School’s Out for Summer: Why Retailers are Making the Most of Back-to-School Shopping

14 August, 2018

Uncategorized By Laura Lane

The 6 week holiday is now in full swing. With temperatures soaring across the UK, we’re set for the hottest summer on record. For most kids, September might be feeling a long way away, but we all know the weeks tick away quickly. And it’s never too soon for families to start planning their back-to-school shopping list.

Last year as a nation we spent a whopping £1.48 billion kitting out the 8.5 million children across the UK, that equates to £174.31 per child. The most popular product categories for families with school age children included:

  • Uniforms (clothing) £33
  • Shoes £27
  • Sports equipment and kits £25
  • Jackets and coats £23
  • Sports shoes £20
  • Technology £8

Back-to-school now represents a crucial peak in the retail calendar with parents on the lookout for quality products that won’t break the bank.

Here at ChannelAdvisor, our e-commerce experts have been tracking back-to-school promotions and performance for years. And they’ve noticed several common characteristics of the most successful campaigns, such as the following ones discussed during our recent webinar.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Many retailers launch their back-to-school deals before the kids have even broken up, last year Aldi’s £5 uniform offer had sold out within days of the launch in early July. A recent study in the US found that families who started their shopping early actually spent on average 16% more.

The key is to promote your offers well before any last minute rushes on 1st September. The sooner you have your plans in place, the more you stand to profit.

Fast, Free and Easy

Over a quarter of UK shoppers expect free delivery on every single order. When attracting early starter shoppers, free delivery is a powerful incentive and could be just the trick to differentiate you from competitors.

As we move through August, taking advantage of the bank holiday weekend to attract those last minute shoppers with fast delivery could be a smart move. Use a countdown timer to increase urgency or promote your next day/same day delivery offering on the homepage.

Getting deliveries on doorsteps quickly and affordably will remain critical throughout the back-to-school sales season.

Don’t forget about the Students!

It’s not just back-to-school you have to consider. Students heading back to university or beginning freshers week are likely to have money to burn. From new clothes, to homeware, technology and beauty; back-to-uni buying reaches across many product categories. And what’s more, students are more likely to shop right the way through into October.

Taking the time to target this segment with specialty product bundles (such as homeware packages containing all the essentials), student discount and advertising can result in big rewards.

Consider your Value-add

Families shopping back-to-school stock want to make sure they are buying items that will last. Many retailers are using this opportunity to build trust and confidence with shoppers by offering helpful services. Take Asda who include a section on measuring tips, breaking down items of clothing by age, height, chest, waist and hips to ensure you pick the right clothes. Or Marks and Spencer who offer parents a name tape service , with prices starting at £3 for shoes and £5 for clothes.

Think about how you can offer more to your customers by layering in additional services, this is guaranteed to pay dividends in the long run.

These are just a selection of ideas to energise your back-to-school strategy, if you would like to discuss how we can help you make the most out of this mini peak, please get in touch. And don’t forget to check out our webinar The Essential E-Commerce Seller’s Guide to Back-to-School Selling now available on demand.

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