Back-to-school promotions help retailers to maximize their sales during the season. Customers are prepared to spend more and even buy on impulse to take advantage of great deals. To take advantage, it’s important for business owners to implement unique back-to-school marketing ideas like offering product bundles and giveaways to stand out from competitors.
Here are 26 back-to-school marketing tips for successful retailers.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas: Bookstores & School Supply Stores
Bookstores and school supply stores prepare to receive the most traffic during the back-to-school shopping rush. It comes as no surprise that a significant chunk of the $80.7 billion in projected back-to-school retail spending for 2019 will come from books and school supply sales. Parents, students, and even teachers prioritize school requirements in their shopping budget.
1. Start a Back-to-School Loyalty Program for Students
Although the bulk of shoppers during the back-to-school season include parents, students, and teachers, you should consider launching a loyalty program uniquely for students. Ensure your loyalty program is designed in a way that students receive more benefits than just discounts. This will make your program stand out and increase your chances of receiving customers through word-of-mouth.
Here are some perks you can offer as part of your student loyalty program:
- Give students a free gift as a thank you token for their first purchase―backpack, book or folder, for example. Invest in a unique product you can find on marketplaces like Alibaba.
- Offer a monthly themed giveaway―like art supplies for art month―in exchange for collected points. Post a calendar of your themes every year to get your members excited.
- Hold an exclusive annual sale for your loyalty program members.
- Offer tickets to educational events in exchange for points or referrals. This can also include tickets to family movies and special access to book signings in your store.
- Give student members an additional discount for birthdays or birthday months.
While having a loyalty program requires a small investment on your end―offering discounts and free merchandise―it pays off in the long run. Parents and teachers will appreciate the life skills students will learn from this opportunity, and you’ll be able to build a strong customer base that will keep coming back to your store.
2. Create a Themed School Supply Bundle
Bundled products are a staple for retail marketing strategies but, sometimes, the idea is so repetitive that customers overlook them even with a good deal. Creating a theme is a great way to spice up your product bundles.
Here are some themed school supplies bundle ideas you can try:
- Create a variety of color schemes
- Group similar pop culture designs
- Partner premium items with complementary products
- Make use of packaging that students can recycle and bring to school
There are so many ways to capitalize on themed school supply, bundle, and your ideas are limited by your creativity. Make sure you add variety and have something available for all school levels. Also, display them prominently and feature them in your store window, so they stand out from the rest of your products.
3. Hold Back-to-School Events With Other Local Businesses
Back-to-school season means summer is winding down. It’s a great time to hold an event when the weather’s still nice, and people are taking advantage of the last few days of the break before school starts. This is a great way to gain access to a new customer pool, increasing the reach of people who will discover your business and might be interested in your products or services.
During this time, look around your area and see if there’s an establishment you can partner with for a back-to-school event. You can host a free ice cream night at a partner restaurant or work with a music venue to hold a concert. You can also consider giving your products as freebies at high-traffic establishments such as restaurants, groceries, bookstores, and department stores.
4. Start a School Supply Drive
One way to get involved in your local community is to start a school supply drive. This is an opportunity to organically build your business brand, create recognition, and earn the trust of potential customers. Find a worthy school or organization in your area and start buzz over social media to help campaign for your activity.
There are several ways to start a school supply drive:
- Use your store as a hub where customers and employees can bring school supplies for children who don’t have access to what they need.
- Set up a donation box in your store where customers can read about your goal and provide a gift to help you reach it.
- Create a program in which your store donates a set of school supplies to children in need each time customer orders total a certain amount or more.
- Every customer who buys from your store will be able to donate automatically.
Make sure to involve your local community by creating a small event during which you give your accumulated donations to the recipient schools. Request feedback from the local community about your program or ask to feature some of your donors in the event to make it more memorable.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas For Ecommerce Shops
Back-to-school shopping is a great selling opportunity for ecommerce businesses. Everything from apparel and accessories to school supplies and dorm essentials are among the most searched products starting in mid-July until well into early September. As a small online retailer, you need to develop unique back-to-school retail marketing strategies to help you compete against giants like Amazon.
Here are several tips to help ecommerce shops boost online sales with back-to-school marketing.
1. Create a Quality Website With Dropshipping Functionality
Create a website that gives your customers the best buying experience and allows you to exercise complete control over your processes, including the checkout process. Choose a platform that supports dropshipping functions so you can sell products that can be delivered directly from the manufacturer and help minimize your overhead expenses.
You need an online shop that can compete against other online stores in terms of presentation and features. Use Shopify for a quick and easy way to create an online store with beautiful, responsive themes. Choose from the many Shopify dropshipping apps like Oberlo to help you curate and add products automatically to your store. Try Shopify for free.
