At the beginning of every school year, teachers and educators must set up their classrooms, decorate and ensure they have all the materials they need to kick off the back-to-school season.
Becker’s School Supplies sells to teachers as well as parents who want to buy additional materials for their children’s classrooms, according to Robert Bonczkiewicz, Catalog Manager for the company. Now owned and operated by the third generation of the Becker family, the business is focused on moving to the web, adding to its current catalog and brick-and-mortar business.
“Our target customer for our catalog side of the business is mostly schools, child care centers, and other facilities — that’s our B2B business,” said Bonczkiewicz in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The retail stores are primarily stocked to accommodate the needs of teachers in the classroom or parents looking to provide their children with a little extra help. Also, an increasing portion of our business is in the toys, games and gift area. Many parents are looking for gifts that offer ‘value’ other than electronic gadgets that may not help to develop or enhance a child’s educational needs.”
To help “bridge the gap” between the catalog business and its eight retail stores, Becker’s School Supplies recently re-launched its e-Commerce site in partnership with WebLinc, an e-Commerce platform and services provider. Shortly after unveiling the new site, the retailer saw a 120% increase in revenue versus 2012, and an 81% jump in transaction volume.
“The early phase of our merchandising mix on the site focused on the core part of our business – B2B – and therefore involved getting all catalog-type products onto the site,” Bonczkiewicz explained. “The focus moving forward will be to get more of the retail products merchandised.”
Streamlining Design To Meet The Needs Of Shoppers
Featuring a more streamlined design and improved functionality, the new e-Commerce site has helped Becker’s School Supplies “finally provide our customer base with an ordering and shopping tool they are happy with,” Bonczkiewicz said. “That’s what it comes down to — satisfying customers’ needs. I’m confident we’re doing that.”
New site features that are especially valuable to customers include improved product merchandising, which helps teachers find the exact product they want at the right price. Site search and navigation also contributes to the new online shopping experiences.
Becker’s also has thrown content into the mix, adding extra value to the web site. The Resource Café provides teachers and childcare providers with a series of free ideas and educational resources to help them do their jobs better.
As part of their ongoing relationship, Becker’s School Supplies and WebLinc have established a plan to make “regular changes and updates to the site virtually every month,” Bonczkiewicz reported. “We have a lengthy to-do list of items we just couldn’t complete for launch, mostly due to our own time or budget constraints. But now that we’re getting a taste of some success, we’re looking to generate enough additional revenue to begin tackling improvement projects.”