Merchants Ready To Profit with Back to School Promotions

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 13 Aug, 2012

It's time to focus on beating the bell for back-to-school sales if you're an ecommerce merchant.

According to a recent infographic from AdRoll, 44 percent of parents start their back-to-school shopping in August. And many of these parents are looking toward digital shopping, because the infographic also reveals that online school shopping is expected to increase by 10 percent this year - meaning that 79 percent of back-to-school shoppers are buying supplies online.

Although there are many reasons why parents prefer shopping online over traditional brick and mortar shopping, the most popular reasons why parents are turning to the Web is because it offers an easier way to save money and find discounts as well as research products and pricing.

In order to grab some of the back to school traffic, merchants must be prepared to entice customers to not only visit their online shopping destinations, but also provide them with incentives to make purchases. So let's learn from the experts - take a look at these big-named retailers back to school selling strategies:


Most college students know all about Apple's special pricing and promotions for back to school. In fact, when I was in college I received a free iPod Touch with the purchase of a Macbook, and I am still receiving Apple's emails regarding back to school promotions (good use of email retargeting, Apple).

However, Apple's commitment to education hasn't faltered, because the company is currently offering even more promotions than they have in the past. For example, qualified students receive a $100 gift card that can be used on apps, books, music and movies with the purchase of a Mac, as well as a $50 gift card with the purchase of an iPad. Additionally, students also receive special education pricing on Apple computers, software and select third party products.


Target is one of the most popular locations for traditional brick and mortar back-to-school shoppers, however the company's website is also looking to attract digital shoppers as well. In fact, the retail giant's landing page boldly features back to school sales for college students, while the top of the site promotes free shipping and the left side of the site features a 20 percent savings promotion for back-to-school shopping.

Office Depot

I can almost smell the brand new crayon box aroma upon arrival at Office Depot's website. Not only does this office supply retailer boldly feature back to school at the top of its website, but the company also makes it easy for consumers to shop for age-specific supplies by splitting the materials into grade categories. Additionally, Office Depot features a dollar deal section for shoppers on a budget, and also promotes free shipping with purchases that are more than $50.

Old Navy

Paper and pens aren't the only supplies needed for back to school, especially since everyone knows the most anticipated part of the first day of school is the first outfit. This is why Old Navy has prominently featured a one day sale promotion for back-to-school clothes on its landing page. However, don't be disappointed if your shopping for school uniforms, because the retailer is also promoting a sale for uniform clothing - including solid color polos and khakis.


Not only is Macy's landing page solely dedicated to back-to-school, but the retailer also offers digital consumers an innovative way to shop for clothes. The back-to-school style mixer enables users to mix and match clothing items and accessories in order to build the perfect back-to-school outfits. This technology not only makes it fun for consumers to shop online, but it can also help minimize consumer returns since outfits can be viewed together before purchases are made.