It’s that time again…back-to-school shopping season has begun. For retailers, this means it’s time to start promoting your back-to-school inventory and rolling out your seasonal promotions if you haven’t done so yet. With back-to-school spending expected to reach a high of 27.6 billion this year, you’ll want to get a head start on your marketing initiatives to make sure that your company is positioned to benefit from this increase in sales. Of course, like everything else in retail, the way customers shop for back-to-school merchandise has evolved significantly over the years…which means your strategies need to, as well.

To ensure your company is well-positioned to attract back-to-school shoppers, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you start to prepare your store this busy time of year. The following three quick tips can help your store have a successful – and profitable – back-to-school season this 2018.

1. Start Back-to-School Promotions Early

Many retailers are unaware of the importance of getting an early start on back-to-school promotions. Consider this: 62 percent of shoppers begin back-to-school shopping before August and these early shoppers spend significantly more – an average of $100 more per customer –  than those who start their shopping later in the season. In other words, if you aren’t in the process of rolling out back-to-school promotions and events in your retail store, you’re missing out on some of the most profitable shoppers the season has to offer.

Did you know that 80 percent of shoppers would purchase with a new brand if that brand offered them a deal or discount? Simply rolling out your back-to-school inventory and hoping that your customers take the bait isn’t enough to make your goals during the back-to-school season. Instead, focus on creating in-store events to attract parents, as well as timing your promotions during shopping days which historically bring in the most traffic to increase conversions during this pivotal shopping season.

2. Prepare for Brick and Mortar Traffic

There’s a big misconception in the retail industry where most families do their back-to-school shopping. News flash…it’s not online. Back-to-school shoppers will spend more than double in-store than online this year, so it is important to create an in-store experience that helps to attract and convert the customers who are doing the shopping for their families during the months of July through September. Sourcing the right merchandise is the first part of the equation when it comes to increasing conversions during back-to-school season. Attending high-margin trade shows such as ASD Market Week can give you a pricing advantage over the competition.

Additionally, take the extra time to create in-store and street signage to direct shoppers to the back-to-school inventory in your store, keeping in mind that many back-to-school shoppers have children in tow and might have less patience than usual when it comes to finding products. By building bright, attractive displays with recognizable back-to-school symbols – such as pencils, apples, and notebooks – you can ensure your customers can easily locate the products they need in your store.

3. Advertise on Multiple Platforms
To maximize the effectiveness of your back-to-school marketing initiatives, you need to advertise your events, inventory, and promotions across multiple channels. RetailMeNot offers a great promotional checklist of platforms to use to best advertise your back-to-school inventory, including:

  • -Targeted and themed emails

  • -Targeted exclusive pushes

  • -Facebook Live event(s)

  • -Seasonal blog posts

  • -Broadcast and satellite media tours

  • -Digital and video radio ads
Keep in mind when you are choosing platforms to market your store during back-to-school season that each demographic has a different preference when it comes to marketing channels, so you want to choose a combination that historically brings your target (parent) demographic into your physical stores.

The average shopper will spend $510 on their children this season. Are you ready to position yourself to capture some of these dollars? With the back-to-school season already started, now is the time to begin rolling out your seasonal promotions and targeted ad campaigns to bring customers into your physical store during this important shopping season.

Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this July 29-August 1, 2018 in Las Vegas.

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle,