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by Michael P. Hill August 09, 2016

As August winds down, the back to school shopping season (which can be quite lucrative for all types of Shopify stores) is quickly approaching — but how can you take advantage of this busy season and make sure your Shopify theme is ready?

Curate collections

One of the more effective things you can do to get ready for back to school and fall is to create curated collections for products that are likely to be in demand. For some stores, this will be pretty obvious — such as school supplies, dorm or classroom decor or storage, or fall fashions and kid’s apparel.

However, there are also good marketing opportunities for stores that may not carry items traditionally associated with this part of the retail year:

  • Build collections that are inspired by the colors of fall — pick out some of your warmer-tone products that come in oranges, browns and yellows. It’s also quick and easy to create solid color or patterned backgrounds for homepage banners and slideshows.
  • On a broader scale, think thematically about autumn as the season of a new school year and look for products that might help inspire and motivate during this “new leaf” in academics. Think beyond kids though, as this is the season when even adults think about starting a new hobby, project or special interest night class.
  • Consider how your products are used by your customers and think about products that might be more in demand as the weather starts to shift. Maybe you sell coffee for example, or knitting yarn — cozy, warm products that people tend to turn towards during the coming cooler months. Create collections that target some of these unique needs and be sure to emphasize how the products can fit into your customers’ lives.
  • Although back to school is commonly associated with kids and college students’ there’s also a lot of ripple effects of the back-to-class season — including increased stress for parents and teachers, busier household schedules and, for parents of college aged kids, an empty nest, so think about how your products might fit into these needs as well. For example, candles and bath products can be a great way for harried parents to unwind!

By getting a little creative, you’ll be able to showcase the versatility of your products and business while also helping customers find new uses for your products.

There are a few other factors to keep in mind when building fall themed collections:

  • If you have a large international or even nationwide audience, don’t forget that the weather doesn’t change that much in all areas of the world for fall, so be sure to keep that in mind, especially when it comes to apparel.
  • Likewise, also keep in mind that fall is actually the spring in the southern hemisphere, so stores with a wide international audience should take that into consideration when writing copy or headlines.

Accent your logo

Now’s also a great time to use a favorite trick — add a modified version of your logo that’s accented with back to school or fall imagery. For example, you might consider adding an apple to your logo (or even placing part of all of your logo inside one) or perhaps fluttering leaves surrounding it.

If you’re not a designer, sites such as UpWork and Fiverr often offer these services for affordable rates — and a logo update is an easy way to keep things fresh without a lot of effort.

Update your images

It’s also a great idea to showcase your back to school products and other featured collections, as discussed above, in your homepage slideshows and banners.

Search stock sites for ideas associated with back to school or the fall season — such as school supplies, apples and leaves.

For simpler designs that also work best across all device sizes, look for patterns such as leaves, a chalkboard with “scuff” marks on it, apples or other back to school and fall imagery.

You could also think about reshooting some of your product photos in an outdoor or fall-like setting, which you could use for banners or actual product images. Easy and effective ideas include placing your products on a log stump, on top of rocks, or in front of an old barn wall, hay bale or basket of apples.

Shipping, specs and sales

Also remember that, if you’re selling items for kids heading back to school, many parents will be buying at the last minute, so be sure to make it clear what shipping timelines are available — and have the inventory and staff to support a boost in last minute orders to avoid disappointing customers.

It’s also a good idea to review your product descriptions for items that are back to school related and beef up the specifications you list. Many schools list highly specific descriptions on supply lists, so it’s a good idea to make sure shoppers are aware of as much detail as possible to cut back on returns and disappointment.

Other features that are good to spotlight are:

  • Items that can be personalized with a child’s name.
  • Items that can be written on with a marker or gel pen for labeling purposes.
  • Items that work well for specific requirements related to schools — such as apparel that’s great for gym classes.
  • Items that are compact in size so they fit into backpacks, lunch boxes, lockers or cubbies at school.
  • Items that are designed to stand up to rough handling (you could even consider offering a replacement guarantee if the item breaks during the first school year).
  • Items that are “teacher approved” — though make sure they actually are!

Looking ahead

Also, don’t forget that back to school season is just a precursor to the holiday shopping season.

It may seem like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday are far off — but they will be here before you know it — so it’s always a good time to start thinking about what kind of logo updates or banner images you might want to do for that as well.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can even start working on getting this design work done now. There may be an opportunity to be more efficient or even save some money by commissioning all of your artwork now.

You can also use the last few weeks of the summer to start building curated collections for the holiday and winter season. Because as much as we all want to hang on to summer, we know it’s just a matter of time before the first leaf, then the first snowflake, falls!

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.


3 Responses

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

August 28, 2016

@Duke: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed. Did you have any chances to try anything out for your fall sales?

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

August 25, 2016

@Duke Glad you found these tips useful!

Duke Vukadinovic
Duke Vukadinovic

August 18, 2016

Hey Michael,

I really like how you pointed out that one of the most effective things we can do to get ready for back to school is to create curated collections for products that are likely to be in demand :)

Great post as usual!

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