14 Back-to-school retail ideas to boost revenue

back to school retail ideas

As summer comes to a close, parents are prepping to send their kids back to school. This event marks one of the largest shopping booms of the year, with parents to be expected to spend $37 billion. In 2021, back-to-school shopping rose by 16% as kids went back to class, and that number is expected to rise even more this year. You can use some of the most creative back-to-school campaign ideas from big retailers, to highlight your fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and capture these shoppers.

Back-to-school spending and COVID-19

Following worldwide vaccine rollouts in the spring and summer of 2021, many schools opted to shift back to in-person learning, impacting shopping trends. Last summer, only 18% of shoppers had finished their shopping by the end of July. They weren’t sure what to buy, and they were waiting for the best deals. 

The shift back to in-person learning in 2021, also inspired parents to spend more on electronics, clothing, and shoes. In 2021, 43% of shoppers shopped online. However, a large number of parents are expected to go back to physical stores this year, since they are operating under normal circumstances, and might be more convenient for them. 

Back-to-school marketing ideas for all businesses

Even if you don’t sell clothes, electronics, or school supplies, you can attract your share of back-to-school shopping. Highlight FMCGs that may sell out before school starts. FMCG marketing strategies can help you stand out from the back-to-school competition. 

If you’re drawing a blank when it comes to back-to-school retail ideas, figure out how students could use your products to enhance school life. You may have items that would be perfect for a dorm, or products that increase organization. If you own a toy store, highlight how kids can use the toys to unwind after a hard week in the classroom. Use these time-tested back-to-school marketing ideas to get started.

Back-to-school idea #1: Provide special discounts for students all year round

Source: bloggeek.com.au

Why this works: Student discounts appeal to budget-conscious parents and college students. You can build brand loyalty by recognizing that students and their parents need to stretch their money. 

Channel: In-store and online

Key Benefit: Student discounts potentially increase your customers’ lifetime value. This is one of the best back-to-school retail ideas for building a relationship with your customers. Offering discounts to college-age students can help you convert them into loyal customers, which pays off as they grow older.

Your student customers also recognize your commitment to helping them out with their FMCG related and/or other needs. Soaring college costs can make their life more complex when students are starting out.

Expected reach: Nearly 20 million students in the United States and 200 million worldwide — most look for discounts before shopping.

Back-to-school idea #2: Give out school-related freebies through the first month of school

Source: pennysaviour.com

Why this works: Parents spend a lot of money on FMCGs like school supplies, which can tap them out financially. Freebies help you build brand awareness with budget-conscious parents and college students. 

Channel: In-store and online

Key benefits: This is one of the most popular ideas for retailers because it helps you build brand loyalty. FMCG’s marketing strategies include building awareness with user-generated content (UGC). Ask local bloggers to cover you as part of a “back-to-school discounts” post to expand your marketing reach and build stronger brand awareness. 

Expected reach: Nearly 20 million students in the United States and 200 million worldwide — for brick-and-mortar retailers, this would vary based on how many students live in their service area.

Back-to-school marketing ideas for brick-and-mortar stores

While online shopping has risen as a result of the pandemic, many people have returned to in-person shopping. Only 13% of all purchases in the first quarter of 2021 were made online. Apply FMCG marketing strategies like social media interaction to boost items that will sell out. These back-to-school retail ideas will help you capture the people that are visiting your physical store.

Back-to-school idea #3: Create school-themed displays

Why this works: Displays add to the in-store shopping experience, and they help you guide customers’ buying decisions. By putting displays near the cash register, you can capture the 93% of customers who make at least one unplanned purchase. FMCG marketing strategies are often built around impulse buys. 

Channel: In-store

Key benefits: FMCG marketing best practices include POP displays because they appeal to last-minute needs. They’re affordable and one of the traditionally effective back-to-school marketing tactics. Back-to-school store display ideas include towers of school supplies, window displays featuring fashion in a school setting, and displays around school activities. 

Expected reach: Potential 23% increase in sales — this would be visible to all in-store customers.

Back-to-school idea #4: Build an in-store back-to-school installation to create a memorable customer experience

Source: pinterest.com

Why this works: Back-to-school marketing is about more than just selling products, and in-store experiences are bringing shoppers back to in-store shopping. About 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from your store if you offer them a personalized shopping experience. 

Channel: In-store

Key benefits: By offering customers a unique and personal shopping experience, you are driving them to remember your brand strongly. If it’s enjoyable, you might sell even more products. Research back-to-school backdrop ideas to enhance your in-store shopping ambiance. 

Expected reach: At least half of all customers in your area are looking for a unique shopping experience. 

Back-to-school idea #5: Hold a special back-to-school event

Source: pinterest.com

Why this works: Events offer you a chance to meet and connect with your customers in real-time. They also help members of the community connect, which can boost loyalty in your area. FMCG marketing strategies include influencer marketing. If possible, invite influencers to your event. 

Channel: In-store and online

Key benefits: Special events give you the chance to showcase your merchandise and get feedback. They’re perfect vehicles for UGCs on social media when event attendees share photos and videos. Look for back-to-school raffle ideas and other events you can use to attract customers. 

Expected reach: About 23% of customers who attend the event will buy. 

Back-to-school marketing ideas for eCommerce retailers

If you don’t have an in-person store, you can still use back-to-school marketing to improve traffic to your online store and boost sales. The basics of FMCG marketing involve building brand awareness in a highly competitive field and apply to back to school retailers.

