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Strategies For Driving Back To School Sales On Amazon In 2021

Next to Prime Day, the back to school season is one of the more highly anticipated selling seasons on Amazon. And 2021 is no exception. In fact, it may be even more so. With many regions in the US lifting pandemic restrictions, the need to drive back to school sales for many sellers has never been more necessary—or more challenging.

And that’s largely the result of Prime Day 2021, when more than 600,000 backpacks, 240,000 notebooks, 40,000 calculators, and 220,000 Crayola products were sold in a mere 48 hour period. But believe it or not, many sellers were still facing overstock issues.

It’s been estimated that K-12 families plan on spending an average of $848.90 per family in 2021, with total spending projected to be $37.1 billion. That doesn’t even count families with college students, for whom total spending will be nearly doubled. And if you’re not strategizing your marketing campaigns and your listings correctly, you may be missing out on a good share of those sales.

Timing is Everything

You may have heard that the best rule of thumb for any seasonal sale is to plan early. Typically that’s true. But even if you haven’t, the back to school season is a little different. Many families know that they can sometimes get the best deals at the very last moment. Typically the back to school season begins in July and ends on Labor Day weekend. But as a result of the pandemic, many schools don’t have a set date for opening. Even if you missed out on Prime Day this year, you can still take advantage of later openings by offering families the best deals on the most in demand items in 2021.

Research Your Product Lines

The right items will make all the difference in the world this year. In 2020, the back to school season was largely focused on at-home learning, with laptops, headphones and accessories being some of the top selling items. But as parents prepare for the return of in-school learning, there’s a strong chance 2021 will ultimately resemble 2019 trends. Backpacks, notebooks, clothing and traditional school supplies will likely be in much higher demand this year in addition to 2020’s trends. But cleaning supplies can also be added to your product lines with the pandemic still fresh in many parents’ minds. Take the time to think creatively, and review what some of the best selling items are in each category.

Optimize Your Product Listings

Keyword research strategies for the back to school season will frequently utilize the same keywords as Prime Day and that’s going to be no different in 2021. But be cognizant of just who you’re marketing to. Families with college students are going to have very different needs than those of K-12 families. Always ensure your product titles reflect the most accurate keywords while still being aware of top ranking terms. If you don’t have the time to develop an adequate strategy on your own, an outside agency or software tool can be a life-saver—particularly if you’re down to the last minute.

But keywords are only the first step in optimizing your product listing. Visuals are more important than ever in 2021, and selecting the right hero image makes all the difference in the world if you hope to stand out from your competitors. Remember that you can have up to nine product images in your listing, but make certain you’re using only high resolution pictures shot from various angles. You might think it’s absurd that a customer wants to see various shots of a pen and pencil set, but you’d be surprised at just how much scrutiny parents go through when back to school shopping!

Increase Your Advertising Budget

Remember that back to school season is just as much a holiday in the US as Christmas or Prime Day; so if you have the means to increase your budget, you’re going to find that now is the perfect time to do so. In fact, it’s been estimated that ad spending was up by over 93 percent during Prime Day 2021, resulting in 32.5 percent more impressions. But the back to school season is different from Prime Day because of its target audience.

A targeted campaign isn’t the same as a general ad campaign, even if you’re a non-seasonal seller. Different rules and different strategies apply. Tailoring your campaign by utilizing Sponsored Product ads with PPC services can result in high conversion rates and help drive seasonal sales. But they can also backfire if your product line doesn’t match the right audience. Fortunately, virtually everything from electronics to furniture and home decor can be considered relevant during back to school season.

Review Your Inventory Levels

Amazon has been estimated to command up to 85 percent of the back to school eCommerce market this year. And competition will be fierce. You may see an incredible spike in orders, even on the most seemingly unrelated items. By ensuring you have a healthy inventory and an even healthier strategy in place, you can help eliminate the stress and focus on what will really matter in 2022—growing your business.


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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