How Retailers Can Drive Performance During The Back To School Shopping Season

Back to school shopping has gone from a routine wardrobe refresh to a chaotic roller coaster ride over the past several years, and with economic headwinds raging on, brands and shoppers alike would do well to prepare for the coming weeks.

2022 has been a trying experience for those in the retail apparel industry. Just as pandemic-level restrictions began to ease and products finally started hitting the shelves, shoppers and brands alike were subsequentially met with historically-high inflation causing massive swings in category demand. Now, brand priorities have shifted, and industry leaders are exploring every avenue available to drive increased sales, improve profitability and reduce costs, especially with back to school shopping and the holiday season right around the corner.  

The importance of effective preparation during the days leading up to these critical, peak shopping periods cannot be overstated. Issues such as poor inventory management or an underdeveloped sizing strategy will likely spell disaster, and brands looking to maximize peak season performance will need to address these possibilities in advance. Has your brand begun strategizing yet? If not, here's why you should be.   

What Makes This Year's Back to School Shopping Season Different?

Two women engaging in back to school shopping

The shift in shopper demand from products to services and non-discretionary goods (such as gas and groceries) is likely to persist throughout the rest of 2022, making the upcoming peak shopping months more important than ever before. Like the peak holiday season occurring during the winter months, the back to school shopping season will be one of the few chances brands have to capitalize on a near-guaranteed rise in shopper demand. Apparel is always on the back to school shopping list, after all. 

Unlike previous years, many apparel brands are now suffering from significant inventory glut, which will have a noticeable impact on pricing and promotions. At this point, some brands are so desperate to offload inventory that they are even paying shoppers to keep items rather than return them. It seems surreal, we know. Nevertheless, with brands looking to ditch last season's inventory and shoppers feeling the inflationary pinch, expect to see some potentially dynamic pricing strategies in the coming days.

Another factor for brands to consider is the fatigue currently surrounding the eCommerce market, primarily driven by pandemic-level shutdowns. As brick-and-mortar stores reopen and social distancing becomes a whisper in the wind, shoppers who have yearned to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles now view in-store shopping as less of a burden and more of an experience. Fortunately for direct-to-consumer brands (or those with a robust online presence), recent and dramatic rises in fuel prices have deterred many from venturing outside of their homes for their shopping needs.

The aforementioned factors have laid the foundation for a back to school shopping season, unlike anything the apparel retail space has seen before. The push and pull effects driven by current economic forces will make it difficult for brands to navigate the upcoming season alone. This is where modern eCommerce solutions like WAIR come into play.   

How Brands Can Optimize Peak Season Performance With WAIR

WAIR's product insights dashboard

As we saw from last year's peak shopping season, brands that prioritized sizing strategy saw significant boosts in conversion rates and average order value without a corresponding increase in return rates. This was heavily influenced by solutions like WAIR, which transcend the traditional size chart by providing data-backed and personalized size recommendations at scale.

Brands like Rhone, CUTS Clothing, Mac Duggal, and 7Diamonds saw an average 12% increase in AOV and a 35% increase in conversion rates from shoppers who used WAIR versus those who did not. This noticeable increase in peak season performance can be linked to the effect personalized size recommendations have on the shopper's journey. 

When shoppers are confident they will receive their best-fitting size the first time, their apprehension around converting evaporates, and their likelihood of purchasing more clothing increases. There's tangible data that supports this claim, as a recent study by Fit3D found that over 70% of shoppers would buy more clothing if they didn't have to worry about sizing during their journey. With modern sizing solutions, the likelihood of shoppers receiving the wrong-fitting size effectively diminishes, empowering brands to capitalize on shopper demand without a subsequent rise in returns.  

Point-of-sale sizing solutions are an excellent addition to any eCommerce apparel website, but size recommendations are only the beginning of WAIR's value add. As shoppers use our solution to order their best-fitting products, their body and journey data is seamlessly captured in the background. This data is relayed into powerful dashboards, which reveal optimization opportunities in inventory management, product design, customer service, and more. 

The icing on the cake? WAIR's integration process is exceedingly simple, requiring little to no time on the brand's end. Our team of specialists will have brands onboarded in days, not weeks, enabling them to begin capturing the valuable shopper insights needed to shape their eCommerce strategy around the bodies of their shoppers.      

The Best Time to Optimize Your Sizing Strategy Was Yesterday

We know that we may sound like a broken record, but the importance of optimizing one's eCommerce strategy before the peak shopping season cannot be overstated. These crucial weeks will largely influence one's success in 2022, and brands must leverage these final days we have left before the chaos truly ensues. Don't end this peak season wondering what could have been; unlock your brand's true potential with WAIR! 

Are you ready to unlock your brand's full potential with WAIR? Schedule a demo here, and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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