2. Upgrade to a Mobile-friendly Website
Without a mobile-friendly store, back-to-school shoppers might not even know you exist. More people are choosing the convenience of shopping with their smartphones. Consumers find it easier to research products and price comparisons using phone apps, which also allow them to make a corresponding purchase.
Here are some tips for upgrading your website to a mobile-friendly online store:
- Use a responsive design. This means your website content will look the same regardless of the device, browser, or operating system used by the customer’s smartphone.
- Keep both content and navigation features simple.
- Provide an omnichannel buying experience. People who go about their busy day will complete a purchase if they can pick up where they left off in the buying process, regardless of whether they are using a different device.
- Add buttons that are easy to use with the thumb or index finger.
- Position your calls-to-action (CTAs) properly. Specifically, your add to cart button should be visible even on a small screen.
- Optimize your images, so they are quick to load and avoid losing the customer’s attention.
- Accept guest checkouts. This helps minimize the instances of abandoned carts because customers prefer to complete the checkout stage as quickly as possible.
The process of upgrading to a mobile-friendly website can be overwhelming, but it’s a crucial step to boosting online sales. Luckily, several top ecommerce platforms and WordPress shopping carts make it easy to transform your webpage into a mobile-friendly ecommerce site.
3. Offer Free Shipping for Back-to-School Items
Like it or not, shoppers nowadays expect free shipping and sellers who offer it see higher sales and fewer dropped carts. If you don’t already provide free shipping, try offering it at a certain purchase level, like $25. This encourages buyers to increase small orders to receive free shipping, and you can market it in your back-to-school promotions. As you prepare for the rush, be sure that you’re getting the best rates on every shipment by using top shipping rate comparison software.
4. Display Back-to-School Products on Special Web Pages & Menus
Cater to hurried and harried parents during the back-to-school rush. Create special back-to-school landing pages on your site to highlight back-to-school features, specials, and discounts. Also, try adding special back-to-school categories to your store menu to help buyers navigate to the types of products they want and shop quickly. Add prominent links to these special sections from your homepage and blog and include them in email and social media marketing.
5. Use In-cart Coupons & Dropped Cart Remarketing
Don’t let shoppers walk away from their online cart without a fight. Implement in-cart coupon pop-ups to encourage shoppers to complete their sale without leaving. If they do, use dropped cart pop-ups that offer even more savings or another incentive, like a gift, to entice wavering buyers to complete their purchase.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas: Clothing, Shoes & Accessory Shops
Most shopping decisions that are made during the back-to-school season depend on how good deals are. The most expensive items on the list are usually clothes, shoes, and accessories. While parents and young adults are on the lookout for deals that give them the most for their budget, offering something unique will motivate them to buy products at a premium price.
1. Improve Your Loyalty Program Using a POS
Retail businesses are putting a focus on improving their loyalty program continuously to match customer expectations. This will allow businesses to provide better benefits that will translate to more members and an increase in sales. To do this, retail business owners should look for a more customized loyalty program that customers want.
Vend is a retail point-of-sale (POS) system that includes customer management and loyalty software features, allowing retailers to build their own custom program. Design a loyalty program that’s simple to manage and makes joining easy for your customers. Visit Vend today.
2. Sell Apparel That Is In Demand
Your available products must be ones that will interest potential customers. This means you need to find out which items are in demand and will most likely be bought. You can’t expect that the back-to-school products you had on display last year will be as popular again this year automatically.
Some tips to consider when evaluating your products are:
- Know local school requirements: Get accurate school supply, athletic gear, and uniform lists from your area school districts, and make your stock purchases accordingly. Nothing is more frustrating for parents or store owners than having to make returns because something didn’t match a school requirement. So, stick to the list to ensure your products are sold.
- Stock up on bestselling essentials: Don’t be afraid to stock up on basics and other fast-moving essentials when purchasing back-to-school stock. However, be wary of splurging on specialty or seasonal goods. Once the school rush is over, it can be hard to move things like locker decor and unicorn-emblazoned binders. Keep the fancy add-ons to a minimum and, if you notice them dragging during the rush, display them by your checkout with deep back-to-school discounts to move them out fast.
Many factors influence a customer’s buying decision, and you need to stay updated. This will help make sure that you have the right products on display and avoid losing customers to your competitors.
3. Create Smart Displays Using Strategic Product Layouts
Turn your power walls and other prime in-store real estate into back-to-school blowout displays that lure your customers in and entice them to buy. Maximize these key selling spots using tried-and-true retail store layout methods to keep your space organized and easy to navigate. Use must-buy essentials like uniforms and school apparel to draw buyers in, allow ample space for movement on busy days, and keep your impulse-buy areas well stocked with inexpensive add-ons.
