Summer is here and another school year is behind us. As students nationwide kick-off a summer spent with days of endless relaxation and soaking up the sun, retailers and brands are beginning to heat up in preparation for another busy peak season that young scholars don’t want to even think about yet – back-to-school shopping.

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According to a recent eMarketer report, 2017 is shaping up to be the biggest back-to-school season yet. For this year, the experts at eMarketer are projecting that U.S. back-to-school retail sales will reach an estimated $857 billion – representing roughly 17 percent of the total retail sales for the year. While total sales are projected to climb 4 percent during the back-to-school season, e-commerce is expected to shoot up nearly 15 percent to $74 billion. This is a result of all the younger shoppers coming of age who prefer to shop online. With such colossal numbers expected, it’s certainly not a secret that back-to-school represents one of the most important seasons of the year for brands and retailers – and now is the time to prepare.

As the crucial months leading up to the first day of school get busier for retailers, brands must put themselves in the best position to handle the increased traffic and workload.

Back-to-School: Have you made any major improvements to your site yet based on lessons learned from last holiday season?

They need to be considering every step of the e-commerce lifecycle and ask important questions – if they haven’t yet – to ensure that they’re ready for the back-to-school rush. For example:

  • Site Readiness – this is a good time to make sure your site is tuned for peak ready performance and is a good test run to prepare for the holiday season. Have you made any major improvements to your site yet based on lessons learned from last holiday season? If so, it’s time to ensure they’re ready for the spike in shoppers.
  • Delivery – with major carriers already announcing price hikes for the peak holiday season, have you looked into diversifying shipments? Working with multiple carriers spreads the risk that any potential hiccup in one company’s network could have on your business. And it could also save significant operating costs if you’re fitting the bill for free or discounted shipping.
  • Returns – customers are expecting a consistent experience in every interaction they have with a brand, and as a result, retailers are starting to turn their attention towards improving returns. Have you re-evaluated returns lately to see where you might be able to improve the experience to delight customers?

These are all important components to ensuring a consistent experience that delights shoppers at every turn. And they’re all things that Newgistics has decades of experience helping retailers manage. To learn more about how Newgistics can help retailers during peak seasons, visit www.newgistics.com.