Are you ready to kick your back-to-school promotions into high gear? If not, now’s the time. Because many of the biggest online marketplaces are already full-speed ahead on their back to school programs.

This spending season is shaping up to be one of the year’s largest, most profitable opportunities for e-commerce sellers — second only to the winter holidays. With the growth rate of new students entering school increasing by another 3% to 5% each year, that revenue potential is bound to get even bigger.

Here at Rithum, our e-commerce experts have been tracking back-to-school promotions and performance for years. And they’ve noticed several common characteristics of the most successful campaigns, such as the following ones discussed during our recent webinar.

1. They start early

An estimated 60% of back-to-school shoppers will begin making purchases before the end of July. And the sooner they begin, the more they’ll buy. Early starters have been known to spend 16% more than parents who wait until August.

The sooner you have your plans in place, the more you stand to profit.

2. They offer fast, free shipping

Did you know that 68% of shoppers who are uncertain about where to buy this back-to-school season plan to look for sellers who offer free shipping before placing an order? Or that 54% consider “fast” to mean two days or less? Getting deliveries on doorsteps quickly and affordably will remain critical throughout the back-to-school sales season.

3. They differentiate between back-to-school and back-to-college

With more say over parents’ purse strings, and with more of their own money to spend, college students offer a unique chance for retailers to fan the flames of lasting loyalty. As they prepare to return to campus, back-to-college shoppers have been shown to outpace back-to-school spenders twofold. Plus, they have a tendency to continue shopping long after the first school bell rings.

Taking the time to target this segment with specialty product bundles, promotions and advertising can result in big rewards.

4. They cross channels

Today’s consumers are accustomed to visiting a wide array of marketplaces when considering and comparing products. By late June, for example, Amazon had already restructured its back-to-school page with grade-level categories and specialty sections such as “parent and teacher picks” and everyday essentials.” From Walmart and eBay to JCPenney and Sears, it pays to have a strong presence on numerous marketplaces.

These are just a few of the many suggestions shared during our interactive webinar: The Essential E-Commerce Seller’s Guide to Back-to-School Selling. For more ideas and inspiration, we highly recommend listening to the full on-demand recording. With 29 million households getting ready to spend an average of $500 per child, now’s the time to start selling!