4. Provide Special Discounts for Teachers
When it comes to back-to-school season, teachers need to prepare themselves as much as students so retailers should not forget to include teachers in their target market. Teachers will also need to update their wardrobe with sensible and functional articles to help perform their duties at school.
However, unlike students, they might have different priorities and budgeting concerns that will affect their buying decisions. This opens an opportunity for retailers to set themselves apart by giving special attention to teachers when offering discounts.
Here are some discount ideas you can try:
- Start a loyalty program that allows teachers to earn points for each dollar they spend; they can use them to save money on their next purchase
- Create a one-day exclusive sale for teachers during back-to-school season
- Offer special teacher discounts for customer referrals
Teachers appreciate shops that recognize their roles as educators. By providing them with exclusive discounts, you build a more extensive customer base and improve your company’s brand.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas For Salons and Barbershops
Salons and barbershops also see a moderate increase in business activity during back-to-school season. Students and teachers are getting ready to look their best on the first day of school while parents are treating themselves to a relaxing day of pampering once they get more time in their hands. With nearly 80% of households planning to spend money on personal care during the season, business owners must do their best to stand out from the competition.
1. Offer Special Salon Loyalty Cards for Students
Motivate your young customers to keep coming back to your salon or barbershop by offering a loyalty program. Taking care of one’s hair can be expensive, so use this chance to show new customers that they can save a great deal by being loyal customers. You can hand out punch cards they can use towards a free hair grooming service in the future.
Look for innovative and creative loyalty card designs to make sure it stands out in your customer’s wallet. You can even opt for providers that will help you create virtual loyalty cards for your business.
2. Create Special Privileges for Parents & Teachers
Parents and teachers all want some time for themselves before or once the back-to-school rush is over. This makes for a perfect opportunity to offer special privileges that they will appreciate. Consider offering back-to-school hair supply products as an incentive for purchasing services of a minimum certain dollar value. You can even provide unique services like in-store childcare, makeover consultation, and other services that will make shopping easier for your customers.
3. Add an Online Appointment Scheduling System
With the back-to-school rush, many people don’t have enough time to plan a visit to the salon or barbershop. Sometimes, they just lack the patience to call for an appointment. This is where an online appointment scheduling feature on your website can come in handy. A quick online search will show you options for free-to-use appointment scheduling software that you can add to your website.
Add an appointment calendar on your website that shows available times. Once you’ve shared a link to your website, all that your clients will need to do is visit and fill out a form to lock in their appointment schedule.
4. Brand Yourself as a Local Styling & Grooming Expert
Back-to-school season is a great time to remind your network that you’re a local expert. Collaborate with schools and other businesses to create an event that will show your expertise. Use this event to educate parents and teachers alike on how to handle issues like quick hair grooming for students on a budget. Your partners can then endorse their products during the event.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas For Supermarkets & Convenience Stores
Food is an important factor for back-to-school season. Parents are always looking for ways to motivate their kids to eat healthily while sticking on a reasonable budget. Unfortunately, this task is not easy, especially for busy adults with little time to arrange for homemade school snacks. This is where supermarkets and convenience stores should step in and meet customer demand.
1. Create Snack Bundles
It’s always a challenge for busy parents to provide the best snacks for their kids, so work on creating a marketing strategy to sell pre-bundled snacks that students can carry easily. The idea is to prepare snack packs so that parents don’t have to spend so much time browsing through aisles and can save valuable time.
Some snack ideas to consider are:
- Cereal and milk snack packs for toddlers
- Fruit cups with drinks that are easier to pack and bring to school
- Single-serving salads
- Sandwich and chips combo
Be creative and add more value to your bundles. Include small packets of wet tissue, hand sanitizers, or clips that can seal packages of unfinished snacks.
2. Start a Cooking Demo
Another creative idea is to host a quick-cooking demo that focuses on healthy snacks and lunch ideas for students. You only need a small booth within the supermarket to do this, or if you have some space outside, you can add chairs for your audience to sit in during your show. End the demo by distributing samples of your finished food products for tasting. This is a great way to collaborate with brands and feature their products.
3. Display Food Products Near the Checkout Line
In supermarkets, busy parents and impatient youngsters who are in line to pay for their purchases could abandon their items if they feel that they are waiting too long. Keep customers occupied by giving them access to product displays along the cashier line, and the wait in line seems shorter. Make your displays interactive and strategically place the CTAs so that you can motivate customers to add last-minute items to their cart.
