Shoppers Kick Off Back-To-School Research Early In 2014

Shoppers Kick Off Back-To-School Research Early In 2014

backtoschoolBack-to-school shoppers in the U.S. started their research earlier than expected in 2014, according to a report from Bazaarvoice.

Although consumers indicated in an earlier Google/Ipsos study that they would begin their back-to-school research by mid- to late July and start purchasing in early to mid-August, customer-authored reviews and product Q&As revealed that the research instead peaked during July 1-10.

The report, titled: The Conversation Index: Volume 7 is based on an analysis of sample data from the Bazaarvoice network, including more than 57 million product reviews and topping 35 billion product page views.

The product review data is particularly significant for retailers since shoppers who read reviews are more likely to buy. During the 2013 back-to-school season, for example, visitors who reached a consumer electronics or office supplies product page were 37% more likely to convert if they read product reviews beforehand, according to Bazaarvoice. Similarly, revenue per visit in consumer electronics and office supplies increased 28% and 48% respectively when site visitors read reviews.

With this added emphasis on customer feedback, Bazaarvoice offered retailers three recommendations:

  • Promote product reviews and customer Q&As both in-store and online during the back-to-school research period;
  • Equip sales associates with mobile devices so shoppers can check customer feedback in the store; and
  • Begin back-to-school promotions earlier in the summer to reach more shoppers during the purchasing process.

Post-Review Mobile Purchasing Doubles Desktop Sales

In studying consumer surveys, Bazzarvoice found that shoppers who access reviews via desktop computers are 66% more likely to buy compared to those who don’t read reviews; and consumers reading reviews on mobile devices are 127% more likely to make a purchase.

“For a user on their mobile device, if you’re going to start looking at ratings and reviews, you have a smaller form factor,” explained Matt Krebsbach, Director of Public Relations and Analyst Relations at Bazzarvoice. “You’re looking at longer form content. The likelihood is that if you’re looking at that content on a mobile device, you’re probably looking at a product that you’re highly interested in.”

Krebsbach also cited time-of-day as a potential factor determining which device consumers are using during the purchase process, noting similarities to data from a 2013 comScore report: “When desktop usage is at its highest level, people tend to be at work, so they’re not necessarily in that buying mode. You probably have a segment of the population that has the freedom and flexibility to get online and conduct e-Commerce transactions while they’re at the office, but a lot of people are going to wait until they get home. The predominant device when people are at home is the mobile device.”

Additionally, the Bazaarvoice report analyzed consumer surveys during holiday shopping, noting that customer review page views spiked during November and December. Traffic during the two months exceeded other months by 38% and 48%, respectively.

As a final recommendation, Bazaarvoice suggested that retailers increase review volume before the holiday season starts and prominently display the review function on heavily shopped days.

“Marketers are accustomed to creating seasonal shopping campaigns at regular points on the calendar, but analyzing product reviews offers new insights that promote more effective consumer engagement during these critical sales periods,” said Lisa Pearson, CMO at Bazaarvoice. “Understanding these finer points can not only provide a competitive advantage during the busiest shopping seasons, but also be a key component to winning new customers year-round.”

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