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5 Things Retailers Can Do To Prepare For Back-To-School Season


by Adam Bender | August 30, 2022

Whether you run an online, physical, or hybrid business, back-to-school season is an important time of year. Sales for the 2022 period are expected to rise by 7.5% compared to 2021, or 18.3% compared to 2019. And given the near total return to in-person classes, clothing and shoes sales are expected to climb significantly. Here are some things you can do to prepare for the coming months and take advantage of market conditions.

1. Make shopping convenient

Now more than ever, consumers value convenience. According to Smart Insights, 97% of consumers have abandoned purchases due to inconvenience, and the NRF reports that nine in 10 consumers are more likely to choose a retailer if they’re more convenient than the competition.

And this is not just an e-commerce phenomenon; making things easy to find and making shopping smooth and seamless is essential for capturing as many sales as possible, regardless of sales channel. Free time is in short supply for many people these days, so making things as easy for them as you can is bound to boost sales.

2. Create bundles and start discount campaigns

With inflation surging in recent months, consumers are valuing discounts and deals more than they may have in the past. Many have become more budget-conscious, and as a result more likely to value low prices and limited-time discounts. In fact, the NRF found that many consumers were holding off on purchases in July just to wait for the best deals.

This means that to bring in good revenue over the next few months, retailers must ensure their pricing is competitive and their discount campaigns are well communicated and advertised. Especially in the clothing segment, consumers are going to focus on low pricing above most other factors. Find ways to create discounts for popular sales items, and perhaps use it as an opportunity to sell off goods that have been lagging in sales by bundling them with high-demand items.

3. Keep products available

Ever since the start of the pandemic in 2019, consumers have had to deal with unexpected shortages in nearly every segment of the retail market. And while shortages are not nearly as widespread as they were at the height of the pandemic, they are still something that needs consideration. Finding a product is out of stock is a silent sales killer; it’s entirely possible that customers will walk out without buying anything at all!

While there’s not much retailers can do to deal with supply chain problems upstream, there are ways to mitigate the effects of potential shortages or low inventory. For example, it is often challenging to ensure perfect stock levels at a given physical location. This can be mitigated against by allowing in-store consumers to buy products online using an endless aisle, or through hybrid retail strategies like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and BOPAC (buy online pickup at curbside).

Many consumers want to shop in-store, but have been consistently met with frustration when products are out of stock and unable to be purchased. When this happens, it’s likely the sale will be lost to an e-tailer or a marketplace like Amazon. Keeping things in-stock, or at the very least available for immediate purchase, is vital to capturing sales before they walk out the door.

4. Create enticing ads and polish merchandising

While having lots of inventory is great, it’s not going to go anywhere if you don’t get people in the door first, and that’s what advertising is for. Ad campaigns are an evergreen tool for boosting sales and back-to-school season is no different.

Focusing on the return of in-person school might be a good strategy this year, as distance learning has largely faded and it’s been a few years since kids have had a normal school year. This is especially true for clothing retailers, who can jump on the fact that kids have probably grown two sizes in the interim.

But even if the customers are in the door, the work isn’t done yet. Pop up displays, overhead signage, aisle fins and neatly crafted product displays will go a long way towards ensuring a sale. Some retailers may even find success in reorganizing a portion of their store into a back-to-school hub area.

5. Renew focus on social media

It’s not a surprise to anyone that people spend a ton of time on social media platforms. But you may be surprised just how much time that is. On average, Internet users spend 147 minutes a day on social media, or a little over two hours. That’s two hours where more than 65% of the population can be exposed to your ads, and with smooth native advertising systems on platforms like TikTok and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to reach your target market.

But it doesn’t have to stop at just traditional ads. Influencer marketing is a highly successful strategy, and back-to-school provides a perfect opportunity for fun sponsorship campaigns. It might even be a good idea to turn your brand’s social media accounts into relatable cultural icons, if it suits your target market.

No matter what specific strategy you choose, taking advantage of social media is bound to help increase sales and get more eyes on your business.

Back-to-school season comes with challenges, but it also comes with plenty of benefits. By taking initiative and readying up for these busy months, retailers can guarantee they come out ahead of the pack.

The strategies listed above are only a small fraction of what retailers can do to take advantage of the market, but they paint a picture of the overall goal: be proactive, be flexible, and use as many sales channels as you can.

And Jesta suits that goal perfectly. With the Vision Suite, Jesta can level up every aspect of your business, from enabling omnichannel retail to helping build powerful merchandising assortments. Whether it’s back-to-school or the Christmas rush, having Jesta’s tools in your back pocket makes your business faster, smarter, and more adaptable to market conditions.

Contact us to learn more.


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