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6 Ways to Earn an “A” in Back-to-School Merchandising

Back-to-school spending, including shopping for both grade school and college students, is expected to reach $75.8 billion this year, up from $68 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation. This includes everything from school supplies and electronics to apparel and room furnishings. While retailers can’t always control what supplies are needed or how much items cost, they can help make the shopping experience stress-free and productive for students and parents alike. These six easy steps can ensure your store earns an “A” this year:


Leverage marketing tools such as newspaper fliers, mailers, web banners and email blasts to advertise supplies and offer promotions on high-volume items. For example, a BOGO offer on pencils or loose-leaf paper is sure to resonate with parents having more than one school-age child. If your store has a website, don’t forget to offer online promotions as well.


Utilize way finding signage throughout the store to guide shoppers to back-to-school departments. If school supplies are displayed in more than one location within the store, include signage stating where additional items can be found. Ceiling banners and floor decals can help you lead the way while keeping high-traffic aisles clear of clutter.


Crowds of back-to-school shoppers descending upon stores can leave even the most well-arranged and efficient displays in complete disarray. To help prevent this, Self-facing merchandising systems can be added to shelves and corrugated displays to keep products organized and fronted. These systems include dividers to keep products separated and spring-loaded pushers to advance products to shelf edge for easy access.


Adequate signage is probably one of the most important tools to help shoppers find specific items, such as no. 2 pencils, wide-ruled paper, 1” binders, etc. Choose from a wide variety of sign holders to label shelves and displays with descriptive, easy-to-see signage that includes a detailed product description, as well as the retail and promotional pricing.


Display complementary and easily-forgotten products in multiple areas throughout the store. Many popular items such as hand sanitizer, pencil top erasers and pencil sharpeners won’t be on the supply lists but can be beneficial to students. Add easy-to-use shelf extenders and merchandising strips to shelves to keep products front-and-center for easy access.


Hard copies of local school supply lists should be displayed in literature holders throughout the store to ensure no important items are forgotten. In addition, prominently displayed signage, indicating the web addresses of local school districts, can direct shoppers to use their mobile devices to obtain additional lists.