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Back To School – Now The Third Biggest Retail Event Of The Year

Aug 7, 2019 | Tips & Advice

How your business can capitalise on the annual summer spending spree

The summer holidays may have only just started but many shoppers are already thinking about what they need to buy before the new school year starts in September.

As the third biggest shopping event in the UK, back to school shopping is only beaten by Christmas and Black Friday. In 2017 alone, back to school spending reached a total of almost £1 billion.

Brits spent £915 million on back-to-school shopping in 2017:

915 million spent on school essentials

Infograph average parent spend on school essentials

Now is the key time to get in front of your customers

According to Mintel research, the two to five weeks prior to the new term starting is the prime time for retailers to ramp up their marketing activity. With 14% of back-to-school shoppers choosing to buy online, and more than 30% of families having an Amazon Prime membership, it’s clear that many people are hitting the online market for the cost savings and convenience it offers.

So, how can you make yourself stand out within the heavily populated online market?

  • Offering a broader selection of products can put you in front of more customers. Clothing and accessories are in the top area of spending. Offering uniforms, bags, pencil cases and even tights, hair ties and uniform labels can be a great way of providing a one-stop-shop for time-poor parents. Better still, offering discounts on back-to-school bundles is a great way to increase your sales volumes and average order value.
  • It may sound obvious, but the power of detailed product descriptions can be often overlooked. Entice your ideal buyer with lots of photos, interesting product stories and simplified lists of the key features and benefits you’d like them to know. Using key words, such as ‘school bag’, also helps to ensure that you don’t get lost online.

Back to school

  • Remember that price isn’t everything. Competitive pricing can be key to landing a sale, but not everyone is after the cheapest option. 43% of parents with children aged 6-12 say that quality is an important buying factor, especially when it comes to kids’ clothes and shoes. Good customer service can also go a long way in encouraging return customers and positive reviews.
  • Evaluate your delivery and returns options. Offering free delivery and returns can make the difference between someone choosing to purchase your products. Not only do customers feel like they’re getting a great deal when not paying for postage, should they change their mind, free returns can provide the peace of mind that they’re not going to be out of pocket. As with most things, there are pros and cons arguments for both, but with 62% of customers feeling frustrated if free returns aren’t offered, it might be worth considering. 

Optimise your fulfilment to keep your store top of the class

While capitalising on the extra sales opportunities presented during busy periods, it’s also important to make sure you have the capacity to fulfil these extra orders. Maximising your warehouse capability is the best way to prepare for the peak season. By automating your processes, you can ensure that you are prepared for an influx of orders and keep your customers happy enough to come back again.

Back to school stock control

  • Measure your performance. Establish a baseline to help you develop a better idea of where you can improve. Gather information such as how long each pick is taking, how long it takes to unpack orders in and how many orders you ship each day.
  • Keep an accurate stock inventory. Your profits from extra sales soon dwindle when there’s also capital tied up in unsold stock. Ensure that your stock is kept where your system says it is and limit the amount of safety stock you hold by keeping an accurate inventory. Using stock control software can help you accurately manage your inventory. Better still, some options can integrate with all aspects of your company’s operations such as purchase and customer order systems to feed accurate stock levels back to your website and other sales channels. Not only will this reduce overselling, but you’ll also lessen subsequent issues with refunds and late fulfilment.
  • Reduce touches to improve efficiency. See if you can reduce the number of steps it takes to fulfil orders. Using handheld barcode scanning terminals alongside warehouse management software can help you speed up fulfilment and improve picking accuracy. Does your stock even need putting away on shelves if an order is already waiting? Eliminate double-handling and you’ll soon see more orders flying out the door.
  • Reassess your floor plan and organise your warehouse. Make the best use of the space available and enable easy access to your goods. It’s also essential to consider where your products are stored – stocking similar products together and putting high demand items closer to the front can make things easier for your picking team.

OrderWise provides stock and order management software for comprehensive end-to-end inventory management and fulfilment. We can also bring together all strands of your business into a single cutting-edge application. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you improve your processes, give us a call on 01522 704083.