Make the Most of the Back-to-School Season Sale on Amazon

Make the Most of the Back-to-School Season Sale on Amazon

Selling school supplies is a profitable business throughout the year: Kids constantly need items like stationery, laptops, and tablets. For retailers who sell school supplies, though, the back-to-school season sale is the high point of their year. Back-to-school supply sales happen right before school starts in August and September.

Parents who are anxious to get their kids ready for the upcoming school year hurriedly buy a year’s worth of books, notebooks, and supplies within just a few days. Naturally, the Amazon Back-to-School Sale is an opportunity for bookstores and other school supply retailers to generate significant revenue by selling essential study items. If you’re one of the online retailers who consider the back-to-school sale peak season, then you’ll want to keep reading to see how you can make the most out of this period.

Table of сontents:

Why Is the back-to-school season important for Amazon sellers?

Believe it or not, kids’ return to school generates the most sales next to the Christmas season! According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spend close to $83 billion in preparation for K-12 schools and college. This figure is more than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day combined.

Fuelling this buying spree is a 13% year-on-year increase in the amount that US households are planning to spend for back-to-school shopping.

Global pandemic accelerated retail sales growth

While the global pandemic has had dire effects on the world at large, it has accelerated the growth of sales for online products and services in the US. Online sales grew by 32% in 2020—the biggest growth recorded for online retailers, creating an additional $105 billion in revenue.

As schools cautiously reopen and children revert to in-person classes, there’s a lot of potential for online shopping’s continued growth. Despite the vaccine, people are still hesitant about going out again and shopping in traditional physical stores. Many have grown used to shopping online during the pandemic and have adopted it as part of their regular shopping habits.

Online sales: continued positive outlook for retailers

Whichever way you look at it, the profit potential of the back-to-school season sale is more promising than ever for online sellers. Amazon retailers selling school-related items should pay attention and look for ways to capitalize on what can be a much more profitable school season.

Before we dive into specific tactics, let’s get to know this shopping season better—when it starts, how long it lasts, etc.

When Is the best time to start preparing for back-to-school sales?

When does the back-to-school season start? Schools and colleges reopen for new semesters between August 1st and September 5th. Though the shopping season begins in the latter weeks of July, it’s necessary for sellers to start preparing earlier. After the 4th of July celebrations, the next big event is the back-to-school season. Sales preparations must begin well in advance. From studying the market to ensuring you have sufficient inventory, to advertising your products, there’s a lot to be done.

Start paying attention to Amazon and big-box stores from mid- to late June. Kids may still be enjoying their vacations, but, for retailers, preparation for the upcoming school season ideally begins in June and lasts until mid-September.
The next questions are, how do you prepare and what do you do?

The back-to-school sale checklist for Amazon sellers

As we’ve established, the back-to-school season can mean a substantial amount of income for all kinds of retail businesses. It is up to Amazon sellers to find ways to make the most of the season and your sales. Here are some tips.

1. Study and understand your market

Don’t underestimate the importance of this step for having a successful season. Once you understand your market and their needs, you can tailor your products, promotions, and your online store for them.

As an online retailer of school supplies, your market is generally divided into four major groups: elementary, middle school, high school, and college students. Whether you decide to specialize and target one group or go for all four, always keep the needs of your target market at the forefront of your business decisions.

Here is some information about each group. It’s by no means exhaustive or definitive, but it should give you a good start.

Elementary students

Elementary school focuses on creativity and fun. Children will require more art and craft supplies than traditional stationery. Suggested school supplies: scissors, glue, color pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, toys, lunchboxes with fun graphics, printed water bottles, children’s apparel, and footwear.

Middle school

During their pre-teen years, students generally begin to get serious about their grades and studying. This age group usually requires more traditional stationery items. Suggested school supplies: pens, notebooks, pencils, highlighters, binders, backpacks, sports equipment, and pre-teen fashion.

High school

By the time students reach high school, they’re preparing for college and the SATs. They’ll typically be more reliant on electronic devices that they can use for learning. Suggested school supplies: laptops/computers, tablets, USB drives, calculators, stationery supplies, sports equipment, and teen apparel.


Many college students will be moving out of home for the first time in their lives. In addition to all the essentials for classes, they’ll also be needing bed and bath basics.

Suggested school supplies are laptops, textbooks, home decor, bedding, bath towels, toiletries, and any other items one could need for living on their own. Internships, part-time jobs, and interviews may also require students to dress professionally, so formal and semi-formal apparel may also be on their shopping lists. Comfortable shoes to walk around campus, and formal footwear for special occasions, are also a must.

Stocking up on products is essential, but you won’t make any sales if you’re not up to date with the latest trends. This brings us to our next tip…

2. Study trends for all age groups

Being aware of the latest trends is essential for success in any business, but it’s especially true when it comes to school kids. Pay attention to all the trends before updating your inventory. It may surprise you that consumers are willing to pay a premium for small variations, just so they can get a product that they are 100% happy with.

