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86pc of back-to-school shoppers will use mobile in-store: report

Mobile should be at the forefront of retailers’ minds as the back-to-school season draws closer, as 86 percent of shoppers plan to leverage their smartphones while browsing in-store, according to a survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

In-store purchases will continue dominating the sector, with 95 percent of consumers planning to buy back-to-school products at bricks-and-mortar stores, per the survey. However, the biggest takeaway is that 86 percent of shoppers will leverage their smartphones during in-store shopping sessions, primarily to view ratings, look up available discounts and conduct price comparisons.

“Back-to-school shopping is considered the second biggest spending season of the year and according to ICSC’s survey, this season is shaping up to be the strongest of recent years,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Mobile shopping companions
The ICSC’s survey indicates that consumers are relying on mobile as their go-to shopping companion more heavily than ever, a behavior that retailers must take into consideration when brainstorming their back-to-school marketing strategies.

Per the survey, which was conducted from July 7 to 10 across a sample of 1,023 adults, 86 percent of shoppers will use their mobile devices while in-store. Fifty-eight percent will use them to compare prices with competing retailers, while 45 percent and 34 percent will leverage their smartphones to locate discounts and view product ratings, respectively.

Omnichannel shopping will play a starring role in back-to-school commerce this year, with 33 percent of individuals planning to make a purchase online and pick it up at a bricks-and-mortar location. Additionally, 84 percent of those customers will make another purchase when retrieving their online orders.

This indicates that Buy Online, Pick Up In Store options are resonating positively with consumers, and should be implemented by a greater number of retailers.

Mobile-enabled spending upticks
Mobile has historically been a driving force in many consumers’ back-to-school shopping sessions, a factor that has prompted brands to implement it into their own commerce-driven initiatives.

For example, Office Depot is tapping into Snapchat to prepare students for when they head back to school with brain-teaser contests, keeping the retailer in mind as consumers start shopping for the fall semester (see story).

Marketers that do not place a spotlight on mobile during this back-to-school season will likely lose out on sales.

A 2015 report from Retale affirmed that retailers must bridge mobile and in-store shopping for back-to-school deals or risk getting left behind, as consumers are relying on their untethered devices for information regarding discount pricing for the fall season (see story).

Ultimately, brands with omnichannel capabilities will be the biggest winners this season, lending credence to the idea that mobile and bricks-and-mortar are an unstoppable duo.

Per the ICSC’s survey, 93 percent of shoppers claimed they plan to purchase back-to-school items in malls or shopping centers because 42 percent want to physically see and touch the merchandise, while 34 percent want to circumvent shipping fees and 33 percent appreciate the convenience of shopping in a singular location.

“As we’ve seen in our other surveys, the majority of consumers intend to shop primarily in stores,” Mr. McGee said. “At the same time, there is a continued interest in leveraging omnichannel strategies such as click and collect as consumers integrate technology into their shopping experience.”