Back to school shopping is still largely done in stores because of the bonding experience school shopping creates between parent and child. Yet, many retailers are not capitalizing on this idea. For winter holidays, for example, many retailers host gift wrapping events, happy hour shopping, and pop-up markets. Yet, when was the last time you’ve seen an interactive back to school retail event? There is ample opportunity for retailers to draw in back to school shoppers with events, classes, and promotions.
Utilize School Lists
First and foremost; know what students in your area are required to buy. Get stocked up on the staples you know will sell. Many school PTA programs have options for parents to purchase directly through the PTA. See if you can partner with the PTA or get involved by offering some of your products at a discount in bulk or supplying coupons.
Have the different school lists ready and available at your store. Consider offering “pre-stuffed” backpacks filled with supplies or taking orders over the phone. To really make your store a one-stop-shop, partner with local daycare and tutoring services, sports programs, scout troops, and school clubs to offer sign-ups and registrations at your store. Anything you can do to simplify the process for busy parents and stressed educators will be well received.
Host Event Nights
Again, the back to school shopping process is all about experience and mentally transitioning into school mode. Hosting event nights such as trivia, movie screenings, or game nights are a great way to engage families, create memories, and move merchandise.
Hold Healthy Lunch Classes
Meal prepping, nutrition, and healthy meals on the go are all popular topics. Partner with a local nutritionist or chef to hold classes in your store on putting together healthy kid-friendly lunches. Interactive lessons get the whole family involved. Bonus points if you can incorporate items from your store in the demonstrations.
For many, the product discovery journey starts online. More than ever kids and parents are inspired by products they see on social media. Ramp-up your digital presence and brand awareness by holding a giveaway contest on Instagram. There are several ways to execute this, but the most common is to have people share a themed photo with a specific hashtag. The winner would receive some type of back to school product bundle.
Home-Away-From-Home Care Packages
Back to school also means back to college. Many students spend the semester far from home. As an independent retailer, you likely carry items that are specific to your area, made by other locals, or represent your town. Craft bundles and care packages that are perfect gifts for students to remind them of home.
When planning out your events and sweepstakes, work with the audience that best fits your products. Back to school marketing tends to be all about the kids, but don’t forget about teachers who may be stressed with the start of a new school year, and parents who may be looking to celebrate having some more time to themselves. Back to school season is primetime for brick and mortar retailers. Play to your strengths and get creative to drive more local traffic to your store.