Back-to-School Marketing Tips for Retailers

The National Retail Federation (NRF) considers the back-to-school season the second biggest event on the retail calendar. NRF has been tracking consumer spending for decades, so small businesses—even those not directly selling back-to-school supplies—should take advantage and plan for unique back-to-school marketing ideas.

We list some back-to-school marketing tips for different industries below, based on statistics we gathered.

Back-to-School Marketing Tips for Ecommerce Shops

After a very challenging 2020, families have been looking forward to this year’s back-to-school season, even if only more than half of the students expect to return to in-class learning for the school year. However, even with the renewed enthusiasm to spend, it is most likely that pandemic-influenced shopping habits are here to stay.

What does that mean? More families (39%) still choose to shop online, compared to last year (37%), and searches for deals and promotions also start online, through devices such as smartphones (58%). It is the perfect time to develop e-commerce marketing strategies, along with several tips we outline below.

1. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

Without a mobile-friendly store, back-to-school shoppers might not even know you exist. More people are choosing the convenience of shopping with their smartphones. Consumers find it easier to research products and price comparisons using phone apps, allowing them to make a corresponding purchase.

Here are some tips for upgrading your website to a mobile-friendly online store:

  • Use a responsive design. This means your website content will look the same regardless of the device, browser, or operating system used by the customer’s smartphone.
  • Keep both content and navigation features simple.
  • Enable saved shopping carts for incomplete or abandoned checkouts. People who go about their busy day will complete a purchase if they can pick up where they left off in the buying process, regardless of whether they are using a different device.
  • Add buttons that are easy to use with the thumb or index finger.
  • Position your calls to action (CTAs) properly. Specifically, your add to cart button should be visible even on a small screen.
  • Optimize your images so they are quick to load and avoid losing the customer’s attention.
  • Accept guest checkouts. This helps minimize the instances of abandoned carts because customers prefer to complete the checkout stage as quickly as possible.

2. Offer Free Shipping for Back-to-School Items

Consumers nowadays expect free shipping, and sellers who offer it see higher sales and fewer dropped carts. If you don’t already provide free shipping, try offering it for a minimum purchase amount. This encourages buyers to increase small orders to receive free shipping, and you can market it in your back-to-school promotions. As you prepare for the rush, be sure that you’re getting the best rates on every shipment by using top shipping rate comparison software.

3. Display Back-to-School Products on Special Webpages & Menus

Create unique back-to-school landing pages on your site to highlight back-to-school features, specials, and discounts. Also, try adding special back-to-school categories to your store menu to help buyers navigate to the types of products they want and shop quickly. Add prominent links to these special sections from your homepage and blog and include them in email and social media marketing.

4. Use In-Cart Coupons & Dropped Cart Remarketing

Don’t let shoppers walk away from their online cart without a fight. Implement in-cart coupon pop-ups to encourage shoppers to complete their sales without leaving. If they do, use dropped cart pop-ups that offer even more savings or another incentive, like a gift, to entice wavering buyers to complete their purchase.

Back-to-School Marketing Ideas for Clothing & Shoe Stores

Most shopping decisions made during the back-to-school season depend on how good deals are. Since 60% of those who plan to shop expect to spend the most money on clothing and shoes, this is where parents and young adults are on the lookout for deals that give them the most for their budget.

1. Improve Your Loyalty Program Using a POS

Retail businesses are putting a focus on improving their loyalty program continuously to match customer expectations. This will allow companies to provide better benefits that will translate to more members and increase sales. To do this, retail business owners should look for a more customized loyalty program that customers want.

Vend is a retail point-of-sale (POS) system that includes customer management and loyalty software features, allowing retailers to build their custom programs. Design a loyalty program that’s simple to manage and makes joining easy for your customers. Visit Vend today.

2. Sell Apparel That Is in Demand

Your available products must be ones that will interest potential customers. This means you need to find out which items are in demand and will most likely be bought. You can’t expect that the back-to-school products you had on display last year will be as popular again this year automatically.

