3 Things Every Brand & Retailer Should Know This Back-To-School Season

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The next major retail catalyst is weeks away from revving up.

Back-to-school season is just around the corner, and the emotions of parents and their little ones probably run the gamut from unbridled excitement to full-on dread.

Wherever they fall on the emotional spectrum, parents and children will be hitting the malls and heading online to find a host of products to meet their footwear and apparel needs for back-to-school.

In the meantime, brands and retailers are also prepping to meet increased demand. Since the overall retail mood has been sluggish in recent months, many companies are looking to the back-to-school season to reinvigorate momentum. This means competition could be especially spirited this time around.

Here, we offer three must-know tips for brands and retailers this back-to-school season.

Step Up Your Digital

Many brands and retailers assume that simply creating a digital presence will help them to compete in an increasingly digital environment. In theory, that’s correct, but in reality it’s far more complicated.

To be successful this back-to-school season — and into the future, period — companies must ensure that their e-commerce site is fully stocked, easy to navigate and efficient. That means: consistent product availability, no hard-to-read text on mobile devices, and having an option to buy online/pick up in store.

Not only is today’s consumer more tech-savvy than ever before, digital natives (the Gen Z consumer) are apt to judge a company harshly if it fails to present well in the digital realm. And a company that is seen as outdated is quickly blacklisted.

It’s hard for today’s sophisticated shopper to believe that a brand or retailer has the trendiest product on the market yet its website is offbeat.

Bottom line: More and more consumers will be headed online for back-to-school this season, and if your desktop and mobile site are not up to par, you will not effectively partake of the revenues.

Make Sure The Price Is Right

Speaking of digital, gone are the days when consumers felt trapped into making a purchase at your store because they’ve already spent the day running around and don’t want to be bothered with further store-to-store price comparisons.

Now, there’s an app for that.

Whether shoppers have downloaded a price comparison app or are simply using their smart phones to scan your competitors’ websites, consumers have tons of ways to make sure that they’re getting the best possible deal on products.

If you’re tacking a couple extra bucks onto the price of your product in hopes of boosting your bottom line, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

Most parents already have their share of financial obligations and many are willing to go the extra mile to save a few bucks. Meanwhile, research shows that today’s teen shopper is more price-conscious than previous generations.

While you don’t have to go overboard with promotions and discounts, it’s crucial that you make sure your prices are in line — if not, better — than your brick-and-mortar and e-commerce counterparts.

Remember What’s The Spice Of Life

According to the latest note from Cowen and Co. analyst Oliver Chen, for footwear and apparel companies with a mall presence: “Being basic for back-to-school won’t cut it.”

The back-to-school crowd is looking for variety. Remember: This is a time of year when shoppers are buying footwear and apparel in bulk to be worn for a range of occasions throughout the school year. Shoppers will want a little bit of this and a little bit of that. They’ll want everyday pieces as well as a few standout styles.

And don’t forget to have snazzy options for that “first day of school” look.