Much to the dismay of young people everywhere, it's time again for the back-to-school season – and brand manufacturers couldn't be happier.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the back-to-school shopping bonanza is the second-largest annual retail event behind the winter holiday season. This year in particular, retail sales are projected to increase 4 percent over 2016's season, according to eMarketer, with an estimated total revenue of $857.18 billion. That's a staggering 17 percent of the year's total retail sales.
In this time of plenty, brand manufacturers need to do everything in their power to get by with flying colors. To that end, here are a few last-minute tips to help you kill it this month:
Throw your brick-and-mortar stores a BIG line
"Guide customers to your brand across a physical seller network."
Believe it or not, the back-to-school shopping season is one domain that e-commerce has not usurped. According to the LA Times, parents and students still prefer visiting physical stores in their quests for checking off the items on their back-to-school lists. Perhaps parents are driven by their nostalgia. Maybe they just see it as a chance to bond with their children. Whatever the reason, National Retail Federation projections say that e-commerce is third on the list of shopping destinations after department stores and discount stores – and brands need to make sure they're ready to capitalize on this trend.
One of the most effective ways to do that is to provide information to customers about where products are physically available. Obviously, many smaller purchases (notebooks, pencils, folders, etc.) will be bought on the fly. But this year, gizmos and gadgets will be the second-most lucrative category after only clothing. And despite the growing number of people who want to buy their electronics online, the back-to-school shopping seasons tells us, if nothing else, that people will buy products in the store during this time of year.
And so, brands (especially those in the CE arena) can benefit greatly by providing customers with product availability in their area. Long term, this is a smart play since it facilitates a proper buy-online, pick-in-store strategy. Short term, it can help guide customers to your brand across a physical seller network.
Not to mention, this is a lot easier than it sounds. A tool like Where to Buy from PriceSpider uses their propritary technology to find where your products are available online, but also in store. Brands can include this near real-time information on their websites, so consumers know exactly where to buy your products.
Cover all your bases
"Be thorough – give shoppers every reason to buy your products over the competition's. "
There is a lot you can do as a brand to boost sales during this season. You can create a special section on your site showcasing popular back-to-school products and highlighting deals. You can blast this information over social media channels to cultivate interest among target demographics. You can create original content on your website and blogs dedicated to back-to-school shopping in order to drive organic search engine optimization (SEO).
It's also important to remember to treat this like a group project. For instance, you're not in competition with your seller network. If they get an A, you probably will too. We already covered the "where to by" element in which brands direct customers to stores that carry their products. This will help drive traffic to your resellers' stores or websites, which is ultimately a win-win. Utilize those partnerships, and amplify your sellers' discounts when they pertain to your brand.
Lastly, yes, there will be a lot of impulse buying (as anyone who has ever gone shopping with a 10-year-old is well aware). Nevertheless, bear in mind that for bigger purchases, and especially consumer electronics, customers will do their research. According to Deloitte, more than half of shoppers will do that research online this back-to-school season. And one of the things that many of these customers want to know is what other buyers have said about your products. So don't make them dig for that information. Provide ratings and reviews from across your seller network on your product pages. Be thorough – give shoppers every reason to buy your products over the competition's.
Do that, and the rewards will long outlast the back-to-school season.