From crayons and lunch boxes to laptops and dorm room decor, there’s no doubt that back-to-school season is one of the most important shopping periods for retailers both big and small.

The National Retail Federation reports that total spending on back-to-school shopping this year is expected to reach $75.8 billion, up more than 10% from last year’s $68 billion. And a good amount of that spending will be on mobile devices. A recent study from ad tech firm Rubicon Project found that 60% of parents plan to use mobile devices for back-to-school shopping this year, with 30% stating that they plan to do a quarter of their total shopping on mobile.

So what have retailers been doing to capture the attention of both parents and kids as they prep for the school year ahead? We examine what brands including Kohl’s, Office Depot, Kmart and Gap have done to capitalize on such a retail-friendly time of year:

Get Charitable

Today’s consumers want to know that the brands they support are using their influence to give back in some way. While back-to-school season is an exciting time for many students, it’s also a reminder that a lot of children lack the support and resources they need to do well in school – and this is where brands can step in to help out.

Knowing that parents love to take photos of their kids on the first day of school, Kohl’s is asking its fans to post a first-day-of-school pic with the hashtag #KohlsClassroomDonation on social media. For every post, Kohl’s is donating $5 to, an organization that provides classroom materials to needy schools. The retailer even partnered with actress Vanessa Hudgens to help promote the cause.

Remember, Kids Love Snapchat

Snapchat is a great way to grab the attention of students who are spending their last days of summer (and let’s be real, first days of school) on the app.

Earlier this summer, Office Depot joined Snapchat just in time for back-to-school season. According to the retailer, users who added OfficeDepotLive on Snapchat were greeted with school-related snaps “as well as brainteasers to help them get back into school mode after a long summer break.”

Office Depot’s Senior Manager of Social Programs Kate Porter told earlier this month that the brand was “pleasantly surprised” by the percentage of users who viewed the brand’s content and engaged with it.

office depot final

Use Social to Lure Consumers In-Store

As more and more shoppers prefer to do their shopping online, brick-and-mortar retailers continue to struggle when it comes to getting consumers in-store. While it may seem counterintuitive, retailers can use their social media channels to mobilize consumers by offering them deals that they can only find in-store.

Take Kmart, for example. On Instagram, the brand is offering free school supplies like crayons, colored pencils and emoji stickers each Saturday as part of its weekly in-store FREEBIE promotion. The retailer is also creating fun videos on Instagram to show off some of its best back-to-school products.

User-Generated Content is Your Friend

It’s a no-brainer that user-generated content is one of the best places for retailers to look for authentic (and free) images of people rocking your brand’s clothes, especially during a time like back-to-school season when parents are posting tons of photos anyway. Retailers can take advantage of this by keeping their eyes peeled on what fans are posting — or better yet, create a custom hashtag to keep track of posts.

Gap Kids is encouraging its fans to post back-to-school photos with the hashtag #gaptoschool. On its Instagram channel, the retailer is reposting some of the best user-generated photos, like the one below:

first day of first grade. share your special moments with #gaptoschool. photo by @gloestefany

A post shared by GapKids (@gapkids) on

Create Compelling Content

Returning to school for another year can evoke a lot of emotions as both students and parents say goodbye to summer and set their sights on a new year ahead. Brands can capitalize on this by creating videos, live-streams and other content that address some of the most pressing issues and questions that surround back-to-school season.

For example. Kleenex recently created a short film featuring students who are nervous about making the transition to middle school. In the video, kids discuss the anxiety they have around going to a different school, making new friends and finding their way around. Nearly everyone can relate to the awkwardness of middle school, and judging by the film’s millions of views and thousands of shares on Facebook, Kleenex’s video is definitely resonating with its fans.