While many schools just went on summer break, students and their parents will soon be shifting away from the beach section of stores and toward aisles for school supplies and dorm essentials during the back-to-school shopping season.
In an effort to capture sales during this time, inkjet vendors will continue a well-worn BTS strategy that includes launching burst SKUs, increasing promotional activity, and installing marketing materials. In addition, retailers should be expected to offer seasonal incentives and promotions during this time to capture sales from customers, particularly those shopping online.
While placements for inkjets typically remain stable through the BTS shopping season, vendors such as HP have been known to introduce burst SKUs that are usually based on existing models, but sold at significant discounts. These products are often identified by their atypical nomenclature and product specifications that are nearly identical to already-available models. Inkjet burst SKUs often sell on floor stacks or end caps, and are rarely spotted on a retailer's physical shelves. These SKUs typically clear from a chain once inventory is depleted.
However, very few inkjet burst SKUs are introduced each year and most vendors seem to favor advertisements and in-store displays. In 2014, in-store only promotional activity for inkjets decreased, while hard copy advertisements showed growth during the period. This activity suggests that inkjet manufacturers are finding a better return on their marketing funds through hard copy ads rather than in-store promotions. This year, inkjet manufacturers may introduce more inkjet ads than in 2014, offering deep discounts on targeted SKUs in an effort to clear excess inventory of older-generation models.
In addition to keeping note of special BTS buys and advertisements, customers will be on the lookout for retailer promotions, particularly centered on price-match guarantees and accumulating loyalty rewards points. In 2014, office supply store chains offered price matching programs to capture sales from competing merchants, namely Amazon.com. Staples in particular went a step further and introduced its 110% price-match guarantee, matching competing prices from eligible merchants and offering an additional 10% off that price.
Similar to last year, price matching will continue to be a ubiquitous strategy among retailers. Notable changes this year may include a growing amount of advertising activity from inkjet vendors, as they work to generate sales in a market with smart shoppers looking for competitive prices. As competition increases and consumer purchasing habits change, retailers will continue to offer price matching programs and could also offer new promotions this year to entice customers to shop in-store, rather than from competing brick-and-mortar and online merchants.