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How Dropshippers Can Leverage the Back-to-School Shopping Season [2018]

Updated on July 24, 2018

10 Min Read
Back to School shopping
Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Back to School shopping season is back with a bang and it’s time for you to make good money with the Dropshipping business model. Back to School shoppers spend a lot of money to re-stock themselves with new clothing, gadgets, accessories, etc. every year. Before we highlight the latest Back to School trends for 2018, learn how to set up your own dropshipping store.


Back to School Shopping 2018

According to Deloitte, the Back to school shopping season is expected to hit a total revenue of $27.6 billion from the United States in 2018. Nearly 29 million households will be participating in the Back to School season this year.

Back to School shoppers are planning to spend up to $510 (per household) on an average this year, slightly more than the average spend of $501 in 2017.

With the average spend being higher this year, dropshippers can analyze their target audience and consider profitable regions to sell their products. Following is an estimated breakdown of American regions that dropshippers should target and sell.
Estimated American Customer Market
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1. The North East Region

The North East region is expected to spend the most. It leads the chart with an average spending of $568 per household, and represents 21% of the customer market share this season.

2. The West Region

The West of the USA is expected to have the second highest average spend this season. With nearly 24% of the customer market share, their average household spend in 2018 is estimated to be $513.

3. The Mid-West Region

The Mid-West region is estimated to spend an average of $493 per household while representing 21% of the customer market share this season.

4. The South Region

Although the South region is estimated to have the lowest average spend, it will give you room for a larger market. With an estimated 34% of the customer market share, the South region has a total average spend of $488 per household.

Pro Tip: It would be wise to mainly target the North East region and the South region, simply because the former offers highest average household spend and the latter offers the largest customer market.

To capitalize on this shopping extravaganza, dropshippers need to take a closer look at what the Back to School shoppers are planning to buy. Are you able to think beyond selling pencils and notebooks this Back to School season? If yes, then worry no more, there are 4 major categories that covers the total market revenue this season.

Back to School Trending Product Categories

1. Clothing and Accessories

Clothing and accessories lead the chart with both, demand and the average spend. The Back to School shoppers are more likely to spend about $15.1 billion in 2018 on clothing and accessories only, with an average spend of $286 per household. Clothing and accessories enjoy being the largest B2S customer market share with 55%. Your product mix should comprise clothing and accessories for all age groups.

2. School Supplies

With a high demand but the lowest average spend of $112, school supplies hold the 2nd largest B2S customer market share of 22%. The Back to School shoppers are likely to spend around $6.0 billion on school supplies this season.

Your product mix should comprise spiral notebooks, composition books, lined papers, three-ring binders, sticky notes, folders, staplers and staples.

Furthermore, when it comes to stationary, students opt for ballpoint pens, felt-tip pens, highlighters, wooden pencils, mechanical pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, correction tape, and whiteouts.

Many creative back to school shoppers also go for colored pencils, crayons, markers, safety scissors, glue sticks, paste, scotch tape, construction paper, rulers, and Protractors.

3. Hardware

With a comparatively lower demand, Back to School shoppers are expected to purchase computers and hardware online with an average spend of $299 per household. This 13% of the B2S customer market share will spend nearly $3.7 billion this season.

Your product mix should comprise carrying equipment such as knapsacks, messenger bags, laptop cases, gym bags, lunch boxes, insulated lunch bags, brown paper lunch bags and plastic sandwich bags. Furthermore, shoes, DVDs, sporting goods, toys and games etc. also performs well in this category.

4. Electronic Gadgets

The Back to School shoppers do not buy a lot of electronic gadgets online. With an 8% customer market share, their estimated average spend will be $271 accruing nearly $2.8 billion this Back to School shopping season. Living in such a tech savvy era, it is highly unlikely that students will not purchase scientific calculators, voice recorders, laptops, tablets, portable music / video players, earphones and headphones.

Pro Tip: Many Back to School shoppers prefer buying clothing & accessories in-store rather than online. You can always include them in your product mix, however, it would be wiser to  target school supplies and hardware more effectively than clothing & accessories.

Timing Is Important

The Back to School shopping activities reach its peak by early August. Approximately, 90% of the Back to School shoppers are expected to be most active during late July and early August. This is the time that accounts for two-thirds of the entire B2S spend.
Back to School shopping Timing
As you can see, early August is the most happening period of the B2S season. Parents spend almost $9.9 billion alone in the USA on school shopping. Here is a bi-monthly breakdown.

