Riding the Back-To-School Wave to Retail Success

Anyone who’s been in the retail business knows how important capitalizing on the shopping wave during the back-to-school, or BTS, season is. Depending upon which expert you ask, this potential boom in sales is the 2nd, or 3rd, biggest one during a calendar year.

As summer camps draw to an end, parents start a frenzy of last-minute shopping for school, which, combined with back-to-college shopping, translates to a whopping $68 billion spent. This means that merchandising and marketing strategies, and the ever-important multi-channel shopping experience at retails chain, all need to be tweaked.

Let’s take a closer look and delve deeper into seasonal retailer and e-tailer techniques for riding the back-to-school wave, and what exactly BTS and BTC mean for retailers.

Understanding the Significance of Back-to-School Shopping

The BTS season is a little different from the boost in sales during ‘normal’ holiday seasons. In a nutshell, it’s longer than these other ‘boosted sales’ periods.

Parents may begin their research on products, prices, and promotional offers — usually online — as early as July. They compare the collected data and make their decisions by the month of August, making the purchase around the same period. Last-minute frazzled trips are usually done and dusted by September. This means that retailers have a longer window of potential sales compared to other big sales days, such as (say) Black Friday.

Products that receive a boost during the BTS shopping window include office supplies, apparel, electronics, and books. This long list of products, and the relatively longer sales window, make strategies a little more complicated during the BTS season.

Brick-And-Mortar Stores Rejoice!

As more and more e-tailers take over territory originally occupied by brick-and-mortar retail outlets, you could be forgiven for assuming that retail stores won’t be doing much business. To the contrary, though, it’s these stores that will see more traffic than their online counterparts. While parents will head to their laptops to buy devices and wearables for their kids, all other purchases will get them walking into brick-and-mortar stores.

School supplies such as notebooks, textbooks, and writing materials drive parents to stores, with kids in tow. Stores are the primary choice for parents buying writing materials and books (87%). These are followed — in terms of brick-and-mortar store demand — by shoes (80%), jewelry and accessories (64%), and clothes (64%).

Even as store-based retailers gear up for wars with e-tailers during the upcoming holiday season, they are set to receive a boost in sales from BTS parents.

It’s easy to see why: parents need to shop with their kids to accommodate their preferences, and most feel this is best done at a store, rather than online.

Tailoring Your Strategies Accordingly

Since we’ve already discussed the massive potential of this season, let’s take a look at marketing — and merchandising — strategies designed to help you achieve optimal returns.

First, you’ll need to understand that customers are primarily concerned with who offers the best deals. As a retailer, your first priority would be to think along those lines, and come up with a strategy that helps you put your brand right there. Even Apple — not a brand known for offering sales — caves in during the BTS season, offering discounted ‘student’ and ‘education’ prices.

Clothing giants such as Urban Outfitters and H&M target children from middle-school through college age with carefully planned ads. Take a closer look at textile e-tailer websites, and you’ll probably see smiling school and college kids, with huge blurbs advertising discounts up to 70%.

Take a look at your competitors, and make sure you stay ahead of the game. Build marketing strategies around the BTS shoppers, and you’ll see your sales numbers rise.

E-Commerce-Specific Strategies, Techniques, and Ideas

With so many consumers spending so much of their time online, the retail industry today — while still relying on in-store interactions — has grown to depend on big data and online transactions.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to embrace social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. In fact, that last tweet-broadcasting platform now has a ‘buy’ button, letting you sell products right off your Twitter timeline. If you aren’t aware of what the ‘Twitter’ timeline is, your brand’s social media game is in need of some serious updates this BTS season.

Seeing as 41% of college-goers base their buying decisions on smartphone-based research, M-commerce is another concept that needs to be embraced in order to ride the BTC wave.

Wherever your potential customers spend their smartphone browsing time is where your brand needs to be front and center. For instance, the humor app ‘9GAG’ had 164 million visitors in December 2015 alone. Considering that most of these users are college students on their phones, this is a great place to advertise.

You can use retail analytics software providers such as Intelligence Node to help you build strategies based on big data and competitor trends.

Embracing concepts like new social media platforms and big data, and understanding the significance of a strategy tailored to buyer trends in the BTS season, you’ll be able to capitalize on the buying trends of parents scurrying to stores with school-going kids close on their heels.