Some tips to consider when evaluating your products are:

  • Know local school requirements: Get accurate school supply, athletic gear, and uniform lists from your area school districts, and make your stock purchases accordingly. Nothing is more frustrating for parents or store owners than making returns because something didn’t match a school requirement. So, stick to the list to ensure your products are sold.
  • Stock up on bestselling essentials: Don’t be afraid to stock up on basics and other fast-moving essentials when purchasing back-to-school stock. However, be wary of splurging on specialty or seasonal goods. Once the school rush is over, it can be hard to move things like locker decor and unicorn-emblazoned binders. Keep the fancy add-ons to a minimum and, if you notice them dragging during the rush, display them by your checkout with deep back-to-school discounts to move them out fast.

Many factors influence a customer’s buying decision, and you need to stay updated. This will help ensure that you have the right products on display and avoid losing customers to your competitors.

3. Create Smart Displays Using Strategic Product Layouts

Turn your power walls and other prime in-store real estate into back-to-school blowout displays that lure your customers in and entice them to buy. Maximize these key selling spots using tried-and-true retail store layout methods to keep your space organized and easy to navigate. Use must-buy essentials like uniforms and school apparel to draw buyers in, allow ample space for movement on busy days, and keep your impulse-buy areas well stocked with inexpensive add-ons.

4. Provide Special Discounts for Teachers

When it comes to the back-to-school season, teachers need to prepare themselves as much as students, so retailers should not forget teachers in their target market. Teachers will also need to update their wardrobes with sensible and functional articles to help them perform their duties at school.

However, unlike students, they might have different priorities and budgeting concerns that affect their buying decisions. This opens an opportunity for retailers to set themselves apart by giving special attention to teachers when offering discounts.

Here are some discount ideas you can try:

  • Start a loyalty program that allows teachers to earn points for each dollar they spend; they can use them to save money on their next purchase
  • Create a one-day exclusive sale for teachers during back-to-school season
  • Offer special teacher discounts for customer referrals

Teachers appreciate shops that recognize their roles as educators. By providing them with exclusive discounts, you build a more extensive customer base and improve your company’s brand.

Back-to-School Marketing Ideas for Electronic & Gadget Stores

The shift to digital technologies is evident, even in education. Forty-four percent admitted to buying fewer traditional school supplies because they are spending the same or more on online resources such as gadgets, educational tool licenses, and platform subscriptions—an increase from 40% last year. And shopping online is the preferred method for tech product purchases, with 35% buying from online-only stores.

1. Offer Financing, Repairs & Upgrades for Electronics

During the back-to-school season, parents may want to spend money on new technology. However, sending a kid to school is expensive without buying school equipment, so the latest electronics might not be first on their list of priorities. It’s a great time to offer customer financing to potential customers who can’t buy your products outright. Aside from increasing the number of visitors to your store, it can also increase the average purchase amount per customer.

Upgrades and repairs go hand in hand. If you offer upgrades, you end up with an older smartphone, laptop, or PC model that you can either refurbish or break apart for parts. This will allow you to also offer repair services as an additional income stream for your business.

2. Revamp Online Marketing Initiatives for Electronic Inventory

About one-third of back-to-school shopping is done virtually, making online marketing important in attracting business leads and generating revenue. For electronics and gadget retailers, this means making sure that product listings are up-to-date and descriptions are accurate. It also requires establishing a customer service strategy to serve your online customers better.

Here are some ideas on how electronic retailers can boost their online marketing:

  • Market promos through eye-catching visuals and photos on your social media pages, such as Facebook and Instagram.
  • Update your website homepage to display any visuals about your back-to-school promos.
  • Choose a good customer relationship management (CRM) software in place to capture business leads. The back-to-school season often drives heavier than usual traffic to your website, and a CRM helps keep things organized. Use targeted lead magnet tools such as pop-ups, newsletter sign-ups, and contact forms on your website.

The end-of-summer season is an ideal time to reevaluate your online presence and spruce up your website before the busy season starts again. With so many students relying more on their gadgets to aid in their education, it won’t be difficult for business owners to find a way to market their products effectively to their target audience.

3. Capitalize on Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays

Many states have sales tax holidays during the back-to-school shopping season. Maximize your sales on these busy shopping days by making it easy for shoppers to find tax-free goods. Do this by tagging eligible items or creating a sales tax holiday category to list tax-free products you sell. If you collect taxes in participating states, be sure to understand your state’s tax collection rules and adjust the tax collection function in your cart for each state accordingly.

Wrapping up

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