Study: Back-to-school shopping keeps going digital

Most back-to-school shopping will occur in brick-and-mortar stores this year, but a new study reveals some trending changes.

According to the latest Coresight Research 2019 Back-to-School Digital Trends report, approximately 28.3% of total US back-to-school spend will be online this year, up from 26.1% in 2018. The study attributes part of this increase to overall growth in e-commerce penetration rates in the core back-to-school categories of apparel and consumer electronics.

Mobile commerce will also be popular with back-to-school shoppers this year for a variety of omnichannel activities. Half of smartphone/tablet users with school-age children will use their mobile devices to research products and compare prices, while nearly 37% of smartphone/tablet users with school-age children plan to make purchases from their mobile devices. Another 27% plan to redeem mobile coupons.

Reflecting cross-channel shopping behaviors, one-quarter of smartphone/tablet users with school-age children expect to check in-store product availability on their device. While many shoppers will shop via smartphone, mobile payments for in-store transactions are much less popular. Only 9.2% of mobile users plan to pay in-store with mobile devices.

In addition, 74% of US mothers who plan to buy online this back-to-school season will shop school supplies from Amazon, while 59% will make online orders at Walmart, and 29% plan to shop online at Target.

Coresight advises that as consumers are shopping across channels, retailers are giving them more digital tools and options, such as better-equipped mobile apps and more fulfillment choices. Like the holidays, back-to-school shopping is “shopping-list shopping,” largely functional and planned, so Coresight analysts expect consumers to prefer digital services that reduce friction and expedite the shopping process.