Fall is here, and students have returned to schools around the country. As new arrivals explore the area and upperclassmen seek out new experiences, they’ll all be looking for stores and restaurants to frequent over the coming months—and for merchants, this represents a major opportunity. Here are some simple ways to appeal to students and have them returning to your store over the coming school year:

1. Show some personality. The simple truth is that everyone—young or old—prefers a place with personality. You’re only going to return to a particular store again and again if you enjoyed the service and experience. There’s no one path to personality, of course; some places have a no-frills appeal, while others have a laid-back and friendly vibe. But you need to be distinct to have return customers.

2. Offer specials and discounts. It’s safe to say that most people remember being tight on cash in their student days, and not much has changed in that regard. Students are always going to be conscious of price, and if you offer a student discount or a student-specific loyalty program, it’s not only going to ensure the price is at their level, it’s going to show you’re doing your best to make their lives easier. And lower prices will transform into greater revenue if you sell a higher quantity, as so many retailers see in their reporting.

3. Market yourself to them. If you’re in an area near students, you may need to reach out to them directly to capture their interest. There’s plenty of ways to advertise yourself as a friend to students, of course— consider offering free samples on campus, or even handing out merchandise like t-shirts that can create some grass roots advertising. And keep your website modern and updated, especially, since so many young people are constantly on their phones and the web.

4. Reward their loyalty to keep them coming back. If you offer a loyalty program, you’ll have a reason for students to keep coming back and making new memories. After all, anyone who had a “hang out” in high school or college knows that young people like being regulars somewhere and having their own special spot—for many of us, the nostalgia around that location remains for decades. By offering an incentive, you make it a little easier to become the place they’ll return to.

5. Offer great customer service. Study after study shows that technology has become central to quite literally every part of a young person’s life—bear in mind, today’s freshmen were born in 1998 and came of age long after dial-up modems and landlines. Between technology and our short attention spans these days, a student who walks into a store and sees a modern, mobile checkout experience—and the short lines that brings—will feel far more at home than one who sees a single, stationary line.




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