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Back to School Trends - Not Just for Kids Anymore

Posted by Emily Goodman on July 18, 2017

The back to school retail season is the second biggest opportunity of the year, projected by the National Retail Federation to reach $83.6 Billion this year. This critical shopping season is almost upon you and poised for double-digit growth for the second consecutive year. Preparing for it with sound digital and social media marketing will help you make the most out of a period that is often ignored by brands outside the traditional school supply or kids clothes categories.

Back to School Shopping Has Changed

Parents are no longer wandering around stores, picking out items from a list offered by the school at registration or on the first day back. Instead, they're shopping early, and they're shopping prepared to find deals and adjust to trends. Several new methods have changed the way parents approach this important retail season.

  • Prepackaged supply kits from schools mean that parents may not have to go looking for supplies anymore - and that means that the things they're interested in from your store are the luxury items that will improve their child's school experience. 

  • Many parents prefer to take care of their school shopping online, having their children's school supplies delivered straight to their door. Kits can make this process more cost-effective for online retailers: offer all the items kids in various age levels need for a reduced price, and you'll have parents jumping at the opportunity.

  • Parents who do venture out to stores to shop for their kids' supplies are looking for the best deals on the materials they have to have. 28% plan to shop at an off-price store, up from 10% in 2016.

Know Your Peak Volume Periods

While ecommerce marketers are well-versed in the week to week fluctuations in holiday traffic, few research the opportunities within the back to school season.  More than 70% of back to school shoppers will begin a month or more before school is in session and shoppers hitting the stores before August 1 will spend 16% more than those who shop at the last minute. Many states now offer tax-free weekends around back to school time. Savvy parents consider this the best time to shop so consider localized offers targeting specific regions during these tax free holidays. 

Different categories tend to have different peaks.  Back-to-school shopping for consumer electronics spikes first, then office supplies, and finally clothing/apparel finishes the season. Its generally assumed that students and parents want to preview the latest styles before buying new clothes, so shopping for school clothes can linger well into October.

back to school - homework - shopping.jpegCheck the Supply Lists

Big retailers are often provided with school supply lists ahead of time. If you're a smaller merchant, they may be harder to find. However, obtaining those supply lists may offer you critical insight into the inventory you need to allocate for the coming school year.  It's also imperative to have your SEO and SEM optimized for top keywords which can change every year.  More than 61% of shoppers will research products online before they buy, so ranking high for new keyword opportunities could pay immediate dividends.  For example, a heavy focus on technology means that children may need graphing calculators as early as middle school, while even kindergarten students may have headphones and laptop covers listed on their supply lists. 

Back to School Isn't Just for Students

From college students, including older students, to adults who simply know that the back to school season is the best time to take advantage of deals on clothing, shoes, and computers, there are plenty of non-students who are looking for deals during this critical retail season, too. Your marketing doesn't have to focus on kids alone. Instead, look for ways to target the post-scholastic audience and show them what your store can offer. If you give them a good experience, they will come back in November.

Full Service Ecommerce Solutions - One Click Away

Onestop Internet is an end-to-end ecommerce solutions provider, combining a full-service digital marketing agency with technology, creative, photo and video studio, contact center and fulfillment to launch and grow brands. Contact us to help you prepare for upcoming holiday marketing strategies.

Topics: Back to school, holiday, promotions, SEM, SEO, shopping

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