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Class is in session: Back to school supply chain excellence

Class is in session: Back to school supply chain excellence

The school bells are ringing again, and grade school and college students are getting ready for the beginning of a brand new school year.

For the next few weeks, we will see advertisements for the newest clothes and backpacks at every turn. Some states get to shop tax-free for a weekend to save on the big haul of new school supplies. And of course, our favorite stores will get an extra helping of that school bus yellow that we all know and love.

While parents and students get ready for the school year in August, this supply chain has been hard at work since the spring. What does take to get a boosted amount of inventory to each store for one month each year? The back to school supplies supply chain might be more familiar than you thought.

Loose-leaf paper on a tight schedule

There are a few industries that bank on massive amounts of product being sold in a small amount of time. Most notably, the candy and gift industries have stores stocked to the ceiling during the holiday months. School supplies, from pencils to clothing, is no different.

Back to school supplies shopping is the second-busiest shopping season after the holidays.

Department stores who carry school supplies typically carry them year-round but have to adjust their incoming shipments in late summer to account for millions of families to stock up for potentially an entire year of school supplies.

Shoppers spend most of their money on clothing, electronics, and shoes. Surprisingly, the least expensive thing on the list is the school supplies themselves.

Using EDI for .edu

Some shippers use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to connect to their supply chain. Shipwell has EDI integrations so shippers can keep their same system while adding the game-changing power of Shipwell.

EDI Alliance wrote an article about how the use of EDI is a big part of the supply chain process. The back to school supply chain process involves a tightly connected network of buyers, suppliers, EDI providers, teachers, and 29 million households.

According to the National Retail Foundation, back to school spending for 2019 will top $80 billion.

Online shopping vs. in-store shopping

In 2018, 89% of retailers said they believe there is more competition for the attention of back-to-school shoppers than ever before.

Some school shoppers are choosing to fill a virtual basket online instead of adding to the mob at Target and Walmart. Because of this, online retailers are offering expedited shipping, same-day delivery, and free shipping to customers. Most retailers are willing to eat the money on shipping because of the huge spike in sales during this short time.

For shippers, 3PLs, and carriers, this means orders and shipments have to be automated and seamlessly handled to ensure prompt delivery.

Extra credit goes a long way

Shipwell is the tech that companies must have during this critical time of shipping time-sensitive products.

From managing carrier flow into the distribution center to tracking trucks en route to stores across the country, Shipwell has everything these businesses need to succeed each school year.

Are you a part of the booming back to school supply chain? Try using Shipwell and see what it’s like to put your entire supply chain into a single pane of glass.