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The start of a new school year has proven to be a very important time for online sellers. It is becoming the “start” of the shopping season – signaling the end of the summer slowdown and leading into every online seller’s favorite time: Black Friday and the Holidays! While retail establishments like Walmart and Target have been the usual go-to places for back-to-school shopping, it’s clear that many parents and college students are shifting their shopping behaviors.
Last year, Amazon experienced 20% growth over the entire back-to-school shopping season. There’s no doubt that online shopping is changing the way on-the-go parents prepare for a new school year.
This provides a world of opportunity for online sellers. Here are some tips to help you make the most of back-to-school selling.
Think of Your Audience
Moms do the majority of back to school shopping for children. Adolescents will be shopping for the latest fashion styles and trendy items. College students will be looking for clothing, electronics, room decor for their dorm/apartment, and school supplies. And don’t forget teachers! It’s also their first day of school and they will be looking to prepare their classrooms. A few extra considerations:
- All shoppers need supplies by a deadline. Those who didn’t plan ahead will pay a premium to get that textbook or other supplies with prime shipping.
- Think beyond simple school supplies. Parents also buy books, backpacks, and educational toys for their toddlers so they don’t feel left out when older siblings get new things.
- At this time of year, getting the right thing, getting it fast, and being cool (especially for kids) will trump price. People will pay a lot to get what they need and want.
By re-engaging shoppers before the holiday season, you’re much more likely to get them to purchase when November rolls around.
Focus on High Demand Products
There are four industries that benefit most from the back-to-school rush — clothing, electronics & technology, shoes, and school/office supplies. More specifically, hot products include:
- Backpacks, lunchboxes (especially character-themed items), and drink/snack containers
- Textbooks (even outdated textbooks will sell better this time of year), classic novels, educational books, tutorials, etc.
- School supplies, calendars and organizers, calculators
- Classroom-related products that teachers will be buying
- Educational toys
- Computers, printers, ink, toner
- Clothing (if you are approved to sell it)
Get Creative with Your Promotions
The back-to-school shopping season is a great opportunity to try out new promotions or mix and match promotions to satisfy consumer demand and increase sales. For example, try bundling popular items together, offering discounts on expensive items required by schools (e.g. graphing calculators), or if you’re a third-party vendor, providing free shipping.
And don’t forget to highlight your promotions! Parents and college students this year are aggressively seeking sales as a way to save money on back-to-school shopping. Take advantage of their proactive bargain hunting by creating promotional campaigns specifically targeting these customer groups. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are also convenient avenues for building awareness of your promotions and reaching your target audience.
It’s time to get selling!
Schools cross North America start at different times, generally mid-August to mid-September. Many colleges on the quarter system don’t start until the end of September. Happy selling!