Back-to-school Can Mean Multiple Active Carts for Gen X Shoppers

Colin came home from his first day of second grade armed with a comprehensive list of supplies requested by his teacher. This year, he will need a pencil case that can hold at least six pencils (made of cloth, not plastic or vinyl), a five-subject notebook with visible plastic tabs separating the subjects (wide-ruled, not college-ruled), and a pair of safety scissors with plastic blades. His mother hits her favorite search engine with this list in hand to find all of the items. 

The safety scissors were easy; she found those right away at her favorite online discount retailer. The notebook took a little more digging, but she found it at another retailer she likes. It also carries cloth pencil cases, but only ones with Pokemon on them -- Colin is into Dragon Ball Z this year, so she has to find that at a third retailer. She knows not to close out any of these open carts just yet because the teacher responsible for crafts only comes in on Thursday, and who knows what her list will look like. Colin’s sister is also starting sixth grade next week, and she’s taking art this year and is sure to need plenty of supplies. 



None of these carts are abandoned they are active and will be purchased soon. Now is the perfect time for brands to entice parents everywhere to add products to one of these active online carts. 

Active carts create opportunity for online marketers

Active carts are fairly typical scenarios all of the time, not just during the back-to-school season. According to research, the average shopper has two to three active carts at any moment. But the back-to-school “hunt for the perfect pencil pouch” presents opportunities for new retailers to get in the carting rotation, and particularly for lower-involvement products like CPG to get tossed in amidst the school supplies.  

Colin’s mother is a great example. She has carts open at three different retailers, simultaneously, that she will be converting on within a week or so. Right now, though, a CPG marketer that partners with one of the retailers where she already has an active cart only has to convince her to add a product. The cart is already there and she is going to convert on it. Now, if she sees a product that grabs her interest, clicking on it and adding it to her cart is simple and fast.

Do you have a new peanut-free snack that would be allowed in Colin’s school that banned all nut products? Maybe you’re marketing a new detergent that gets dirt out of clothes better. If you’re a manufacturer, this is one of the easiest times of the year to get parents everywhere to add your product to online carts that are already open and active. If you’re a retailer, now is the time to partner with brands to get more products added to carts and increase total cart value.  

Reaching beyond back to school

The end of “back to school” does not mean an end to shopping for Colin’s mom. More and more, consumers are treating online carts like shopping lists. Smart brands support and extend this behavioral trend by making it super-easy to add products to favorite retailer carts. They aim to get the products into the carts, and leave it to the retailers to drive the conversion. The final conversion happens when it’s convenient for the consumer. Colin’s mom may push the “buy” button a week later on the way to drop him off at school, then stop by the grocery store on her way home and have the items brought out to her trunk.

As more discounters and grocery stores embrace e-commerce for sales and on-site pick-up or home delivery for fulfillment, these carting patterns are becoming more common. CPG marketers who fit their marketing to consumer behavior — rather than trying to do the inverse — will be the winners in the coming years.

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