How to run a spirit shop on your school website

Public education has been riddled with budget shortfalls. Thirty one states faced budget deficits in the 2017 fiscal year putting schools, in states like Illinois, in a precarious position to choose between things like academic materials and instructional positions. Schools need to get creative to fill these funding gaps. If you run a your school spirit shop on your school website, you might just start filling some of these gaps.

Tapping into the online marketplace is a great place for schools to start. Making cash off of school spirit wear sales is certainly a more welcomed approach rather than imposing fees on families like some schools have done to generate revenue.

Even in tough economic times, you can add e-commerce features to your school’s website. Selling spirit wear online is an ideal place to start.

I know if my wife and I had a dollar for every school t-shirt we bought for our three children…

Monetize with a spirit shop on your school website

The sales of spirit wear can yield profitable margins for schools, while promoting pride and a sense of community. Integrating an online spirit shop into a school’s website allow students and their families to purchase items with ease and feel good about making a contribution to their school from the sale.

A school spirit shop plugged right into your school website eliminates all the traditional hassles spirit shop managers have to deal with: inventory, ordering, payment, shipping, returns, staffing and overall accounting and management.

Families order what they want, 24-7, and shipments can be delivered to the school or straight to the buyer’s home. The sense of ease will be appreciated by staff, students, and their families. Merchandise can be quickly transferred from vendor to buyer instead of people having to wait until the next spirit sale at a school event.

Spirit wear is more than just clothes…

The benefits of having a spirit wear shop go far beyond streamlined processes, reduced overhead and more cash for your school. Consider:

1. Branding

When students and their families proudly sport their spirit wear it sends a message to the greater community that they are connected to a positive place. It can also raise the profile of a speciality club or extracurricular activity that is gaining momentum. Then that ‘Frisbee Golf Club’ fleece zip-up gets passed down to a younger sibling who can’t wait to attend their older sibling’s school.

The traditional collection of school spirit wear is fun, and definitely worth capitalizing on, and there are many other school events that call for a speciality t-shirt or sweatshirt design.

2. Group- and event-based unity

When you send hundreds of students into a museum for a field trip, matching attire is a great way to keep track of your students. With the e-commerce features you could also sell P.E. uniforms as well as speciality attire for band, orchestra, and chorus concerts. Reunions, field days, graduations, and school-wide initiatives are all opportunities to promote these fantastic events, while raising money from spirit wear sales.

3. Engagement

Students are always getting behind positive campaigns like anti-bullying and random acts of kindness so why not support the event through t-shirt sales? T-shirts are a great way to raise awareness for a worthy cause. Sports are also offer many opportunities for spirit wear. And athletes sure do enjoy looking up at the stands and seeing a whole section of spectators rocking school colors as they go to make that three pointer.

Students who are transitioning to middle or high school love to feel connected to their new school and making sales available in the summer months is easy through an electronic store.

Spirit wear builds camaraderie and gives people a tangible way to express their school pride. Parents, grandparents, and siblings can also feel part of the school community and create connections with other families when the school mascot is spotted off campus.

4. Incremental income opportunities

As schools sell more spirit wear, earnings can become more lucrative for schools. Larger scale sales can mean more generous profit margins for a school.  The online transactions are seamless for everyone whether you are selling 500 or 5,000 items.

How to get started with a website-based spirit shop

Start by checking with your CMS provider to see how to go about creating a spirit shop right on your website. Finding the right vendor that meets your needs is key. There are stand-alone programs that you can plug into your website as part of your digital communications plan. Stay tuned for how Campus Suite can help you integrate an online spirit shop into your school website.

Be sure to solicit student input on popular designs. Student taste will drive sales so it may even be helpful to see what colors, fabrics, and styles are in, according to your student body. You’ll get a sense of which items yield the most profits. You may find that t-shirts are far more profitable than sweatshirts when you compare dollar to dollar.

To entice parents to make online purchases of school apparel, schools can use email campaigns to advertise new designs and make them aware of special deals. Adding “buy now” buttons to the emails may also lead to higher conversion rates. Promotion through social media, notifications and school mobile apps can are excellent ways to spread the spirit.

Start adding some spirit to your school’s fundraising

Raising cash for your school doesn’t have to mean lugging buckets of soapy water to your school parking lot for a car wash, or sending kids door-to-door making desperate pleas to sell overpriced candy bars. Fundraisers and school drives have often been avenues to raise money, but can be time consuming and logistically challenging.

The outlook for school budgets aren’t showing signs of improvement so school leaders must be open to other sources of financial support. Spirit wear sales tend to be steady and schools are missing out if they don’t reap some of the monetary rewards from these sales.

As commerce continues growing in digital space, schools must keep pace with these trends. No Child Left Behind reminds us that measurable goals are important, so why not have some sales goals for your school to provide valuable resources?

What are other way you might use e-commerce to raise funds for your school?





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Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at jay@campussuite.com or follow him @jay4schools.

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