Retailers should expect a better back-to-school season this year.
HookLogic recently posted its 2016 outlook, which analyzed more than $100 million in sales and almost one million transactions of top retailers last year to create data and assist companies with back-to-school planning. Results included higher conversion rates and varied peak timing within four categories–electronics, home goods, school supplies and paper supplies.
Across all four categories, traffic measured by product page views, built slowly at the end of June, picked up rapidly throughout July and decreased by the end of September, something that HookLogic is forecasting to repeat in 2016. The 2015 trend was different from the previous year, where traffic and conversion rate followed each other closely and together experienced a mid-August peak, right at the cusp of school openings.
2015’s high conversion rate was due to the fact that retailers locked in sales and various consumers with pre-season discounts. According to the report, building traffic occured with an increase in online searching, where consumers determined their individual BTS supplies. Traffic continued in September as consumers gradually accumulated more supplies when schools open and then tapered off at the end of the month, after BTS supply lists were completed.
According to the report, each category experienced a different conversion rate: electronics was steady throughout the BTS timeframe; school supplies had larger increases from June to July; office supplies experienced a peak at the beginning of August; and bedding had a higher conversion rate in mid-July, then plummeted in August and September.
Unit sales analysis from the report confirmed that certain products experienced high increases from pre-BTS sales. Laptops, popular among college students, had a 95 percent daily average increase in unit sales during August. Lunch boxes had a 348 percent daily average increase in unit sales throughout July and only a 39 percent increase in September. But binders experienced the largest daily average increase in unit sales, going from 443 percent in July to 180 percent in September.
HookLogic provided solutions for retailers to use in their own BTS plans. First, retailers should calculate an appropriate time for investments: peaks drive big sales, but valleys can offer competitive advantages. Next, retailers should strategically pick heavily promoted categories carefully, as small categories may grow more. Lastly, retailers should lengthen their ad spending throughout September, since BTS shopping continues once schools are in session.