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Convenience Commerce

For back-to-school basics, consumers increasingly shop online

by Arye Zucker - April 25, 2018

Image credit: The Climate Reality Project (via Unsplash)

New data from Slice Intelligence reveals that consumers are increasingly doing their back to school shopping online, with every major school supply category posting significant growth since the 2016 back-to-school shopping season. Basic items, like writing instruments and calculators, are enjoying triple-digit year-on-year growth, with sales of calculators growing at 165 percent and pens and pencils at 134 percent.

Amazon sells more laptops for back-to-school than during the holidays

Laptop shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Amazon, and most purchase their high-tech essentials in August. 30 percent of all laptops sold online during back-to-school arrive in an Amazon box and laptop sales generate more revenue for Amazon during the back-to-school season than during the conventional holiday shopping season.

August sets the pace for online back-to-school shopping, but for how long?

Historically, online school supply shopping really takes off in August for most items, particularly pens, calculators and backpacks. The only outliers are dorm fridges, which enjoy their seasonal high in June, when 41 percent of all dorm fridges are sold, and tablets, which move fastest in September.

But the sales are edging earlier. At the time of writing, (we don’t have complete data for the month of August yet) sales of calculators peaked the second week of August and pens/pencils hit theirs in the last week of July. Holistically, most online back-to-school shopping happens earlier than in years past, a trend we first reported last year.

About this data

With a panel of 5 million online shoppers, Slice Intelligence gives the most detailed, and accurate digital commerce data available, and is reported daily.

Slice Intelligence is the only service to measure digital commerce directly from the consumer, across all retailers, at the item level, and over time. Our retailer-independent methodology precisely measures commerce as it happens. By extracting detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts, Slice can map the entire Purchase Graph, connecting each and every consumer to all their purchases.

Slice gets its data from e-receipts – not a browser, app or software installed by the end-user – so its measurement reflects comprehensive shopping behavior across multiple devices, over time which are key in an increasingly omnichannel retail world. Slice Intelligence is the exclusive e-commerce data provider for the NPD’s Checkout Tracking e-commerce service.