Best Time of Back to School Season Active Back to School Shoppers Back to School Spending
Earlier than July 10% $1.3 billion
Early in July 26% $3.6 billion
Later in July 54% $8.1 billion
Early in August 67% $9.9 billion
Later in August 34% $3.9 billion
September 8% $0.8 billion


Pro Tip:The best time to generate sales this season would be Late July and Early August. These 20 days will allow you to grab a handsome chunk of sales from an $18 billion market.

Customer Demographics

When it comes to customer demographics, it would be wise to target students of all ages. You can easily find Back to School shoppers looking to purchase for their children whether they are studying in preschool or are grad students.

To formulate your strategic product mix, consider all of the following student demographics:

  • Preschool
  • Elementary school
  • Junior high school
  • High school
  • College undergraduates
  • Graduate students

Furthermore, also consider students from the following schools:

  • Culinary schools
  • Technical schools
  • Religious schools
  • Boarding schools
  • Performing arts students (musicians, theater students, artists, etc.)

Pro Tip:Every student demographic will comprise a different set of products. Brainstorm the products in-demand for such students. The more diverse your product mix is, the higher your sales will be. Many times students purchase things that were not their priority, but they found it to be useful for them at school.

Dropshipping Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate can be defined as the percentage of visitors that visit your website and complete any desired action. To accurately define conversions, you need to know your end goal  that aligns with your business objectives.

The conversion rate of any dropshipping business is technically the percentage of website visitors who purchased something from your online store (in a set period of time).

However, this metric is not the only method to measure the success of your online store. Following are the typical conversion metrics that an ecommerce store should keep in mind:

  1. An online sale.
  2. A user adding a product to their cart
  3. A user adding an item to their wishlist.
  4. Email signups.
  5. Social media shares.
  6. Any other KPI your company finds valuable.

Measuring conversion is not an easy task, simply because it can be impacted by any aspect from the user’s experience on your website. In simpler terms, the process of improving the buyer’s journey to drive specific KPIs, such as sales, is known as Conversion Rate Optimization.

Learn How to Set up a WooCommerce Dropshipping Store Using Dropified Plugin

Tools to Improve Ecommerce Conversion Rates

There are some very useful tools to help analyze your current conversion rate issues. The following five are my personal favorite conversion analysis tools:

  1. Inspectlet.
  2. Mixpanel.
  3. CrazyEgg.
  4. Omniconvert
  5. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

There are a few other great tools out there, but these should be more than enough to get details of visitor interaction and to figure out where your website is lacking or excelling in regards to conversion rates.

20 Pro Tips to Improve CRO of Your Online Store

  1. Convince customers that your online store is not a scam.
  2. Offer valuable content with detailed product descriptions. Also, always upload high-quality images of your products.
  3. Free shipping is a great attraction.
  4. Adjust product prices to your benefit and offer coupon codes if possible.
  5. Test your checkout process. Your checkout form should be comprehensive. Allow customers to checkout as guests. Also, use a cart abandonment software for your website.
  6. Integrate Live-Chat on your website.
  7. Structure your online store appropriately so that visitors can easily find products.
  8. It would be wiser to always show products already in the shopping cart.
  9. Request customers to review your products.
  10. Your “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons should be prevalent.
  11. Consider your product return policy thoroughly.
  12. Optimize your online store for mobile devices.
  13. Provide a contact number.
  14. Try to convert customers before they leave.
  15. Grab the attention of visitors as quickly as possible.
  16. Use “Call to Actions” sparingly.
  17. Conduct small incremental changes over time.
  18. Think outside the box. Dare to be different!
  19. Check for grammar or spelling mistakes. It is a major turn off.
  20. Analyze and measure your conversion rate optimization success.

Read How You Can Boost Your Conversion Rate & Grow Your Business

Additional Metrics to Measure Ecommerce Conversions

When discussing conversion, there are a few other metrics that can help measure how well  your online store is converting customers. These metrics are indicatives of engaged or disengaged customers on your website. With the assistance of the following metrics, you can improve your overall conversion rate.

  • Bounce Rate: A high bounce rate is certainly not a good indication. For some reason, when people are not able to find what they were looking for on your landing page, they leave your website.
  • Exit Rate: It is often confused with the bounce rate. Your exit rate allows you to identify the last page that any customer views before moving on. A very high exit rate on any particular page is technically a red flag. This metric indicates that your landing page requires thorough optimization.
  • Click through rate: AdWords optimization and email marketing campaigns often focus on getting more users to click through to your website and then take an action or at times, even simply engaging on social media.

