In our last post, we talked about the Back to School selling timeline that we use for preparing for the Back To School selling season on Amazon.
In today’s post, we’re going to give you some tips on spotting trends so you’ll have some ideas on the types of products to add to your inventory this Back To School season.
Similar to Q4, you’re going to spend some time researching and getting to know your stores’ layouts and the popular product lines. While you might have been searching clearance items earlier in the year in search of good deals, during this time you’re looking for what’s hot, regardless of whether it’s on sale or on clearance.
This is a different mindset for many sellers. But if you’ve been through Q4, you’ll understand the buyer’s mentality. They’re often looking for convenience and they’re also under pressure to find the popular product.
If you have school-aged children, you’ve got a head start! Pay attention to the characters they discuss, the shows they talk about the most, the toys they’re begging for. Instead of tuning out, start paying attention to commercials to see what’s being promoted to them. Inevitably, these are the products and characters that kids across the country will be asking for on their backpacks, lunch boxes and notebooks.
Even if you don’t have kids (or if they’re older), there are plenty of ways to conduct research. Check out the toy section at places like Target, Walmart, and other Big Box stores and take note of which characters get the big displays and are featured on end caps. Flip through store circulars to check out their Back to School ads.
Summer is also a time for blockbuster movies, so have some familiarity of what’s being released. For example, some of this year’s big summer releases include Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, Angry Birds, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men. The latest Captain America movie came out not too long ago. A revamped Ghostbusters is also coming out soon
Theaters are also starting to preview their big Christmas movies, which includes the latest Star Wars installment. You can bet that all of these will be featured on Back to School products!
In addition to trendy products, princesses, animals and superheroes are also popular year after year.
I also like to do as much research at home as possible, and this season is no exception. There are a lot of options for online research so you can get comfortable with trends before walking into a store and getting overwhelmed by the displays.
Check out Amazon’s Movers and Shakers page to learn about the top-selling toys. This will help you learn brand names, characters, TV shows and movies. You might also glance at Movers and Shakers in Video Games, Movies & TV, and Books for ideas, though those will be more hit-and-miss than Toys.
Another idea: pay attention to what’s out of stock on websites like Disney.com, Target, or Walmart. A hot product might be out of stock online and available in stores only, so you can make a list of what to look for in your local store. Or, if it’s early enough in the season, you can set an in-stock alert to receive an email notification when that product becomes available.
Finally, don’t discount social media! Chances are, your Facebook friends are posting summer photos of their children, who are wearing these same popular characters on their swimsuits or going to the summer movies. Or they’re vacationing at Disney World and taking photos of their kids posing with various characters.
You can search Pinterest for Back to School supplies and see what’s being pinned the most and discussed the most. Check Twitter for trending stories and Instagram for photos. You might go so far as to learn who tweens are following on Twitter and Instagram, and follow them yourself. This is one way to “spy” and learn what they’re talking about and what’s popular in that age group.
You can also search the Billboard charts, iTunes or Spotify for top artists and bands, which will appeal to tweens and up. And you can search in the Home and Bedding aisles to learn about popular colors and patterns for these groups.
What other ideas do you have for spotting trends, and what are you noticing this year?
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