Back2School

How to Maximize Your Back to School Sales

Sure, it’s the middle of summer and the kids are out of school. But, it’s never too early to start thinking about your Back to School selling strategy! Like the Holiday retail moment, Back to School starts earlier and earlier each year. And, just like Holiday, Back to School represents a huge selling opportunity – $75 billion in 2016. We also see specific buying behaviors around Back to School (BTS) in two distinct phases, similar to the phases we identified for Holiday shopping. Here are the details:

  • Phase 1 starts, believe it or not, as early as April or May and focuses on the back-to-college (BTC) audience. During those initial months, Moms begin to think about stocking up on dorm-related items. Additionally, graduation from high school tends to be a time for gifting, and savvy students have items like bedding and decor items on their dorm wish lists. The BTC phase starts July 17th and ends on campus move-in day as students collect the final items they’ll need for dorm life.
  • Phase 2 begins after July 7th and focuses on the kindergarten-through-high school crowd. Mom’s mindset at this time is all about outfitting her kids with the clothes, tech and school supplies to get the new school year started right.

This year, eBay is investing heavily in marketing and promotions to bring BTS shoppers to the site. They’re also aligning the timing of their marketing efforts to maximize sales velocity in each phase. So how can you take advantage of all this goodness?

Back to School Items

Start sourcing inventory now, and consider buying from a wholesaler. If you don’t already have access to BTS inventory, look into buying from a wholesale source like BULQ or eBay Wholesale Deals.

Time your listings to leverage the two phases of BTS. In Phase 1, Moms and BTC students are looking for:

  • Electronics: Laptops, cell phones, printers & storage devices, TVs, and portable audio. Brands to stock up on: Apple, Samsung, Google, Dell, HP, Lenovo, HP, Cannon, LG, Beats by Dr. Dre, Bose, Sony.
  • Fashion: Footwear, backpacks & bags, Health & Beauty, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, and denim. Brands to stock up on: Jansport, Vera Bradley, Aeropostale, Nike, Under Armour, Levi’s, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Herschel, Disney backpacks, Gap Kids, Gymboree, Stride Rite, The North Face, Hollister, American Eagle.
  • Home: bedding, dorm décor, small space furniture, small kitchen appliances, lighting, storage & organization, bath towels and accessories. Specific items to look out for: Bed in a bag, Twin XL sheets, appliances like Keurig, Instapot, Cuisinart, Ninja
  • Lifestyle & Media: Textbooks, luggage, and beginner musical instruments
  • Collectibles: School fan apparel, posters & art, collectible comics and dorm décor
  • Vehicles: Cars & Trucks under $15,000

In Phase 2, the in-demand items for K-12 students will be:

  • Electronics: laptops, cell phones and calculators. Brands to look for: Apple, Google, Samsung, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Texas Instruments
  • Fashion: kids backpacks, backpacks, messenger/shoulder bags, footwear, tees, hoodies, jackets, denim, boys and girls uniforms
  • Lifestyle & Media: Beginner musical instruments
  • School supplies: pens, pencils, notebooks, paper products, calendars, and planners

Get your BTS/BTC items listed using eBay best practices. Make it easy to find your items with keywords and product identifiers. You can spend hours sourcing the right inventory and taking awesome product shots, but if you don’t include the right words and product identifiers (where available) in your descriptions, shoppers will have a hard time finding your BTS merchandise.

Next, think through your promotions strategy. eBay store subscribers have all the tools they need to create marketing messages and compelling offers specifically for BTS. Some ideas:

Consider bundling items. If you carry items that naturally make good bundles (think twin XL bed sheets and a coordinating comforter or an iPad and case), try creating one as a single listing to boost your average order value. Or, if you are an eBay Stores subscriber, you can use the Manage Promotions feature to create an Accessory Discount offer. For instance, you could offer 20% off a lunchbox when a buyer purchases a backpack for their K-12 kiddo, or 10% off pillowcases when they purchase sheets for their college-bound teen.

Use social media to advertise your BTS promotions. If you create offers specific to the #BacktoSchool season, be sure to amplify them via social media (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.). If you don’t have a Store, you can promote specific BTS items instead. Be sure to only feature your best pieces and post sparingly. Tweeting everything you list is one of the fastest ways to lose followers and potential customers.

In the meantime, eBay will be working on a national, multi-channel BTS marketing campaign designed to drive traffic for this monumental opportunity.

And you thought your summer was going to be slow…

Have some BTS tips to share? What product mix or promotions strategy has worked for you in past BTS seasons?  Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to share this article with your peers via email and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

The above article is a guest post. It was authored by Audrey Tracy and originally appeared on the eBay for Business blog and appears here with permission. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and not of BULQ. All content remains the copyright of eBay.

BULQ is bringing you some of the most relevant and informative tips and advice from around the web to help you sell better. Interested in contributing tips on sourcing and selling? Let us know.

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