Back-to-school online shopping experience overwhelmingly preferred

Industry News

When retailers think of the back-to-school shopping season, the first thing that comes to mind may be long lines at the register with screaming kids and annoyed parents. However, a recent report from AOL suggests that may be changing this year, as more people plan on shopping online to avoid the hustle and bustle of in-store back-to-school shopping.

The average family will spend nearly $670 this year, which is a 5 percent increase from budgets last year. However, people actually may be looking to buy more than that slight budget increase suggests, as many shoppers plan to capitalize on lower prices generally found online. According to the AOL study, which polled a panel of 12,000 consumers, 68 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 plan to hit the Web for their back-to-school shopping.

Brick-and-mortar versus online

68 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 plan to hit the Web for their back-to-school shopping.

When asked why they prefer the Web, respondents were quick to note better prices, a faster experience and no crowds. Plus, the ability to quickly look up product information while shopping online cannot be overlooked, Internet Retailer noted. Being at the computer makes it much easier to find the perfect purchase. The Internet is a huge tool for back-to-school shopping and having the Web at their fingertips significantly improves confidence in purchase decisions.

Although most people plan to shop online due to the prevalence of the Web, the AOL report included that mobile devices can fill a similar role for those who do choose to brave the crowds and head to stores for their back-to-school shopping needs. Smartphones offer many of the same benefits, allowing people to read reviews, compare prices and research products as they are in store- it’s simply just not as user friendly. Navigating websites and typing search queries isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do within the confines of a small smartphone screen.

Prepare for back-to-school shopping season

Whether merchants sell consumer electronics such as laptops or apparel, back-to-school shopping season can be a peak time for eCommerce operations. It’s critical that merchants are prepared to handle the influx of orders. Retailers need to focus on making the shopping experience as streamlined as possible, which includes everything from check out to order fulfillment.

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