Belk, JCPenney and Macy's make BTS mobile

Retailers are rolling out back-to-school programs and while sales on notebooks and pens are traditional, stores are increasingly turning to more non-traditional, digital means to promote shopping events.

While most shoppers plan to spend more than they did last year on school supplies, 75 percent are expecting even more shopping trips to buy as much as they can on their back-to-school list before the first day of school, according to a new BTS survey from Meijer.

Low prices are important for BTS and retailers are starting to introduce mobile promotions. Meijer's survey results ranked sales, promotions and overall low prices as important. The retailer is dropping prices and offering Back-to-School Bucks available Aug. 14-15 through its mPerks digital savings program in addition to printed coupons.

Macy's (NYSE:M) is partnering with Seventeen magazine, inviting readers to vote on one of three t-shirt designs. The winning design will be produced and sold in Macy's stores. The sweepstakes directs shoppers to Macy's MStyle Labs microsite to vote and earn a chance to win a $500 shopping spree and a t-shirt. The mobile-friendly design and interactive nature is meant to appeal to millennial shoppers.

Belk department stores is running a similar promotion inviting users to vote on various styles and items on its mobile site, including back-to-college items such as dorm room decor and game-day outfits. Voters are encouraged to share their favorites and the retailer will release new sweepstakes and contests throughout the season, according to MobileCommerceDaily.

JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) has created a digital back-to-school microsite that includes a mix-and-match game that allows kids and teens to assemble different pieces to create their own style mash-ups. Users are also encouraged to share their styles using the campaign's theme and hashtag #BendTheTrend.

In an added twist that pairs mobile, social media and social causes, JCPenney is declaring Aug. 12 "National Shout-Out Day," encouraging kids and teens to post a shout-out of online compliments to friends, parents and neighbors using #ShoutOutDay. The retailer plans to offer digital compliment cards that teens can use to flatter their friends when they post pictures of themselves in their back-to-school gear. The e-cards can be shared from JCPenney's Tumblr page to other social media channels.

The retailer will also sponsor an online video series on AwesomenessTV as teen influencers wear JCPenney ensembles and promote National Shout-Out Day. Teen retail chain Claire's recently announced a similar partnership with AwesomenessTV to have YouTube stars promote stores and products for BTS.

For more:
-See this Meijer survey
-See this Macy's sweepstakes
-See this JCPenney press release
-See this MobileCommerceDaily story

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