Sixty-two percent of millennials who are preparing to go back to school in the fall plan to shop with a smartphone for necessities and 80% will shop online, according to an online study by Branding Brand, a mobile commerce platform for retailers. Eighteen percent of U.S. shoppers ages 18-24 will use Apple Pay to make their purchase, while more than 10% will use Android Pay or Samsung Pay, .
Target has grown in popularity since last year, with 64% of shoppers saying they will buy back-to-school items from the discount chain, 64% from Walmart and 50% from Amazon, the survey said. Those results mark a significant shift from last year, when 74% of shoppers planned to buy from Amazon, 51% from Target and 42% from Walmart.
Amazon still has time to promote back-to-school specials, with 55% of survey respondents saying they won’t start shopping until August, while only 14% were done by last month. Twenty-two percent of shoppers plan to spend more money on back-to-school items this year, while 53% said they’ll keep their budgets the same as last year.
Back-to-school shopping is the second-busiest shopping season after the winter holidays, and often is a harbinger of how U.S. consumers behave going into the final part of the year after Thanksgiving. Consumers are starting their shopping earlier in the summer.
Younger consumers are also a good reflection of how use of the latest technology is evolving. With such a large percentage planning to use their smartphones for back-to-school shopping, retailers clearly need to have robust mobile strategies in place that reach consumers throughout the customer journey, including discovery. Last year, Google observed a sharp rise in searches for back-to-school the week of July 11, which was a week earlier than seen in 2015. Google also observed a shift toward mobile activity, with a 35% gain in searches among smartphones. Meanwhile, three out of five searches happened on a mobile device. The search giant also saw evidence that mobile searches were more likely to indicate a later visit to a department store.
Overall, use of mobile payments has been lagging, but with 18% of millennials planning to use Apple Pay for their shopping, retailers would be wise to offer mobile payments both in-store and online. The upcoming release of iOS 11 opens up access to the NFC chip that supports Apple Pay to developers for the first, suggesting there are likely to be new uses cases around this technology going forward, including loyalty schemes and location-based promotions.
Video should also be a part of retailers' back-to-school marketing efforts. Mobile video is also growing in popularity among students getting ready to return to school, Google found. The viewing time for back-to-school videos on YouTube jumped 70% last year from 12 months earlier, as students tuned into dorm tours and do-it-yourself tricks to save money. Target and “college stylist” personalities from YouTube shared ideas on how to decorate a dorm room. Google said 85% of views for back-to-school DIY videos occur on a mobile device.