News Feature | July 23, 2015

For Back-to-School, It's All About Omni-Channel

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Education IT News For VARs — December 26, 2014

School may not be in session just yet, but many consumers are already preparing to stock up for the upcoming school year. In the pursuit of parents' dollars, omni-channel retailing is proving a hot strategy this school year as JCPenney and WallFlower Jeans launch their respective omni-channel experiences to connect to consumers, and back-to-school shoppers share their plans for retail in a new National Retail Federation survey.

JCPenney will launch their back-to-school campaign with ads in Seventeen magazine and streaming video, among other channels, with all of their marketing elements located at an online hub at The hub will also include an interactive mix-and-match game that allows teen shoppers to piece together their favorite outfits from different pieces of clothing – echoing the sentiments of their “Bend the Trend” campaign focus. From there, young shoppers can “share it, buy it, and rock it.” The retailer will also offer digital compliment cards as part of their “National Shoutout Day” on August 12. Teens can send these cards to friends when friends post pictures of themselves in back-to-school clothing. The cards will share from JCPenney's Tumblr to other social media outlets. Finally, to reach teens with video, JCPenney will sponsor an online video series on the YouTube channel AwesomenessTV with teen influencers modeling their favorite JCPenney looks.

Retailers aren't the only company using omni-channel for back-to-school. WallFlower Jeans, a lifestyle brand, recently announced their plans for Dream Fit, a new in-store digital experience for consumers. Dream Fit is a series of online videos starring YouTube's MyLifeasEva. While browsing for jeans, shoppers can scan the POS QR codes on WallFlower's styles, then view, wherein Eva shares how that denim style fits and the ways to add style to it. The codes will be affixed to the jeans' brand tags and will be available in stores that sell WallfFlower Jeans. Stores include Meijer, Fred Meyer, Shopko, and Kohl's.

“We are excited about this new in-store venture,” says Nathan C. Mamiye, President of WallFlower Jeans. “The integration of QR codes in stores is an innovative way to reach young consumers by generating engaging content that is a natural fit for the brand.”

In their annual Back-to-School Spending Survey, National Retail Federation recently asked for the first time if online shoppers plan to use retailers' omni-channel delivery options, such as ship-to-store and online reservations. 48.4 percent of respondents who will shop for back-to-school (K-12) say that they plan to Buy Online, Pickup in Stores (BOPIS), and for online reserve, 9.1 percent say they plan to use the feature. 17.3 percent say they plan to use expedited shipping, and 10.2. plan on use same-day delivery.

Perhaps the most interesting key point of the survey is the majority of respondents (43.8%) plan to shop for back-to-school the same week school begins, showing that retailers need to keep their omni-channel campaigns extended beyond the pre-school weeks. Another takeaway from the moves of JCPenney and WallFlower Jeans is retailers should pursue omni-channel methods in a bid to reach consumers, especially in the back-to-school season, and target not just teens but parents.