The back-to-school season is upon us and it is an important shopping period as usual. Retailers and consumers gearing up for a flurry of activity. As the 2023 season takes shape, there are intriguing shifts in shopping trends and consumer behavior we think you should know about. In this article, we will delve into the key trends and statistics shaping back-to-school retail behavior in 2023. We will also explore how online channels can adapt their strategies to win in this unique landscape from changing spending priorities to the power of online shopping and the impact of social media.
Shifting Financial Priorities
Most parents have been significantly impacted by the recent 18 months of inflation and have changed their spending behavior accordingly. That combined with the experience of higher prices in the aftermath of the pandemic means that parents are now displaying price sensitivity and reevaluating their shopping approach. Budgets are under strain and families are reassessing their spending priorities to protect their savings and allocate more of their budget towards things like vacations.. This shift in priorities is naturally going to impact spending decisions during the back-to-school shopping season.
At the same time, back-to-college and back-to-school shopping are still expected to reach record levels in 2023 despite the decrease in overall spending. To make matters worse, the prices of school supplies have increased by 23.7% in the past two years, pushing families to actively seek out deals and discounts. It is no surprise then that the value and discount retail sector has experienced a significant boost, with discount stores and dollar stores reporting a 25% increase in sales compared to last year's back-to-school season. Therefore, we should not lose heart because while parents may be more cautious about their spending, the overall retail market is still likely to witness significant activity.
The Power of Online Shopping
While brick-and-mortar stores remain popular for back-to-school shopping, online retail has already built up a formidable presence. Online sales have seen a 15% increase so far compared to the same period in 2022, indicating that convenience and the ability to compare prices quickly are winning over many shoppers. Search data also suggests that consumers are starting their back-to-school shopping earlier than ever since there has been a significant uptick in sales beginning as early as late June. This early shopping trend indicates that parents are becoming more proactive in ensuring their children are well-prepared for the school year, which might be the result of having gone through the period of pandemic-related uncertainties and supply chain concerns.
The demand for essential school supplies like textbooks, notebooks, stationery, and backpacks is seeing a predictable surge as families prepare for the new academic year. However, the most significant boom in sales this year has been experienced by the technology segment. With digital learning still prevalent, sales of laptops, tablets, and related tech accessories have jumped up 20% compared to last year, which shows that the new blend of traditional and digital learning environments is here to stay.
Social Media and Shopping
Social media have unquestionably emerged as a powerful influence on consumer shopping behavior in recent years. A survey conducted in 2022 showed that approximately 35% of parents planned to use social media websites to assist them in their back-to-school shopping. This trend highlights the growing role of social media platforms in product discovery, deals, and recommendations. Social media platforms also showcase growing trends and new brands, allowing parents and students to explore new categories of products. For example, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) market is growing rapidly, and this is reflected in the back-to-school market. Parents are increasingly looking for more STEM-related products for their children, such as educational toys and games.
Plus, there is also sustainability. It is much more than just a buzzword in 2023. It undoubtedly is a definitive consumer preference. Sales of eco-friendly school supplies have soared 30%, so the consumer demand for products that minimize harm to the environment is clear .
What can online channels Do to Win
In light of the changing market landscape, online channels need to adapt their strategies to cater to price-sensitive consumers. Offering attractive deals, discounts, and promotions will be crucial in attracting shoppers this season. Engaging with potential customers on social media platforms and leveraging these platforms for marketing campaigns will provide an edge in this competitive market.
While parents focus on replenishing school supplies, online channels can create value by offering curated bundles and deals on essential items. Emphasizing convenience, fast shipping, and user-friendly website experiences will enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Despite the growth of online shopping, consumers still appreciate an omnichannel shopping experience. Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) services and curbside pickups have seen a substantial increase, indicating that consumers value the convenience of online shopping while still benefiting from the convenient immediacy of physical retail.
The 2023 back-to-school season represents both challenges and major opportunities for online channels. By understanding consumer sentiment and aligning their offerings accordingly, you can successfully navigate this unique landscape . Adapting strategies to cater to price-sensitive consumers, leveraging social media platforms, and offering convenient shopping experiences will be crucial in winning shoppers over . As consumer behavior continues to evolve, those who can quickly adapt to these changing trends and provide consumers with a seamless shopping experience both in-store and online will be the clear winners. If you have an online channel, we recommend that you stay ahead of the curve, so that you can thrive in the back-to-school market and be ready for every season to come.
LEAFIO will continue to monitor these trends on your behalf, providing you with the data and insights you need to stay informed. To learn more about optimizing your eCommerce stores for modern retail, book a demo with us today!
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY
In today's dynamic retail landscape, consumers expect a seamless shopping experience across various channels, whether online or in-store. Omnichannel strategies are essential for retailers aiming to create a unified and convenient shopping journey. During the back-to-school season, retailers with a strong omnichannel presence can provide options like Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickups. These options cater to consumers who value the convenience of online shopping while still appreciating the immediacy of physical retail.
Implementing the concept of omnichannel is more difficult than it seems at first glance. First of all, you have to synchronize the IT systems responsible for each channel. Otherwise, there will be no connection between communication channels. You can avoid these difficulties by implementing an automation platform with omnichannel support. This will solve problems with product content management and order processing on different sites.
Leafio Inventory Optimization management system will be an excellent solution for managing an omnichannel business model. With this cloud solution, you can take your business to the next level of stock managing, which, in turn:
- supply chain-related automation of business processes at each stage;
- unleash human resources for better work with stock;
- use of the analytical module for a comprehensive understanding of the business and building a development strategy.
By now, you should understand the importance of omnichannel inventory management. But how and where can you start optimization?
Here are a few easy steps to assist you:
- Make your inventory count. Before you start improving any system, you’d better understand where you are. Take a step back and analyze your current inventory management. Think about how your supply chains work and what you do to track inventory.
- Allocate resources and use appropriate technologies. Evaluate omnichannel business software options. You should now have an idea of where the greatest improvement is possible. Based on this, evaluate the various inventory management solutions on the market. Find the one to bring the most value to your company.
- Make a quality shopping and user experience your top priority. When you implement a new solution, make sure you don't do it just for the sake of change. Each of your changes should be for improving the customer experience.