Back to school shopping in 2020 is going to be unlike any shopping season we’ve ever seen before.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt. Families are adjusting their spending habits, teachers are adjusting lesson plans, and kids aren’t entirely sure when they will be returning to the classroom. In other words, 2020 will be an omnichannel school year in the truest sense of the word, with the possibility of learning being done online as well as in-person.

As teachers are working diligently to create new guidelines for in-school learning, retailers are educating themselves on what supplies students and families will need when they head back to school this Fall.

Rakuten Advertising has your study guide to help your brand ace the school year, both online and offline, whether education resumes in-person or virtual. We surveyed 779 back to school shoppers to understand how they are feeling about the upcoming school year, what they are buying, and where they’re going to buy those products.

We found that:

  • 78% of parents have experienced some sort of financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than 50% of grade school and high school shoppers are unclear as to how classes are going to be conducted this year.
  • Roughly 85% of grade school and high school shoppers will be doing all or most of their school supply shopping online.

With this in mind, here are some tips on what you can do to stand out with back to school shoppers:

  • Expand your definition of what students will need this year: Shopping lists in 2020 are likely going to include unconventional items like hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies in addition to more traditional items like backpacks and notebooks. Retailers should be positioning those products front and center to appeal to more shoppers now.
  • Make home learning easier: While some states have said that classrooms are going to be open, others are still determining the best course of action for students. Promote products that facilitate home learning and allow parents to create a comfortable environment for their child.
  • Get personal: In stressful times, people tend to turn to familiar retailers and brands as a matter of convenience. Analyze your customer lists and if you’re able to identify a customer as a potential back to school shopper, serve them a targeted offer for products that are likely to be at the top of their shopping list.

Download the Rakuten Advertising Back to School Report today to learn more.