Back-to-school season is a predictably busy time for apparel and education-related retail businesses. Back-to-school spending is expected to increase this year by as much as 7.5%, according to estimates, and has the potential to be a very profitable season for those businesses that are able to market effectively to parents and teachers. It is also a busy and stressful time for parents (and not always a fun time for kids). Some things to consider to make back-to-school shopping more pleasant for customers and more profitable for retailers:
Many schools issue their lists of required supplies before the school year officially begins. If the school is small, the list may come directly from the grade-level teachers. For larger schools and regions, the lists may be issued on a district-wide basis so that all kids across various areas are working with the same supplies and essentials. Whatever the situation in your region, you can better position yourself to help parents if you know exactly what they will be shopping for. Having copies of the supply list in the store helps guide shoppers who are unsure what to purchase; having the designated supplies stocked prominently and conveniently in your store makes a parent’s chore easier, faster, and more enjoyable. If you have an email marketing list, consider sending out a marketing email with a “checklist” of supply items pictured clearly.
If your state offers a tax holiday or tax-free weekend on back-to-school supplies, you have access to an automatic discount incentive that you can remind customers about. Timing your marketing campaign with the tax holiday can drive more customers to your site and store, and it can help you take a larger share of the back-to-school customers than your competitors. Not all items are likely to be tax-free, so advertising in advance which school supplies, clothing, and footwear qualify will help reduce customer frustration.
Not all back-to-school shoppers are necessarily parents. Teachers need supplies to stock their classrooms and prepare for the year. Making your site or store as educator-friendly as possible increases word of mouth referrals among teachers who advise each other (and parents) on the best places to go. Teacher discounts, as well as clearly marked sections of the store specifically designated for classroom supplies, make the shopping experience more convenient and less time-consuming for busy professionals.
While retailers are trying to drive up profits, parents are looking for good deals and discounts--even more so this year than in the past because of all the rising prices. Some tips for parents to make the most out of--and get the most from--the back-to-school season.
Back-to-school time is notoriously dreaded by kids. Including them in the back-to-school shopping experience in a fun way gives them a voice in choosing their supplies and clothing, and gives them something to look forward to. Instead of viewing back to school shopping as a chore, try to make it feel like an experience that kids want to be part of with personalized items that they look forward to wearing and using.
Not every item needs to be purchased at once. Students don’t use every school supply on Day 1, and some supplies don’t get used at all the entire year. While it may be economical to buy heavily used items in bulk to save money, overbuying non-essentials can cancel out any savings. Make separate lists of must-have supplies and the things you think can wait, like duplicate supplies and items needed for classes or school events that you know are scheduled for later on in the year. Many school supplies, clothing, and backpacks go on sale after Labor Day and periodically throughout the fall, so putting off purchasing some of the less essential items can save you money later.
Funds needed for lunches, school trips, activities, clubs, yearbooks, school apparel, sports teams, and fundraisers can really add up. A lot of school and local activities are not set up to accept credit cards, and when they are, they typically pass the convenience fees on to you. Checks are generally accepted by most schools for the wide variety of activities, trips, clothing, and meals that you may need to pay for. You may need a few checks or many, depending on the number of children and the number of activities your family includes. Checkeeper is the modern online alternative to the old-fashioned checkbook. You can print legally viable checks on demand from the convenience of your own home for those occasions when your school cannot accept credit. Fill out and print a check to your child’s school in just a few clicks for a low-cost, hassle-free start to the new school year.