Most areas of the country are just completing the school year, but consumers are already starting to think about back-to-school shopping for this coming season.
According to a recent survey by Quantum Metric, 76% of consumers are beginning back-to-school shopping earlier due to concerns about ongoing supply chain issues and rising prices, with 41% having either already started or planning to start before this school year ends.
That means ecommerce brands must be ready now to efficiently and affordably handle the post-purchase experience for back-to-school shoppers.
The ABCs of omnichannel
How are this season’s back-to-school consumers planning to shop? Data shows they increasingly prefer the convenience of online purchases instead of store-to-store comparison shopping. The most popular destinations for nearly half of K-12 shoppers are online—even those who visit actual stores are beginning more purchases digitally. Last year, 34% of consumers planned to use buy-online-pickup-in-store or curbside pickup more frequently compared with 26% in 2020.
Using connected, centralized fulfillment software integrated with every sales channel and shopping cart helps brands offer the same omnichannel ecommerce experience no matter where customers make their purchase. Centralizing all order sources in a single dashboard allows you to monitor inventory, orders, and fulfillment activity, in real-time.
Adding up supplies for hybrid learning
COVID-related protocols are ongoing, which means there’s a high likelihood parents will need to be stocked with extra supplies in the event their child has to do school remotely. This potential scenario mixed with rising costs is why almost half of consumers will spend more money on school supplies than on a vacation this year.
Brands can manage a potential influx of extra orders with a connected fulfillment network that can pinpoint which locations they should prioritize and the types of inventory to stock. Having tools to manage distributed operations from one point of integration can help cut down on costs, especially shipping.
Educating consumers on related items
Back-to-school shopping in our current landscape has opened the door for other brands to promote related items. For instance, there are opportunities for technology brands to highlight extra computer mice, chargers and headphones and for home goods brands to sell desk chairs, chair cushions and pillows to cater to learners that could go remote at any time.
Other retailers can piggyback off the back-to-school theme by figuring out what the fall season means for customers. For example, it’s prime time for gyms to offer signup discounts now that parents get more time back to themselves or hair salons to promote deals on haircuts.
Year-round shopping as easy as 123
Consumers don’t just shop for back-to-school items in the summer. Tax-free weekends and sales days at major retailers mean ecommerce brands need to a plan to satisfy demand and meet expectations across a number of key back-to-school selling moments such as:
To cut costs, 73% of consumers will shop for school supplies on tax-free weekends. Eighteen states participate in these weekends, and the majority occur in late spring and summer (see the full list of dates here). A flexible network means fulfillment locations can be added, removed or changed as demand increases in certain locations, without interruption to existing operations.
Retailer sales days
More than a third of consumers say they took advantage of recent sales events such as Walmart’s Deals for Days to shop for school items. Having a fulfillment partner with a breadth and depth of integrations allows you to bring your shopping carts, marketplaces or retail stores into the mix to capitalize on back-to-school sales.
Brands need at least three fulfillment centers to offer two-day delivery nationwide. To offer one-day delivery, they’ll need at least 10 locations. For consumers who shop late, having distributed fulfillment centers will help you understand which locations to prioritize for these fast shipping timelines.
Don’t wait for the late bell to prepare for back-to-school promotions. Getting an early start by making sure you are equipped to handle any and all fulfillment operation demands will earn you extra credit with your customers.