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eCommerce Final Exam: Back-to-School 2017

Christian Sharrow-Blaum • September 27, 2017

Pop Quiz: behind the holidays, what is the second largest shopping season of the year? Valentine’s Day? Easter? Halloween?

It’s back-to-school season. Covering the dog-days of summer, this stretch of July and August drives about 17% of the year’s retail sales, and acts as a study guide for retail’s biggest test: Black Friday.

Data released by NetElixer reports that the 2017 back-to-school season brought a 3% increase in eCommerce sales, but massive leaps in mobile orders and revenue.


The Mobile Surge

That 3% growth rate is significant, but the mobile stats tell the real story. Mobile orders increased 44%, while desktop orders were down 3%. Revenue tells an even more intriguing tale, as mobile was up a whopping 64% with desktop revenues only managing a 2% bump.

The story here is clear: in addition to utilizing mobile devices to locate coupons, or compare prices, customers are increasingly shopping on their mobile devices. People are getting more comfortable with buying through their mobile devices, and retailers need to prepare themselves to optimize their experiences and convert mobile consumers.


Closing the Gap

Long a maxim of eCommerce, customers made larger purchases from the comfort and security of their desktop, and bought smaller everyday items through their mobile devices. This back-to-school season tells us that this tenet is changing – fast.

Desktop used to enjoy a 30-35% gap in average order value (AOV), but this back-to-school season, that gap has been halved. Desktop AOV now stands at $132 – a gain of $5 – while mobile AOV has rocketed to $109 – a gain of $15. That 30% cushion desktop shopping enjoyed is closing quickly.


What Does This Mean for Black Friday?

While improved consumer confidence will make this the largest holiday season yet in terms of pure retail revenue, eCommerce will continue to see double-digit growth with mobile leading the charge.

NetElixer predicts that – based on back-to-school data – 35% of all online purchases this holiday season will be made on mobile devices. Paired with more and more retailers adopting operational and fulfillment optimizations such as ship-to-store and drop lockers, eCommerce will continue to claim overall share of the holiday retail market.


So, let’s review:

  • Back-to-School eCommerce grew 3% in 2017
  • Mobile orders grew 44%, and revenues increased by 64%
  • Mobile AOV continues to close the gap
  • Customers expect mobile experiences that integrate seamlessly across the rest of the brand


Want to learn more? Check out how we create mobile-first experiences for our clients, and listen to our free on-demand webinar on how to use data to optimize your eCommerce design.

Christian Sharrow-Blaum

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Christian Sharrow-Blaum

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