Is your product back-to-school worthy?

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As we enter the last days of summer, many consumers are beginning to think about what’s coming next: school.

The back-to-school (BTS) shopping season generally begins in July and ends in September. Historically, August has been the most popular month to buy learning essentials. Parents want to be able to obtain all the school essentials their children will need for the next nine months quickly and efficiently, and preferably from the same store or shopping center.

“This year, more consumers are planning on doing their BTS shopping in July.”

Boxing up back-to-school goods

With almost half of survey respondents saying they planned on buying electronics for the school year, it’s critical to protect these products in transit. Shoppers estimate they will spend an average of $280 on electronics alone. According to eBay, the top five most popular high school electronics are:

  • Graphing calculators
  • Laptops
  • Voice recorders
  • Tablets
  • USB drives
Sharp items calls for careful packaging choices.The right void fill will keep sharp items safe during transport.

Since these items are expensive purchases, it is even more critical that they be correctly protected and that they are received by retailers in perfect condition. Examples of protective packaging types that are used by consumer electronics manufacturers include Microfoam® polypropylene sheets which can protect tablet screens from getting scratched during transport. Anti-static Hybrid cushioning material is another protective packaging alternative which can be used to wrap and cushion electronics.

College student moving challenges

Sending a student off to college is a big rite of passage in most families. The emotional aspect is balanced by the real challenge of how to properly pack up the student’s possessions for their trip across the city, state … or even country.

One way that Pregis has addressed that is by making its bubble cushioning and other moving supplies available via kits sold by retailers like Lowe’s. A quick visit to the store and you can purchase the “moving kit” that’s right for your needs.

Not only do the student’s current possessions need to be considered, but so do items that are going to be shipped directly to the school dorm. The latter is a perfect opportunity for suppliers to consider inserting cross-promotional items along with whatever the student ordered. Backpacks, for example, can contain a sample of laundry detergent or shampoo. However, critical to the success of the promotion is that both items arrive without damage or without a liquid leaking onto a durable good. The right protective packaging choice can go a long way in preventing a negative outcome.

Basic school supplies also need protection

Luckily, most BTS items are not delicate. Backpacks, folders, lunch bags and rulers are sturdy and not likely to break during transport. A paper void fill could be one solution to prevent items from slipping and sliding around during the journey from warehouse to shelf.

Other items aren’t exactly breakable, but care should be taken to ensure they arrive at the store looking ready for school. For instance, notebooks won’t shatter, but the metal spiral could bend when put under pressure. Surfaces can get scuffed and corners can tear. Paper void fill or air pillow packaging are both great solutions for blocking and bracing during transport.

Online researching/shopping

BTS shopping is generally considered the second-biggest shopping season, following only the holiday shopping season in November and December. Like holiday shopping, trends are showing that shoppers are beginning earlier and changing their strategies.

Unlike holiday shopping when a large percentage of shoppers choose to do more online, 93 percent of BTS shoppers intend on making most of their purchases in stores. More than 80 percent of shoppers who choose this method will also buy additional items when they arrive at the store to retrieve their merchandise.

Shoppers prefer making purchases in-store so they can physically see and touch merchandise before paying for it and the convenience of getting all of their needs in one place, as well as avoiding shipping prices. However, some will order school supplies online to be delivered to their door. For these shoppers, it’s important that everything be packaged properly, from valuable graphing calculators to inexpensive pencils. Broken supplies will reflect poorly on the company, and will only increase a parents’ BTS concerns.

For advice on how to best approach the BTS shopping season, talk to the experts at Pregis. They will be able to review your current operations and make helpful suggestions that to improve protective and efficiency of your packaging choices.