The average projected back-to-school spending per household in the U.S. has progressively climbed year on year and is expected to reach around $890 in 2023!
This is a huge opportunity for eCommerce store owners. But in order to make the most of it, you will have to ensure you’re prepared and ready to meet customer demands.
With such promising spending opportunities, you’re going to want to properly prepare your store to cater to the influx of students and parents searching for school supplies, clothing, and electronics.
In this article, we will provide valuable insights and tips on simplifying back-to-school retail Strategy and ensuring a seamless customer journey. Let’s dive in so you can make the most out of this lucrative season and give your customers a shopping experience they’ll come back for.
When and Why You Should Get Prepared
The back-to-school season typically starts in late July or early August, depending on the region and academic calendar. For some, Amazon Prime Day (held around mid-July) has become the unofficial starting point for the back-to-school shopping season.
This period presents a significant opportunity for retailers, as millions of students and parents gear up for the new school year.
According to recent statistics, back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined in the United States alone amounted to over $100 billion in the previous year, making it a crucial period for eCommerce businesses.
Tips to Crush the Back-to-School Season
1. Appeal to the students
Traditionally, most brands focused their marketing efforts on parents during the back-to-school season. However, in recent years, students have become more proactive in making purchasing decisions. To cater to this trend, it’s important that you tailor your marketing strategies to resonate with younger audiences.
Here are a few ways to do this…
a) Focus on online shopping
The convenience of online shopping holds incredible appeal to today's tech-savvy students. As an eCommerce business, you’re already one step ahead.
But you also need to ensure that your eCommerce platform is user-friendly, with a seamless checkout process. Make sure you offer relevant product categories and recommendations that align with students’ needs, making it easier for them to find and purchase the products on their list.
b) Tap into social media
If you want to appeal to students, you have to go where they hang out: Social media.
Engage with your target audience on popular social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Leverage influencers or student ambassadors to promote your products and create buzz around your back-to-school offerings, and tap into user-generated content and authentic testimonials to significantly boost customer loyalty.
c) Learn more about Generation Alpha
Don't forget the youngest generation! Generation Alpha, the children born after 2010, are moving into focus as they turn 13 this year. Look into trends that might apply to the products you sell to see a pop in your top line during this season. Gen Alpha’s shopping habits are unique, and retailers would be remiss to underestimate their influence on family purchasing decisions.
2. Run promotions and start early
a) Look at trends for different regions
Back-to-school spending patterns can vary significantly from one region to another. Because of this, it’s important to analyze the data from previous years to identify the peak shopping periods in the location you’re focusing on.
For example, holidays and local events can influence shopping behaviour. By aligning your promotions with these occasions, you can attract more customers and increase sales during the back-to-school season.
b) Take inflation into account and run discounts
Inflation has been affecting consumer spending patterns all year. Students and parents might be more price-sensitive, seeking discounts and deals to stretch their budgets.
In light of this economic climate, running sales and offering exclusive discounts can be a powerful strategy to attract customers in these challenging times.
c) Offer rewards and incentives
Encourage customer loyalty by offering rewards and incentives during the back-to-school season.
Consider implementing a loyalty program that offers discounts, free shipping, or exclusive perks for repeat customers. This will not only increase customer retention but also incentivize new customers to return for future purchases.
3. Up your shipping game
As an eCommerce store, your shipping options can make a huge difference to customers. Here are some ways you can win them over this back-to-school season.
a) Offer last-minute order delivery
While some people start early, you can’t forget the late buyers. During the back-to-school season, many customers may procrastinate on their shopping or have last-minute needs. With these customers, offering last-minute order delivery options can be a game-changer for your business.
At eShipper, we have an extensive network of reliable carriers, making us your perfect partner to help you offer last-minute order delivery options.
With our wide reach and efficient same-day and next-day shipping solutions, you can ensure that your customers receive their essential school supplies and equipment right when they need them and in time for the first day of classes.
By providing reliable and timely deliveries, you can build trust and loyalty with your customers, encouraging them to return for their future back-to-school shopping needs (and beyond!)
b) Make sure your shipping costs are reasonable (or free) for customers
According to Forbes, lackluster shipping options is the number 1 reason consumers abandon carts. Alternatively, free shipping leads to more sales: 84% have specifically made a purchase because shipping was free, and 30% said they always increase the size of their orders if it qualifies them for free shipping.
Clearly, it’s important to ensure your shipping options aren’t deterring customers from making their purchases.
Here at eShipper, we have cost-effective solutions for eCommerce owners, with up to 70% discounts on all major carriers. It’s one more reason not to let your customers pay more than they should or allow your business to miss out on potential sales!
4. Optimize your business to achieve the highest profitability
One of the key challenges for eCommerce store owners during the back-to-school season is managing expenses while achieving profitability.
Here are some ways you can simplify your Strategy and crush the back-to-school rush.
a) Invest in inventory management
Efficient inventory management is crucial during the back-to-school season. Look at whatever applies to your niche – you need to ensure that your store is well-stocked with popular school products, stationery items, clothing or laptops to meet the increased demand. While doing this, use data from previous years to forecast demand and avoid overstocking or understocking.
eShipper’s inventory management tools can be a game-changer for you. By using our platform, you can gain real-time visibility into your inventory levels, automate reordering processes, and optimize stock allocation. This will not only reduce the risk of stockouts but also improve overall operational efficiency.
b) Enhance your order processing
With the surge in back-to-school orders, order processing efficiency becomes even more important than usual.
Customers expect quick and accurate order processing to ensure they receive the right products on time. Manual order processing can be time-consuming and prone to errors, leading to customer dissatisfaction. That’s where automation comes in!
eShipper's order processing solutions can streamline your operations significantly, with automated order processing that enables you to process a higher volume of orders with greater accuracy and speed. This means happier customers and a more efficient Strategy process for your business!
c) Optimize your website for mobile
Statistics reveal that half of millennial parents do back-to-class shopping on their mobile devices. Don’t miss out on this huge proportion of potential customers, and make sure your website is ready to use on any device.
And if we’re seeing these numbers for parents, it’s safe to say that if you’re appealing to students themselves, they’ll be looking for new gear and gadgets on their phones too!
5. Prioritize customer experience and loyalty
Ultimately, customer experience is at the heart of a successful back-to-school retail season (or any busy season, in reality).
While you’re looking to maximize your bottom line right now, let’s not forget that it’s not just about the numbers; there are stressed parents and anxious kids on the other side of your store, and truly taking care of your customers at this time makes all the difference.
To enhance the customer experience, it’s important to provide excellent support and promptly address any inquiries or issues. Make sure you’re there to support customers when they really need it – it’s what will ensure they come back next semester.
As the back-to-school season approaches, eCommerce store owners need to be prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities it presents.
By simplifying back-to-school retail Strategy and leveraging our solutions at eShipper, you can ensure a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience for your customers.
Just remember to apply the tips we’ve covered today:
- Appeal to trends that families will be buying into
- Run promotions, sales, and reward programs early, considering regional trends and the impact of inflation
- Offer reasonably priced (or free) and last-minute delivery options
- Optimize your inventory management and order processing
- Focus on the customer experience
Here at eShipper, we can work with you to make the back-to-school season a resounding success for your eCommerce business. Contact us to get started and learn more about how we can support your fulfillment needs.
We’re excited to watch your eCommerce business soar to new heights during this year's back-to-school rush. Happy selling!