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Retail trends and prospects in the world of luxury items

Luxury is relative, they say. By all definitions, luxury is also exclusive. In times when the West discovered new routes to the East, it was in search of this same luxury. The pepper trade, the silk trade, diamonds- they came with a huge price tag. And the ones who were capable of paying for it, flaunted it with pride.

There has always been a basic concept about luxury- from the traders’ point of view. Exchanging a high quality or rare piece of merchandise for the highest price. And for centuries, the high end retail market, that accounted for 390 USD in 2012 (BCG), has been following this system.
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Undressing Today Men’s Fashion – Trends for this Summer

Summer is here. Well almost over. But as they say, enjoy it while it lasts, right? Summer means cool colours, breezy evenings, shades and drinking out of coconuts. Vacation time! Holidays are the time when people distress, have fun, and generally enjoy life.

When summer is mentioned, fashion too takes a distinctly relaxed flavour. No one cares about proper attire or propriety while on holiday, do they? When we think summer fashion, we inevitably think Adam Sandler or The Hangover.

Which kind of proves the point that fashion is not a female only bastion. Men today are more fashionable than ever. While it may seem to some that variety in men’s fashion is limited, this is just an illusion. The men’s fashion industry is growing every day.

And men are becoming very savvy about looking good. Let us tell you a secret: you don’t need good looks to look good today. All you need is the right clothes- or the right people telling you what to buy.

So yes, we do remember reading about those days in Regency England (courtesy Jane Austen), when men dressed up as elegantly as the ladies. Or the times before the First World War, when men wore wigs and pomades and skin tinctures and created a fashionable look for themselves.

Mad Men proved that any stereotype can be broken after all. According to a 2013 luxury goods study by consulting firm Bain & Company, growth in the market for men’s ready-to-wear has outpaced that of womenswear, increasing between 9 and 13 percent year-on-year.

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Of Dreams & Diamonds…

There’s looks and then there’s looks. The former makes you feel happy or sad or loved or disappointed. And the latter make you the centre of attention, period. Looks are the brainchild of luxury. And what better place to explain luxury than on the Red Carpet at one of the most glamorous events in our culture- Festival de Cannes!

At IntelligenceNODE, we have been studying looks at various events as a part of our discussion on trends. And the Red Carpet at Cannes is as larger than life as it gets. With the bold and the beautiful stepping out in their summer best, we noticed some trends popping out, subtly of course.

Maybe that is the way to go this summer! Or not. These trends include pastel tones, minimalist looks and clear fabrics. And of course brands. But there is one trend that is emerging and surpassing the others. Diamonds!

Not too much on one person. But then one diamond accessory from Chopard or Bulgari is statement enough, isn’t it?

Female actor Julianne Moore has been wowing with exquisite jewellery on the Red Carpet from day 1.

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The Elusive Elevator Pitch and Other Things…

What is the one thing you would tell Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or Larry Page & Sergey Brin if you are riding the same lift, together? You have less than 10 seconds to think, formulate words and speak up. What would you tell them, if you wanted them to hire you- on the spot, without a doubt?

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6 Fashion bags to Follow This Season for Retailers

Branded bags and quality luggage has arrived! Now is the time when every little detail- from a dainty hairpin to the right bag is vital to look modern. With the growing influence of fashion consciousness and rising expendable incomes, bags have become a status symbol.

The global luggage and leather goods industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% during 2014-2019. The total retail sales value of the Indian luggage market alone is forecast to be about 1.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.

This shows just how much evolution the modern consumer has gone through, in terms of international travel, economic growth and industrial innovation. At IntelligenceNODE, we have the privilege of following popular trends, leading us to comprehend popular consumer behavior. And as a retailer, we think that these insights will be very useful to you.

We generally come across 4 main types of “bag people…”

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“Conceptualize”- @Lakme India Fashion Week

The much awaited ICC Cricket World Cup Semi-Final is over and done with. A few billion Indian fans are feeling the loss of the World cup trophy. But our retailers have already picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and are ready for the next opportunity to do great stuff.