Keep track of the following:

  • Which colors, prints, and designs are most popular, especially when it comes to accessories and stationery items.
  • What are the recently released television shows and movies?
  • Pay attention to popular comics, books, superheroes, and other pop-culture icons. From stationery to clothing, these products sell like hotcakes.
  • Recent changes in music—merchandise of bands with a large fan base are highly coveted.
  • Fashion trends—kids and teenagers usually enjoy experimenting with fashion and personal styles. The beginning of school after a long summer is the perfect time to reinvent their wardrobe.

From stationery and electronics to clothing and footwear, the trends are constantly changing. You may struggle to make a sale with outdated products. Remember that people are willing to pay a premium for the latest products and essential items. This brings us to our next tip on pricing.

3. Use your knowledge to set the right prices

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know what sells and what doesn’t. It’s now time to use this knowledge for your business. If you know which products people are willing to purchase at higher prices, you can set your rates accordingly.

There may be certain products that are selling well despite being more expensive online. This is because people are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of having their purchase delivered to their doorstep.

Consider these factors before setting your prices:

  • Types of products and how competitive the market is.
  • How essential the product is for customers (the demand).
  • Whether you can charge a premium for certain conveniences (e.g. offer shipping choices like expedited shipping).
  • Where you are in the back-to-school season (towards the end of the season, around the middle of September, prices usually fall).

After getting your products and prices in place, it’s time to work on promotion. Read on for a few essential marketing tips.

4. Marketing musts for your back-to-school sale

Make it easy for your target market to find your products. Here’s what you can do to make this happen.

Optimizing product listings

Identify your top-selling products and maximize their visibility by utilizing keyword optimization and product listings. Employ SEO marketing techniques: Ensure your products have accurate descriptions and eye-catching headings to help you attract customers.

Increase Amazon advertising

Advertising before any big event like the back-to-school sale is an effective way to generate higher sales. Allot an amount for promotions and use it strategically for advertising. You may use your budget to help parents and students find your site with pay-per-click ad campaigns that direct them to school-specific landing pages.

Use targeted promotions, offers, and combo bundles

A great way to make your products stand out is to offer unique and targeted bundles. Products that are frequently purchased together and complement each other can be offered as a combo with a discounted price.

This helps push sales and promote your products. For example, if someone was interested in purchasing pencils and erasers, there’s a good chance they may not buy both from your store. However, if you offer a deal on pencils and erasers that are often bought together, consumers will be more inclined to purchase the set than buy them separately.

We’ve covered all the basics, but here’s one type of item that deserves its own section since no class is complete without it: Textbooks!

5. Selling textbooks on Amazon

If you sell textbooks, then the back-to-school sale is particularly important for you. No other time of year rakes in as many sales as this season so make sure you’re ready to make the most of it. Keep the following tips in mind when selling textbooks:

Prepare for an Increase in textbook sales

Make sure your textbooks are updated. If you’re reselling second-hand textbooks, check to see if they’re in good condition and ready for shipping. Orders for textbooks pour in rapidly once the back-to-school sale begins. If you have a healthy inventory of textbooks, then you’ll sail through this season when orders tend to pile up.

Accurate ISBN and condition descriptions

ISBN refers to the International Standard Book Number. This is what a lot of students use to see if the book they’re purchasing is the right one. Make it easy for them to purchase from your store by doing the following.

  • When listing your product on Amazon, get all the details right—from the publication date, edition, and volume, to the number of pages.
  • Accurately fill in all the details regarding the condition of your books. This is essential to avoid unnecessary cancellations and returns.

Shipping and return policies

  • Many students prefer receiving their textbooks as soon as possible, so offer multiple shipping options, including overnight shipping. Up to 25% of online buyers request expedited shipping.
  • Check the delivery time requested for each order and make sure to honor it.
  • Only list textbooks that you can ship out within two days to avoid letting delayed shipments affect your performance ratings.
  • Students often need to return textbooks due to class cancellations and other changes, so accept returns even if the order is fulfilled correctly.
  • Include an address and instructions for returns on the packages themselves to make returning items more convenient for buyers.
  • In case a buyer has returned a textbook, issue the refund as soon as you receive it.

Key takeaway

The Amazon Back-to-School Sale is a lucrative time for retailers who focus on school supplies and student-oriented merchandise. We’ve covered everything you need to do to amp up your sales and have a profitable season. Start preparing early and keep these pointers in mind to optimize sales this semester!

If optimizing and preparing for the sale season isn’t thrilling anymore maybe it is time to start considering selling your business. Benitago can help you get started with a free business evaluation that will be delivered to your inbox within 24h. You just need to fill in the Sell Your “Business Form!

Now it is your turn – do you have a question for the Benitago team? Or maybe you want to start a conversation with like-minded individuals? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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