getting more parents to utilize it. Like many things offered online, it works for you in the background while you go on about your day.
The online store is a fundraising tool that allows your students and parents to automatically reach out to people who don’t have access to your sales brochure. Most stores have a letter template that automatically enters the name and email address that’s provided.
While your sellers can approach people who live close by with the brochure, the online store brings in additional sales from out of town family and friends. This opens up an unlimited number of potential customers throughout the country, not just in your local market.
If your fundraising company offers an online store, how can you get the most out of it?
What follows are some promotional ideas that have been proven to work for many schools that can work for your school as well.
Promote Internet Selling to Parents
Advertise online selling to your parents from the beginning. It’s always a good idea to highlight your online store web address in your parent information letter. This comes home in your student packets on the day of your kickoff. Most stores provide easy to follow step by step instructions on how to get your students registered.
Many schools strategically schedule their fundraiser to start right after their ‘back to school night’ or PTA meeting. This is a great opportunity to promote your sale and get the word out about internet selling. One powerful way to present your store is to project the registration process and even an actual sale’s transaction on a large screen for all to see how easy it is.
Most companies require that students register in order for the school to receive online store profit from sales made online. Students also earn prize credit that are added to any brochure sales.
Discuss Online Selling at Your Kickoff Meeting
Your students will only take your online store seriously if you do. Don’t just mention selling online as an afterthought. Rather make it a priority by talking with your students at your kickoff about it. You can even offer an example of how they can make a sale. Additional fundraising profit is at stake. So is the opportunity for students to reach higher prize levels.
Gain their commitment to ask mom and dad to visit your online store website once they get home. Some students will be motivated enough to watch their parents register them. Show them where information about online selling can be found in the parent letter. In addition, companies should provide online store information on throughout their brochures.
Share Your Online Fundraising Store Link
Utilize the power of social media, and better yet, be sure to promote the idea of getting your parents to share it on their social channels as well. This is where friends and family reside so they’re much more likely to make a sale.
Here are the steps that you and your parents can follow to post on social media:
- Copy and paste the online store link into the ‘write a post’ section of Facebook for example.
- Replace the link with a compelling reason for the action that you want people to take. Be sure to provide the student’s code so they can get the credit for the sale.
- Upload a relatable photo. In other words, tell people why you’re asking them to visit the website. Good imagery is key because we are all visual by nature. So make it eye-catching. Finally, post it.
Promote the Simplicity of Selling Online
Many companies will ask parents to register their students before either the school gets any sales profit, or the students receive prize credit. Registering and harvesting names and email addresses to enter into the system is the hard part.
Once registered, students are assigned specific numbers that will then be passed onto recipients through automated emails. Some company stores allow for even greater personalization of the message that’s sent out while others don’t provide a template. In this case, parents can create their own using Microsoft Word and only changing the contact names each time.
Once recipients purchase items on the store, students receive the prize credit and the school receives the profit. Some companies allow sponsors to track online store sales and even provide actual internet prize incentives to get students to send out email invitations.
If promoted effectively, online store sales can mean a lot of additional profit for your school. And here’s another great plus. You don’t have to worry about receiving any deliveries because products ordered online are shipped directly to the buyer. Nothing’s any easier than that.