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3 Ways to Take on Back-To-School Promotions During the Pandemic

This year, graduations have looked like never before due to social distancing. There are no cookouts, parties, or the long awaited graduation ceremonies to celebrate all the hard work students have put into their school year. While we can’t get these experiences back, many people have made the best out the situation, and are already looking ahead to next year. So, congrats to grads! Now let’s talk back-to-school promotions.

Seems a little early? Not to retailers. Getting ready for back-to school promotions far in advance is not uncommon for brands. However, retailers have already lost months of preparation due to shifts in strategy and operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve put together this article to provide you with 3 key focus areas so your back-to-school promotions launch as seamlessly as possible during a time when no one really knows what the world will look like tomorrow, let alone when school starts back up.

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1. Start preparing now if you haven’t already

This year is different and full of unknowns. However, in such uncertain times, it’s best to be ready for anything, and it’s never too early to plan for big retail holidays like back-to-school. The truth is no one knows when students will be allowed to actually attend school in-person again, and we won’t know for a while.

While shoppers are eager to enjoy summer as best they can given the circumstances, many brands are already elbow-deep in planning for back-to-school promotions. Although this year will look much different than in the past, students will still need their backpacks, organizers, books, and trendy outfits to feel prepared to tackle the new year. Items added to the list may include things such as new laptops, webcams, ipads, headphones, and eBooks — anything that will make remote studying easier.

2. Be flexible for your shoppers

Now is not the time to be stuck in the past, or make any assumptions about what the 2020 school year may look like. Make sure your back-to-school promotions have the flexibility to pivot if needed.

For example, offer shoppers flexible ways to receive their products. Purchasing them online is currently a necessity, but provide them with shipping options like curb-side pickup, or same day delivery. Also, make your return process as easy as possible. Purchasing items online can still feel intimidating to some shoppers, so help them feel confident when buying.

3. Build a digital-first strategy

Considering 72% of brands are seeing an increase in online traffic, one safe bet is to optimize your back-to-school strategy for digital.

As we learned from the recent 2020 COVID-19 Addendum to the eCommerce Leaders Survey, 74% of brands indicated they were switching to digital initiatives. In fact, the top 3 focus areas were as follows:

Top 3 eCommerce focus areas to aid back-to-school promotions

Your shoppers are online, so engage with them where they are. With social media users at an all time high, and social ad prices low, now is the time to start planning your back-to-school marketing promotions. But your marketing is only as good as the digital experience you are pointing your shoppers to: AKA your eCommerce site.

According to the 2020 eCommerce Leaders Survey, 77% of brands indicated that they tune site performance before peak holidays. With so much depending on digital sales, this year it is more important than ever to have a fast and consistent website. People are almost exclusively shopping online, and traffic levels are increasing. Is your site prepared to handle the influx in traffic due to the back-to-school rush?

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Focus on what you know

While brands cannot predict what the school year will look like, you can still help shoppers prepare for whatever they need when the time comes. Start building out your plans now if you haven’t already, and make sure you are optimizing your digital experience for speed and consistency. Don’t trap yourself in a strict back-to-school promotional plan — you need to allow room to pivot, including a site that can handle the influx in traffic, as social distancing rules adjust. By focusing on digital initiatives, brands will have the fast flexibility to keep up with an unpredictable future.