These metrics can be found in your Google Analytics account under “Behavior > Overview”

  • Average Session Duration is an engagement metric that provides a general idea of how long customers are active on your website. A high bounce rate results in a low average time on your website. Visitors aren’t staying long enough to do whatever it is that you want them to do, i.e. convert.
  • Average Page Depth also known as Pages per Session in Google Analytics, is an engagement metric that identifies how many pages any potential customer visited before leaving your website. In simpler terms, this metric is total page views per session. Furthermore, the more the page views are the more is the engagement. However, it can also mean a lack of clarity in your conversion funnel if there are no conversions from your online store.

Wrapping Up With Expert’s Opinions

1. Think like the Customer

Katie Melissa is an ecommerce expert who says you need to train yourself and think like your customers. It doesn’t matter what you like, what matters is whether your customer will like your products or not. She suggests you build your product mix around what is already selling. Melissa recommends Hurrify, a Shopify plugin that creates a sense of urgency.

2. Intertwine Your Email and Social Media

Frank Hatchett owns Online Dimes, an incredible resource for entrepreneurs who wish to understand key ecommerce growth strategies. He advises on cross-targeting your customers through Facebook and Email. When you can intertwine both email and social media, you will see higher conversion rates. He recommends Connectio, which allows you to automate and optimize your Facebook advertising with ease.

3. Learn Through Doing

Richard Lazazzera runs A Better Lemonade Stand, a popular resource for ecommerce entrepreneurs. He focuses on learning through doing. His motto: Failure creates the opportunity to learn, and every failure is a step forward. Richard recommended using Sourcify, a platform that makes manufacturing easy.

4. Send Emails to Convert Customers

Susan Bradley learned scalability through her store, Wee Squeak. She also runs The Social Sales Girls, a program that teaches ecommerce. Bradley advocates utilizing the power of email to convert customers. She recommends using Infusionsoft, a key automation tool for small businesses looking to grow.

5. Maxime Your Funnel Approaches

Terry Arsenault runs a few ecommerce stores while leading a digital marketing agency, Shopidd. Dan Dasilva is an ecommerce entrepreneur who runs Ecom Dudes, one of the best ecommerce resource available online.
Arsenault and Dasilva both say it’s important for ecommerce entrepreneurs to take a funnel approach, meaning you need to know who your customer avatar is, map out your funnel, and move up your value ladder towards making a sale.

6. Create a Backend System That Grows with You

John Hutchison runs Ecom Convert. His expertise lies in funnel creation and conversion optimization. Hutchison recommends entrepreneurs find a backend system that can grow with them while focusing on conversions. Once you’ve got a customer, figure out how you can make more money from that customer.

Hutchison suggests using Klavyio, an email marketing platform.

7. Mapping out Buyer’s Journey

Catherine Howell runs one of the top funnel creation agencies, Eight Loop Social. Howell says you should map out a customer’s journey from the first time they see your product to the email they get after they complete a purchase. Knowing the touchpoints of your brand are essential to success.

8. Sell Uniquely

Ashley Wright is an ecommerce entrepreneur who says you should explore the angle you use to sell your products. Try to sell in a unique way by finding a unique audience for that product. This can enable you to lower advertisement costs on Facebook. He recommends trying Wicked Reports, a marketing intelligence platform.

9. Find the Winning Product/Niche

Dave Hermansen is one of the founders of Store Coach, a program that helps people start their own online stores. The advice that Store Coach gives many of its students revolves around finding a winning niche. This means you need to find a product and market fit that converts well. They also emphasize the sale of higher ticket items, as it’s harder to make volume sales. If you sell a few higher ticket items a month, you don’t always need to sell as much.
Hermansen recommends using SEMrush, a tool for understanding the SEO landscape of your keywords.

10. Always Remain Updated

Sebastian Gomez is one of the world’s leading ecommerce experts who focuses on dropshipping. His main tip? Always stay up to date. You can’t just set an advertisement and not optimize it. Sebastian checks his ads throughout the day and optimizes ones that aren’t performing well. This enables him to scale quickly. He recommended using TrustMSG, a tool that messages people that comment on your Facebook advertisements.

Note: All these opinions were gathered from an article published at

To Sum Up

The fundamental concept when talking to the aforementioned experts stemmed from focus. They found what worked for them and then they spent most of their time optimizing it.

With so many possibilities of products to sell and apps to use, you should find out what works for your business, and what doesn’t. By measuring conversions, mapping out your funnel and using the correct tools, there is no stopping  you from becoming a successful ecommerce entrepreneur!

This Dropshipper Made $12,650 in a Single Day! Find Out How

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Sajjad Shahid

Sajjad is an Ecommerce Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves helping out Ecommerce store owners, merchants and marketers in establishing their businesses and startups. Sajjad enjoys playing table tennis and cricket over the weekend.

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