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Preparing Your Online Store for Back to School Season

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By Emily Nelson - August 18, 2022- in Go-Getter Blog

School is ramping up, and retailers are ready to enjoy the sales surge. According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending will reach a record high of $37 billion. If you want to get in on the profits, make sure your online store is ready to go. From marketing to inventory, here’s how to plan and make your ecommerce store stand out from the competition. 

Make it Visually Appealing

It makes sense that people prefer beautiful-looking product and website designs, and it can make an impressive impact on your ecommerce business. Research shows that 38% of visitors will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, and 48% of people cite website design as the driving factor in determining a business’s credibility. 

Working with a professional web designer is a worthwhile investment, but fortunately, you can take a DIY approach. There are plenty of professional-looking templates on platforms like Shopify, Wix, WordPress, and beyond. To stand out from the competition during the back-to-school season rush, it’s essential to help your ecommerce store stand out from the competition. Here are a few ways to dress up your shop and earn more customers:

  • Banners
  • Landing pages
  • Product pages
  • Create high-quality images, photos, and graphics
  • Curate unique school supplies, clothes, and accessories
  • Focus on unbelievable, limited-time prices

Tap Into Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is also profitable with potentially high ROI. Data shows that 55% of shoppers are more likely to buy the product in the future, 44% will share the story, and 15% will immediately purchase the product.

Unlike traditional advertising and marketing, brand storytelling is about inspiring an emotional reaction. Whether you cater to college students, parents, or tweens, there’s something about school that sparks a visceral reaction. You can practically smell the freshly sharpened pencils and feel the excitement build over new clothes and notebooks. 

Tap into that feeling by focusing on emotions’ sensory approach to storytelling. Focus on describing how your products feel to how they make the consumer feel. Show off your products by video or with stunning product photos and describe the texture and color. The more your audience feels like they’re interacting with your product, the more likely they are to buy.

Warm-Up Your Audience

Even though school rolls around the same time every year, most shoppers are still taken by surprise. “School’s starting back already??” From erasers to new socks, kids, college students, and parents need something of everything to prepare. 

Give your audience a heads-up with a few teasers. Start by promoting your almost out-of-season wear while heading into Fall. Remind customers that school is just around the corner and drop a VIP sale into their inboxes or smartphones to give them a taste of what to expect. When the school shopping rush comes around, create a sense of urgency with apps that let shoppers know how much inventory they have left of a particular item.

Personalize Your Back-to-School Marketing

Personalized marketing can extend to everything from customized products to email messages. Segment your audience by demographic and shopping habits, for example, parents or college students, and craft marketing messages accordingly. You can also offer customized product options to drive more sales. For example, offer to put the name of the school or student on a cup or T-Shirt.

CustomCat fuels ecommerce stores by offering no minimums on high-quality products. You can run your entire ecommerce store on POD technology and never carry inventory. You make money when an item sells, and we do the rest from production to fulfillment. 

Get started with CustomCat here.

Focus on Convenience

The start of the school year is an exhausting process, even when it’s edged in excitement and anticipation. Give your customers a stress-free experience with the most convenient options possible. Make sure checkout is a breeze, offer multiple payment options, provide free shipping and increase your customer chat functionality. The more your customers feel like they can take care of everything they need in one place, the more they’ll buy.

Bundle Products 

Bundling products is another way to offer ultimate convenience and increase your revenue. If you sell unique and personalized school supplies, bundle together a pack for everything a student would need, from folders to notebooks. You can also provide a bundle of a week worth of school clothes or a lookbook of everything someone needs for special school occasions. 

What if you can’t curate a selection of necessary school supplies? When you bundle products, you can also group for a discount. Instead of selling just one green shirt, sell five at a discount. You can focus your marketing around the idea that customers will save money and quickly build out a monthly wardrobe.

Remember the Parents

If your ecommerce store doesn’t cater to students or school at all, there’s still room to stand out. Take a look at your demographics and do some sleuthing to figure out if you have parents, or even grandparents, in the mix. You can cater your back-to-school shopping season around parents, including spirit wear and customized drinkware.

If you just don’t have a demographic that can serve a back-to-school theme, consider donating to a parent-approved cause. You can also ask your audience directly which pro-education charity they want you to donate part of your profits to for the month.

Consider Alternate School Schedules

Remember, not everyone starts back to school at the same time. Some schools start in early August, others after Labor Day, and some go year-round with periodic breaks throughout the year. Take a look to see where the majority of your sales come from. If they’re all clustered in the south, it’s worth seeing which month school students return. Or, if you cater to college students, remember to drum up their last drops of summer before heading off to campus. 

The point of considering alternate school schedules isn’t just what products and sales to launch; it’s also about personalizing your messaging. If you want to get in on the sale surge, all of your marketing correspondence should focus on the seasonality of school starting.

Follow-up with School Break Sales

While most ecommerce stores close up their school marketing strategy in mid-September, you can stand out by taking advantage of school break sales. Many public schools now have shorter summers than a few decades ago and enjoy Fall breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas, a February break, spring break, and odd holidays peppered in throughout the year. 

When families are taking mini-vacations or enjoying time off, you can sing their attention with unexpected school sales. Make sure to post on your marketing language around school breaks and their much-deserved chance to save while online shopping.


How do you prepare your online store for the school season? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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