Connecting your school community requires a range of resources, hard work, and innovation. However, one method is often overlooked, a tool with the potential to dramatically impact how your families engage with your brand — an online school store.
An online school store can be an essential part of your marketing, branding, and development strategy. School stores help to unify the style and branding across your school or district by directing your entire community to one streamlined system to secure the most popular merchandise and official branded apparel.
Alumni, graduates, students, newly accepted families, grandparents — even the family pet — can easily show their school spirit and share their excitement, all with just a few clicks.
But without a way to properly manage a school store, it can be easy for outdated styles, unbranded logos, colors, and swag to become a confusing guessing game of what’s approved, what’s in stock, and how to order it. Slowly, it can start to dissolve your visual brand identity, lose your school money, and leave your biggest fans out of luck.
Supporting school spirit and building a cohesive brand identity is now easier with Finalsite Store, a convenient and flexible way for schools and districts to create and manage an online school store with powerful tools and features.
Let’s dive into how Finalsite Store can help your school or district generate additional revenue and build your brand.
Finalsite Store – An Online Store for Schools
Finalsite Store is the latest Composer module that allows your school or district to sell spirit wear, merchandise, school supplies, and more to all your constituents and biggest fans.
Replacing an older module, Commerce Manager, Finalsite Store provides an online shopping experience similar to what customers would want and expect from large online retailers — a modern interface, numerous payment options that support multiple currencies, and a simple but secure checkout process that ensures PCI compliance,
And because Finalsite Store is embedded within your school’s current website, the interface keeps users on your site and can be easily adjusted to match your school’s or district’s current website branding.
Colleen Adams, director of marketing and communications at Fairfield Prep, shared that when they launched their first school store it allowed them to centralize their operation.
"We went through our own rebranding with logo updates and color guidelines because many of the athletic teams were ordering their own uniforms, and it was getting inconsistent," Colleen said.
Prior to launch, all the items and official merchandise had to be designed, ordered, and approved to match the logo and color guidelines before it went up on the website and store. Once the store was live and the orders came in, the visual consistency was felt around campus.
"It is very satisfying when you go to a football game and the stands are filled with people wearing red Prep spirit wear — from babies to grandparents.”
Finalsite Store Features
Opening and managing a successful online school store shouldn’t require a business degree. With all the features of Finalsite Store, you’ll be open for business in no time.
Store Dashboard: Reporting and Analytics
As the store administrator, you can easily manage your school’s favorite merchandise, swap out items, add new sizes, set custom pricing, and more through the intuitive dashboard.
To help you manage your online store effectively, Finalsite Store provides a helpful report that tells you where your shoppers come from, how much they spent, what products they brought, and how your special offers perform. Sales reports can be filtered and exported, and Google Analytics can be leveraged to measure conversions, review searched keywords, and remarket to shoppers who have previously visited your store.
Your community comes in all shapes, sizes, and preferences, so by selling products with a range of colors, sizing, and styles, you’ll be offering options to suit every need and taste.
Product variations are unique sets of options for products that come in different sizes and colors, like a t-shirt with two sizes and two colors, for example. When you’re out of a specific variation, you can mark specific items as “Out of Stock” to prevent shoppers from ordering that option.
The product variation options within Finalsite Store are useful for assigning images to each option your product has, automatically adjusting prices depending on the options your customer selects, and tracking inventory with unique SKUs for each variation to prevent overselling.
Discounts and Gift Cards
Creating incentives, discounts, and offering coupons will help items move off shelves and boost sales — who doesn’t love a deal?
Finalsite Store allows you to create and manage a variety of discount options for your shopper, like discount percentages, limited-time offers, and promo codes. In addition, you can create and sell electronic gift cards for any amount you specify.
Shoppers can purchase, redeem, and spend their gift cards in your Store the same way they would on other online stores. They can even buy and send the gift cards to friends or family via email, and use cards in multiple orders until it’s fully redeemed.
As a Store administrator, you can see the statistics for gift cards sold, including how much revenue gift cards have generated, gift cards that have been redeemed, and the amount of revenue still unclaimed from sold gift cards.
Featured Products and Limited Offers
Want to feature specific items or highlight a special sale? With Finalsite Store, you can add ribbons and subtitles to a product’s description to draw attention to that product by advertising “FREE SHIPPING,” or “LIMITED TIME ONLY,” and other special offers to help convert users.
Additionally, you can guarantee specific products are seen by everyone who visits your school store by featuring them in your Featured Products section. This is perfect for showcasing products that are on sale or only available for a limited time.
Sell Online and In-person Courses
With the popularity of virtual and hybrid events, Finalsite Store offers the ability to sell online and in-person courses, such as a driver’s education course at your school, for example.
As a Store administrator, you have the flexibility to create these courses for specific days of the week, with multiple instructors to pick from, limit the number of people who can purchase the course, and set the cost of the course.
For buyers, this allows them to choose the options to best match their schedule. But this isn’t just limited to driver’s ed courses. You can offer a variety of courses online, such as special exam preparation courses, summer events, and more.
Digital and Physical Orders
Once a customer has made a purchase, their order will appear in the Orders section and the Store administrator will receive a notification email.
Orders for digital products or gift cards are automatically fulfilled, while school staff can begin packaging and shipping orders for physical products that need to be shipped. You can also allow buyers to pick up their order directly from your school store or send the order home with a student.
Best Practices for Launching a School Store
Launching a Finalsite Store is easy. A Store Specialist will provide assistance along the way as you and your team create the store’s inventory and prepare the store to go live. Once everything is set and you’re open for business, you’ll have full access to Finalsite’s Support team.
An efficiently run online store can eventually grow into a large, brand-building, and revenue-increasing platform that becomes a core pillar of your school’s marketing strategy.
- Consider launching a new store during a slower time of year so you can ensure your store is ready for the back-to-school rush, the holidays, alumni weekend, or graduation season.
- Before you add a large variety of products to your store, take inventory of what already sells well or select a few items you want to focus on, such as athletic wear or essential school supplies.
- Once your store is ready, make use of Finalsite Portals, Messages, Workflows, and Page Pops to spread the word about holiday discounts, new items, and flash sales to generate and sustain interest during the most profitable time of the year.
An online school store offers a convenient and flexible way to engage your constituents, help build spirit, and provide additional revenue for your school or district with enough options and variety to satisfy any shopper. Help organize and distribute the official branded merchandise that matters most to your community members.
With a mobile-friendly and secure interface embedded directly on your current website, Finalsite Store is a powerful online store with a wide range of tools, features, and options that makes it easier than ever to help connect with your biggest fans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.