And in the same spirit of sportsmanship, we too are ready for the big events that will add value to the shelves of the marketers and the wardrobes of the world. In the meantime, since we are a big data analytics organization, and analysis is our bread and butter; we did an interesting study of certain words- that lend themselves to “trending” online, sometimes for less than a day, but are electric enough to stay with people even now.

We observed a lot of great ideas that our very own fashion designers espoused, this year, at the Lakme Fashion Week. And no, we are not just referring to Instagram campaigns and digital runways. One notable mention, though, to Masaba Gupta for taking her collection to the digital stage- all candies and pop.

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Trend Tales @ Lakme Fashion Week

Street style is like the pulse of fashion. And fashion weeks are when the best and the brightest shine out. When it comes to ‘street style,’ we think that these styles are the ones that will rock the runways and the roadways at the same time.

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Flawless Eyewear Trends for this summer!

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This iconic image from Breakfast at Tiffany’s has taken over the active imagination of people all over the world. It has, literally changed and broken many stereotypes about fashion.

Since we are a part of the fashion industry, at Intelligence Node, this image has three takeaways for us:

One, the lady herself!


 

Elegance is the Only Beauty that Never Fades.

-Audrey Hepburn


 

Two- BLACK is always IN.

And Three- Sunglasses go with ANY look!

It is the last one we want to talk about today. Sunglasses.

Today accessorizing is all about choosing the correct thing to go with your dress or look. And ‘sunglasses’ are the ultimate accessory. Not just because they look cool. No. But because they are so expensive- they are sure to grab eyeballs, even the ones hiding behind them!

There’s a lot of sizzle in the sun-glass business, reports predict. Luxottica, the leading manufacturer and, in most cases, owner of fashion eye-wear (they also make and own prescription opticals) earned a revenue of 2.02 Billion Euros in the 2nd quarter of 2013 alone.


 

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The profits and revenues are growing exponentially. And so is demand. It was not so long ago that glasses were considered ugly or geeky. And people did not wear them unless they had to. But this perception was subtly changed, by movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and Tom Cruise, among others.

The big fashion houses loved the trend too. And we had Versace, Prada, Ralph Lauren, etc., selling branded sunglasses. Today these sunglasses are mostly in the ‘premium’ range. Any branded and authentic pair of sunglasses costs anywhere upwards of 1000 Rupees.

In spite of the many debates going on about how and why quality eye-wear is so expensive, people are not deterred. They are happy to pay 6000 Rupees. for a ‘branded’ pair of sunglasses. There is a parallel market selling cheaper versions of the sunglasses, on the streets especially. And these make a good profit too. But that does not stop the originals from reaching high profit margins in any way.

This year, the various fashion weeks too used eye-wear to give their various collections a special zing. Fashion makers know that sunglasses are like the one accessory that determines a time or a place that a look was conceived in.

At Intelligence Node, we think that glares were, are and always will be cool.

As Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham wowed the crowds with this, ‘not too normal for her,’ ensemble, while marketing her own line of branded sunglasses.


 

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But, and this is our main concern, when it comes to e-commerce, and selling or buying sunglasses on-line, there is one big question that comes to mind- what shape or style will suit my face? As a retailer selling sunglasses, reaching perfection when it comes to individual sales is a big challenge.

When it comes to eTail, especially for websites selling a variety of apparel and accessories, betting on ‘the sunnies’ is a risky proposition. These are products that have a higher margin; and so may remain on the shelves longer. And trends don’t really affect the sunglasses. Sun-glass styles keep rotating from time to time.

Knowing all this, how to ensure that your customers buy sunglasses- repeatedly? How to ensure that your prices are not turning away customers? How to decide which brands to capitalize on? These are the questions that most etailers have to bet on.

We say, why bet- when you can be sure? You have a lot of info at your disposal; why not use it to understand the current climate and accordingly adjust your prices, processes, etc. Providing a virtual environment that complements the various face shapes and also fits specific budgets is not impossible any more. Your insights will give you the answers that you need.

At Intelligence Node we believe that when it comes to sunglasses- the two “P”s are perfectly applicable- ‘premium’ and ‘personalized.’ Utilizing the resources one has, and not digging for things that may or may not exist, is the way to success we think. And you dear retailers have been doing just that for ages. This is why we love working with you!