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Sales & Ops
‘Back to School’ is Back: Our Top-6 Takeaways
August 11, 2021

It appears not even Amazon is immune to the Delta virus when it comes to Back to School (BTS) shopping, a segment of the market we view as a bellwether for the post pandemic world. Based on our latest batch of data, parents are excited to be sending their kiddos back into the classroom (albeit, cautiously optimistic) and teachers are busy shopping online to prepare their classrooms. Still, we have yet to see the spikes from previous years, possibly due to Prime Day deals in June mixed with uncertainty about the coming weeks and months. Read on to see the Top-6 Takeaways our platform had to tell us about BTS ‘21.

🎒One of the biggest bright spots we saw is that backpack searches have returned as the most frequently searched products on Amazon, followed closely by lunch boxes. This is a definite sign that things are back to “normal” after the significant drop we saw last year in these categories due to remote learning.  

🚀Teachers are excited to get back to school, too! The term “classroom supplies for teachers” is showing the biggest increase in frequency.

❓Despite the boom in searches, parents could be hedging their bets on distance learning making a potential comeback. Both Office Supplies and Desks are creeping into more shared search sessions with school-supply products.

💲Sales impact of Prime Day

Sales increase over baseline is a bit lower for late July/early August in 2021 than in 2020, but this appears to be mainly due to sales that were “pulled forward” by the June Prime Day. Adding Prime Day sales to July sales produces a lift about the same 2.5x lift over average Q2 sales as the 2020 July lift.

🙋Parents are eager to send kids off to school

BTS shopping is ramping up earlier compared to the previous two years. Prior to Covid, the search term “school supplies” started to increase in mid-July, reached its high point in mid-August then dropped rapidly through September. This year, traffic for the same search term started to rise earlier, tripling from a Q2 average of 110K searches/day to about 350K the last week in June.

🚦Traffic patterns have returned to “normal” as in previous years  

The number of “school supplies” related searches during the BTS season has doubled every year 2019 – 2021. So far, that seems to be the case with 11 of the top 40 keywords this month being Back to School-related terms.

Estimated Search Volume for keyword: “School Supplies”

Hits and Misses:

🌠 Mechanical Pencils, Pencil Sharpeners and Composition Notebooks saw 4x growth this year over past years! 

☔ Dry Erase Markers are less popular and searches have been on the decline by about 25% every year since 2018.

👀 Brands could start losing out to Amazon when it comes to certain school supplies like Notebooks where Basics is starting to gain share of voice against the incumbents. 

By all accounts, BTS is a welcome sign that we are returning to normal. As eMarketer has projected, e-commerce is holding its own and continuing at a very healthy pace. Amazon’s projected growth of 15.3% and Walmart at 21.3% driven by BOPIS and significant gains in grocery is encouraging. 

To learn how your brand can prepare for the stickiness of e-commerce in the new normal, request a demo now and see how CommerceIQ can help.