Back-to-school Marketing Ideas For Restaurants
Because back-to-school is the second busiest shopping season of the year, right behind the winter holidays, expect to find an influx of diners in restaurants. This is especially true if your eatery is located near shopping malls where back-to-school shoppers visit. Keep in mind that, as you plan your marketing strategy, other restaurants are doing the same, and you need to come up with more creative ideas to stand out.
1. Offer Food & Beverage Promos to Teachers & Students
Students usually have a limited budget, so any discounts tend to carry more weight in their eating decisions. Leave a sign on your window to say that there are special discounts to students before and after school hours as long as they can present their valid school IDs.
You can also do the same for teachers or even give them their first cup of coffee for free. While these offers are small and simple, they make a big difference to students and teachers who are trying to make the most out of their daily limited allowances.
2. Offer Teacher & Student Discounts on Meal Deliveries
If your restaurant offers a delivery service, consider providing special discounts for students and teachers around your area. You can hand out flyers near the schools or even through short message service (SMS) marketing―sending promotions via text message. You should also consider creating an app that a young audience can easily download on their phones for free. Then, you can include marketing announcements and offer special event discounts directly to your subscribers.
3. Offer a Prepaid Meals Program
If you have a college near you, consider starting a prepaid meals program that you can market to parents. Students who have your store’s prepaid card can present it in exchange for a free meal, making it a terrific solution for parents who need assurance that their kids are eating well. Sell punch cards with different values that correspond to the number of meals that parents want to prepay for their kids. To get leads, secure a mailing list from the nearby colleges or contact the school’s promotions department.
If you need a system that simplifies customer payment processing and makes it easy to give special discounts, consider Lightspeed POS. It allows you to apply dollar discounts to individual line items and create coupon items to subtract from an entire sales total. You can also design and print physical copies of the coupons with scannable barcodes that make processing easy for cashiers. Sign up to start using Lightspeed today.
Electronic & Gadget Stores
Electronics and gadgets are now almost a necessity, not only for communication but for working and studying as well. This is why electronic and gadget stores also see a rise in sales during back-to-school season. While the cost of these gadgets can sometimes be overwhelming, business owners should look at this challenge as an opportunity to offer great deals to boost their sales.
1. Offer Financing, Repairs & Upgrades for Electronics
During the back-to-school season, parents may want to spend money on new technology. However, sending a kid to school is expensive enough without buying school equipment, so the latest electronics might not be first on their list of priorities. It’s a great time to offer customer financing to potential customers who aren’t able to buy your products outright. Aside from increasing the number of visitors to your store, it can also increase the average purchase amount per customer.
Upgrades and repairs go hand-in-hand. If you offer upgrades, you end up with an older smartphone, laptop, or PC model that you can either refurbish or break apart for parts. This will allow you to also offer repair services as an additional income stream for your business.
2. Revamp Online Marketing Initiatives for Electronic Inventory
About one-third of back-to-school shopping is done virtually, which makes online marketing important in attracting business leads and generating revenue. For electronics and gadget retailers, this means making sure that product listings are up-to-date and descriptions are accurate. It also requires establishing a customer service strategy to serve your online customers better.
Here are some ideas on how electronic retailers can boost their online marketing:
- Market promos through eye-catching visuals and photos on your social media pages, such as Facebook and Instagram.
- Update your website homepage to display any visuals about your back-to-school promos.
- Choose a good customer relationship management (CRM) software in place to capture business leads. The back-to-school season often drives heavier than usual traffic to your website, and a CRM helps keeps things organized. Use targeted lead magnet tools such as pop-ups, newsletter sign-ups, and contact forms on your website.
The end-of-summer season is an ideal time to reevaluate your online presence and spruce up your website before the busy season starts again. With so many students relying more on their gadgets to aid in their education, it won’t be difficult for business owners to find a way to market their products effectively to their target audience.
3. Capitalize on Back-to-School Sales Tax Holidays
Many states have sales tax holidays during the back-to-school shopping season. Maximize your sales on these busy shopping days by making it easy for shoppers to find tax-free goods. Do this by tagging eligible items or creating a sales tax holiday category to list tax-free products you sell. If you collect taxes in participating states, be sure to understand your state’s tax collection rules and adjust the tax collection function in your cart for each state accordingly.
The back-to-school season is a great time to market your business, increase revenue, and build loyalty among both customers and employees. You just need to plan ahead and think outside of the box to fully capitalize on the season. Try out these back-to-school marketing tips to help increase your sales and boost your bottom line.
Want to share your own back-to-school marketing ideas? Let us know in the comments.