Staying Ahead of the Curve: Prepare your Supply Chain for the Back To School Season
School’s out for summer! It’s time to kick back and relax on the beach…while you make back to school shopping lists using your notes app. As one of the biggest shopping events in the U.S., Amazon Prime Day (scheduled for July 11th and 12th this year!) marks the unofficial start to the back-to-school shopping season. Second-only to the winter holidays, back-to-school shopping continues to account for record amounts of spending and remains an essential category for retailers and their suppliers.
As we head into the 2023 back-to-school shopping season, retailers need to be prepared to compete, once again, for the attention of their customers. Meanwhile, suppliers will need to ensure they are consistently meeting high customer expectations, while they face increased demand.
Getting a Head Start
Buyer behaviors are becoming more and more complex. There are several factors that today’s businesses have to consider when planning for this shopping season, including:
- The impacts of rising inflation on buyer preferences
- How to entice price-conscious shoppers with hassle-free shopping experiences
Meeting an increasingly omnichannel world with an omnichannel fulfillment strategy is critical to capturing sales. Optimizing your supply chain is the first step towards capitalizing on current buyer behaviors. The right inventory management software will show you how to streamline fulfillment and, as a result, the shopping experience.
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If You’re Not Early, You’re Late
Typically, the back-to-school shopping season begins in July and continues into mid-September. That number tends to increase dramatically by mid-July, as consumers take advantage of Amazon Prime Day sales. Ultimately, getting a head start is an important consumer strategy that businesses should be aware of. This long buying window allows consumers to find the best deals, as retailers host competing sales.
It’s never too early to get your supply chain ready to meet the upcoming surge in activity. To help, we’ve gathered a list of key trends to be aware of and the most effective inventory management strategies that will optimize your supply chain for back-to-school success.
1. Following Today’s Influencers
Back-to-school buying trends are shaped by social media trends. 2 in 3 eight- to eleven-year-olds have access to smartphones and many digitally savvy kids admit to buying items online at least once per week.
2. Loyalty’s Not in the Budget
Last year, school supplies were 7% more expensive than the year before, and clothing prices had increased 18%. As prices continue to rise, brand loyalty gets harder to find. More and more consumers are willing to switch brands if the competing brands are offering better deals, coupons, or discounts.
3. The Future is Omnichannel
More than a third of back-to-school shoppers are expected to use online and social media platforms to shop. Platforms like TikTok create opportunities for businesses to streamline their shopping experience with emerging technology like digital wallets and socially shoppable content. Yet, as e-commerce grows 10-12% annually, consumers still expect an omnichannel shopping journey. For example, this could mean buying online and picking up in-store.
4. Sustainable Buying Behaviours
It’s more difficult than ever to capture and maintain your customer’s attention. With businesses offering competing sales and shoppers hunting for the best deals, it’s important to communicate your company’s value in less direct ways. Sustainability continues to be a strong consideration for consumers. 50% of parents are choosing sustainable back-to-school options over the alternatives, prompting 22% higher-than-average spending.
Don’t fall behind! Prepare for a successful school year.
Getting an A+ in Inventory Management
As we’ve seen, the back-to-school shopping season represents a substantial portion of annual revenue for retailers and suppliers. It’s a crucial time to get the right strategies in place for optimizing your supply chain. To thrive in this shopping season, you’ll need to adopt effective inventory management strategies. Here are some to consider:
4 Strategies to Prepare Your Supply Chain for Back to School Success:
#1: Ensure a Hassle-free eCommerce Shopping Experience
It’s no surprise that online shopping is more convenient for busy parents and digitally savvy kids. Currently, at least 39% of all back-to-school sales are made online. So, effective inventory management practices like barcode scanning and automatic replenishment are necessary to streamline the shopping experience.
#2: Prepare for Omnichannel Order Management and Fulfillment
For retailers, selling your products on popular platforms like Amazon, Walmart.com, and Target+ increases your visibility. It’s important to remember, though, that buyer behavior still consists of a mix of online and in-person shopping. To avoid stockouts and lost sales, your inventory management system will need to offer full visibility of your entire supply chain, across multiple warehouses and in real-time.
#3: Upgrade Your Supply Chain Management Technology
Full supply chain visibility gives your business the agility it needs to pivot quickly based on changing buyer behaviors. Choose an inventory management system that offers integrated solutions like Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) that streamlines communications with your partners. Sharing information in real time reduces lead times and supports strategic decisions.
#4: Stay Flexible and Adaptable
Students need to be ready for the first day of school. So, ensuring your deliveries are on time, every time, is non-negotiable. Look for an inventory management system that supports omnichannel order fulfillment as well as shipping integrations. A powerful system will reduce shipping costs and ensure shipment accuracy, making sure your product arrives on time despite increased order volume and supply chain disruptions.
Pass or Fail: The Right Inventory Management System Makes All the Difference
When it comes to preparing supply chains for back-to-school success, Clear Spider continues to be the preferred choice for businesses seeking a competitive edge. With a range of solutions designed to address the challenges of the season, Clear Spider’s inventory management system stands out as the most reliable and powerful choice.
Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI):
Clear Spider’s Vendor Managed Inventory solution enables seamless collaboration between suppliers and retailers, ensuring efficient replenishment and optimized stock levels.
Warehouse Management System (WMS):
Clear Spider’s Warehouse Management System delivers complete inventory visibility across multiple warehouses, accurate order fulfillment, optimized storage, and improved operational workflows.
Inventory Management and Control:
Clear Spider’s Inventory Management and Control solution tracks inventory levels in real time, leading to accurate forecasting, reduced stockouts and improved customer satisfaction.
Order and Shipping Management:
Clear Spider’s Order and Shipping Management solution streamlines omnichannel order processing, tracking, and delivery, reducing fulfillment errors and delivering on time, every time.
Pairing Clear Spider’s inventory solutions with Barcode Scanning technology eliminates manual data entry errors and improves productivity.
Clear Spider’s Automatic Replenishment feature makes it easy for suppliers and retailers to maintain optimal inventory levels to reliably meet demand.
Clear Spider system uses serial numbers to track expensive items like laptops and tablets with details about item warranties, ownership, repair and/or return status.
Clear Spider seamlessly integrates with point-of-sale systems, providing real-time inventory updates that help suppliers make informed inventory decisions.
Clear Spider’s eCommerce integration ensures synchronized inventory across online sales channels, preventing stockouts and maximizing profits.
Don’t Miss the Mark
The back-to-school shopping season is a true test of supply chain preparedness. So, what’s the key to unlocking your supply chain’s potential? An effective inventory management system that streamlines your operations. With Clear Spider’s expertise and industry-leading software, your supply chain will pass this back-to-school test with flying colors.