The back to school shopping season is one of the busiest of the year—
second only to the winter holiday period. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), demand is up in 2014 with combined spending for back to school and college anticipated to hit $74.9 billion. Indeed, the NRF has been tracking a range of back to school retail data. A highlight of their 2014 survey worth noting is that over 25 percent of back to school shoppers and over 33 percent of back to college shoppers will be shopping online this year, which represents significant growth in this category.
This increase in back to school shopping online means consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets more and more to research items, review retailer information, compare prices, and claim coupons. A notable study published by content discovery platform Outbrain adds nuance here by sorting the timing habits of shoppers, explaining that “early, less rushed shoppers are doing research in June” and tend to “consume back-to-school content at home on their desktops and tablets,” while “more traditional and last-minute shoppers are likely consuming the content on the go and in-stores; this is seen by the growth in mobile and tablet consumption in August and September.” In both cases, all signs point to the increasing integration of mobile into the back to school shopping experience.
Honing in on the college front, a growing trend has retailers finding inspiration in traditional wedding registries, with such giants as Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond rolling out back to school gift registries for students. As USA Today reports, students can register for gifts—from towels to headphones and everything in between—on retailer websites, saving time and reducing some of the stressful frenzy around preparing for that new home away from home. Additionally, the lists created on such registries generate datasets of consumer preferences and completed sales, a highly valuable asset to retailers.
While a growing number of purchases are happening online, in-store shopping is still popular, with 50 percent of shoppers walking into stores for back to school needs. The enormity of the back to school sales season means that retailers have a tremendous amount of data at their fingertips—data concerning consumer behavior, purchase decisions, merchandising and more. Preparing and paving the road for future successful back to school seasons depends on a robust system for collecting field data. The right mobile data collection tool enables decision-makers to analyze a plethora of data in real-time to stay on top of actionable insights and ahead of the competition—this year and for years to come.