Back-to-school idea #6: Structure a back-to-school dedicated landing page

Source: freepik.com

Why this works: Landing pages let you focus on a specific call to action like back-to-school shopping. Page visitors aren’t distracted by other parts of your website and they can concentrate on their needs on school supplies. Use FMCG marketing strategies like video content to enhance your landing page and sell your FMCGs. 

Channel: Online

Key benefits: A good landing page introduces you to people who may be visiting your site for the first time. It can help you highlight your products in a back-to-school setting and steer your customers’ attention in the direction that best suits your goals. 

Expected reach: Nearly 20 million students in the United States and 200 million worldwide.

Back-to-school idea #7: Provide free shipping for all school supplies

Source: pinterest.com

Why this works: Customers are price-conscious, and they spend a lot of money on back-to-school FMCGs. Helping them save money whenever they can, will make your website more appealing to their budgets. 

Channel: Online

Key benefits: Even though you have to cover the cost of shipping, customers are more likely to shop with websites that offer it for free. 

Expected reach: About 90% of shoppers are more likely to shop at sites that offer free shipping.

Let’s Help You Scale Up

Back-to-school marketing ideas for bookstores

Whether they’re tackling a reading list or looking for a relaxing read to unwind, students have plenty of reasons to go to a bookstore. People are always wondering where to buy back-to-school supplies, but overlook bookstores. Attract your share of students with these ideas for back to school promotions.

Back-to-school idea #8: Run a student loyalty program

Source: archive.qatarday.com/

Why this works: Loyalty programs show students that they are meaningful to your business. It can help you retain existing customers and keep students coming back all year. 

Channel: In-store and online

Key benefits: A well-structured loyalty program helps to better target students and makes you stand out from competitors. It also helps customers save money, so they may end up buying FMCGs and more. 

Expected reach: About 20% of customers

Back-to-school idea #9: Create product bundles

Source: pinterest.com

Why this works: Back-to-school marketing isn’t all about ads and website impressions, it’s also about increasing your sales. Students have to buy a lot of supplies and materials for school. One of the well-tested FMCG marketing strategies is to bundle and discount these. Appeal to the expense by offering bundles like books on the reading list or bundles of necessary supplies for each grade. 

Channel: In-store and online 

Key benefits: Bundling helps customers save money, which improves their conception of your store. It also helps you market multiple FMCG and other products at once instead of paying effort to promote each. 

Expected reach: The number of students in your area.

Back-to-school idea #10: Provide special discounts for teachers

Source: blog.discountsforteachers.co.uk

Why this works: Students aren’t the only ones prepping for school. Teachers are hard at work too. Back-to-school ideas for staff help you attract faculty who have to make preparations for their classrooms for the year to come. 

Channel: In-store and online

Key benefits: You can build brand loyalty by showing that you care about the teachers in your community. It can also improve your reach if you end up in a roundup blog post on companies offering teacher discounts, particularly on FMCGs. 

Expected reach: The number of teachers in your area and those who attend each school. 

Back-to-school marketing ideas for schools

Marketing isn’t limited to retailers. Private schools, pre-k schools, and others also need to market to attract new students. These back-to-school ideas for kindergarten to high school can help you promote your school.

Back-to-school idea #11: Start promoting your services early

Why this works: The application and registration time can take all summer. While the answer to “When should you go back to school shopping?” can be later for maximum savings, schools should always market earlier in the summer to attract the families living in the area. 

Channel: In-person and online

Key benefits: Promoting your services early helps you build word of mouth for your classes and programs. Get started at the end of each school year. 

Back-to-school idea #12: Provide special discounts for siblings

Source: pbs.twimg.com

Why this works: Tuition is a big expense for many families. Offering discounts can help you attract more families that reside in your area. 

Channels: In-person and online

Key benefits: By offering sibling discounts, you show that you care about families in the community and that you want the tuition to be affordable. 

Expected reach: Depends on how many families are in your area or your applicant pool.

Back-to-school marketing ideas for online courses platforms

Online courses are a big trend these days and the youngest generation seems to appreciate them a lot! If you’re marketing online courses, you can also appeal to back-to-school-minded shoppers.

Back-to-school idea #13: Create course bundles

Why this works: Bundling is a great way to sell more courses, because students may see more value in a full course rather than buying one level at a time. 

Channel: Online

Key benefits: Bundling makes the buying experience simpler, and helps you appeal to more online students. 

Expected reach: About 6 million Americans.

Back-to-school idea #14: Provide discounts to early registrations

Source: richmondstandard.com

Why this works: Offering early registration discounts motivates people to register sooner, helping you boost your chances of filling courses and be better prepared for the demand you will face through the school year. 

Channel: Online

Key benefits: Early registration discounts help build excitement about your courses. It appeals to discount-minded shoppers and creates urgency.

Omnichannel will help you pass the test

Every retailer has different needs when creating an exceptional customer experience, but your online and in-store experiences should be consistent. Use these back-to-school retail ideas to attract customers and an omnichannel customer engagement platform to optimize their experience and move your FMCGs. 

ContactPigeon’s omnichannel customer engagement platform can help you create a seamless experience, whether your back-to-school customers are shopping in-store or online. Book a free 30-min consultation call and chat with a ContactPigeon eCommerce specialist today.

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