27 Jul, 2017

Retailers Push Back to School Shopping to Stay Ahead


Back to school shopping campaigns are in full swing as brick and mortar stores attempt to attract customers.

The back to school shopping season is one of the most important seasons for retailers.

“Back-to-school (B2S) shopping season accounts for about 50% of annual school-related spend and touches about one-quarter of U.S. households” Deloitte’s 2017 back to school shopping survey reports. 

This year, retail is leveraging big sales to gain popularity over online shopping by starting these campaigns earlier than ever.

“Winning back-to-school, the second-biggest shopping season after the winter holidays, has become extremely important for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as their store operations continue to lose customers to online shopping.” Fortune reports.

Are these efforts working?

According to a recent survey, the competition is still steep.

“62% of back-to-school shoppers will buy items on their smartphones. Most of them will spend more or as much as they did last year on their mobile devices.”  The survey reports.

Since mobile devices make shopping quick and accessible, customers put value in this tool.

Because of this, retailers have to go to great lengths in order to attract customers to stores.

Marketing Campaigns

Campaigns are the most traditional way stores can target an audience.

They can be carried out with a variety of different tools.

  • Print Advertisements
  • Commercials
  • Hashtags – used on social media

This year, campaigns started toward the beginning of June, exceptionally early for back to school shopping.

“Young shoppers want to wrap up their back-to-school shopping as quickly as possible this year. Most people plan to start and finish buying everything they need within one month,”  BrandingBrand reports. 

Deals and Coupons

If it’s one thing a back to school shopper loves it’s back to school deals.

 “Many respondents said they weren’t planning to begin shopping for back-to-school items until they find out about deals or promotions, and close to 90% said promotions influence how much they spend.” Business Insider reports. 

Retailers are leveraging this fact and implementing back to school shopping deals throughout marketing campaigns.

In-Store Technology

In order to fight against the online shopping competition, retailers are integrating in-store technology in stores.

A recent survey suggests that shoppers will be inclined to shop in a store if these tools are offered:

  • Scan-as-you-shop mobile apps – to avoid lengthy check-out time
  • Location check-in platforms to receive personalized deals, coupons or promotions
  • QR codes to check for product information and reviews
  • Augmented reality (AR) applications for an interactive shopping experience

Back to school shoppers are aiming to shop in a quick, efficient matter.

In-store technology enables them to do so.

Social Media

As we know, social media is a prevalent form of communication among young people, influencing where they shop and how.

Retailers are now taking advantage of social media to target their audience.

Social media can be used in a variety of ways to communicate with a customer:

  • To view promotions/ads
  • To receive coupons
  • To browse products
  • To read reviews/recommendations
  • To watch a retail/product video

According to the survey, viewing promotions and ads were the most sought after tool on social media.

“Back-to-school shopping is about satisfying a list of needs and the retailer or product that delivers value and ease in doing so will ring the sale,” writes Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst, mediapost shares.

Go-To Retailers

Target and Walmart continue to be the leading back to school go-to’s for shoppers.

Both stores have gained popularity with students, mainly due to the demand of school supplies.

“2 in 3 back-to-school shoppers plan to find what they need at Target and Walmart this year. Half will purchase from Amazon.” BrandingBrand’s survery concludes. 


Walmart recently invested in Jet.com in order to stay above the Amazon competition.

“To close the gap with Amazon, Wal-Mart acquired online wholesale retailer Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016, through which it not only expanded its product assortment and added more than 400,000 customers, but also gained e-commerce know-how.”

Due to this move, the retail giant is said to possibly beat Amazon with back to school sales.

Walmart’s back to school campaign engages customers with a super-hero theme.

Walmart also reported that there will be online discounts and more items available to purchase online.


Target is pushing to appeal to Hispanic shoppers by making its commercial campaigns in Spanish and English.

This move is expected to reel in more shoppers and appeal to a wider audience.

According to a survey, 64% of shoppers will be going to Target to buy all back to school needs.


North America’s most prominent digital, marketing, technology, and business leaders from the Retail Industry are coming together October 19-20, 2017 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, UT. to attend The Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.

We are thrilled to announce the participation of Martin Barhel, Global Head of eCommerce & Retail Strategy, Facebook, and Brendan Witcher, Principal Analyst, Forrester as speakers at this edition of the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.

Digital transformation in the retail industry is in full swing, and retailers are adapting to forms of technology in order to communicate to a targeted audience and to stay relevant and above the digital wave.

This is seen when back to school campaigns are presented earlier in the year, in efforts to draw customers towards brick and mortar stores for school supplies.

Technology is being implemented in stores more and more in order to connect to the on-demand customer. With augmented reality, in-store technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence technology developing, the retail industry is rapidly changing and evolving in the digital era to stay above the online competition that is constantly growing.

The Digital Retail Transformation Assembly was put together to put like minded individuals together in order to communicate and share innovative knowledge about how to stay up to date with technology and ahead of online shopping experiences.

Join the industries leading CDO’s and CMO’s in discussing unique tools and trends that can put your business in a position to succeed.

This is not just another “Retail” event. Spaces are reserved for the best in the business. Register your interest here >

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