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E-commerce installs and sessions reveal opportunity in back-to-school period

The back-to-school period between July and September in the U.S. is proving to be one of opportunity for e-commerce. Mastercard SpendingPulse recently predicted that back-to-school spending will increase by 7.5% in 2022, higher by 18.5% than the 2019 season.

Using Adjust data, we analyzed U.S. e-commerce installs and sessions from July to September over the last two years to determine if this season also influences e-commerce apps. The results we uncovered suggest e-commerce apps could benefit from pursuing back-to-school shoppers.

E-commerce installs spike in August and September 2021

School start dates differ in the U.S., with each district determining its start date between the last week of July and the second week of September. The spikes in e-commerce app installs in the fourth week of August and second week of September 2021—both above the yearly 2021 average in the U.S. by 54% and 35%, respectively—could indicate an openness toward new e-commerce apps to get last-minute school shopping done via mobile.

In fact, compared to July 2020, e-commerce shopping apps saw a 97% increase in installs in July 2021. This major jump in year-over-year growth reveals that e-commerce shopping apps are still growing in prominence post-pandemic and are here to stay.

July burns bright for e-commerce shopping sessions

App marketers for e-commerce shopping apps would do well to ramp up back-to-school campaigns in the month of July. From July 2020 to July 2021, we note a 72% increase in sessions year-over-year for e-commerce shopping.

July’s session lengths perform well, particularly in week 3 of both 2020 and 2021. Ensure your app secures longer session lengths during this competitive week with engaging content, back-to-school offers, and an overall excellent user experience.

Focus on back-to-school shoppers’ motivations

While a large percentage of shoppers still get their school supplies from brick-and-mortar stores, 30% also shop on third-party apps. Therefore, creating back-to-school campaigns around the main drivers of your app’s users is vital.

Which things make users more likely to spend in your app? Is it your promotions, notifications, or perhaps a niche product for the back-to-school period? Learn what will push your users to conversion.

According to a survey last year, these are the motivations for back-to-school shoppers:

At 61%, price point is the dominating motivator, followed by item availability (42%), and offers (35%). Below we’ll look at examples of how to tap into these top three motivations and increase your ROAS.

1. Showcase competitive pricing

With myriad companies featuring back-to-school campaigns, it’s critical your app’s ads stand out. Consumers have reported that pricing is the number one priority for them before the new school year. Therefore, consider messaging and creative centered on how specific inventory is priced to save your users money.

Spotify, Hulu, and Showtime have teamed up to offer a student bundle in which student subscribers can gain access to all three platforms for $4.99 a month. Without this discount, the three subscriptions collectively cost $23 per month. Not only is this an excellent example of competitive pricing, but also an inspiration for clever cross-collaboration.

2. Amplify convenience

Even if your app doesn’t sell pencils and backpacks but instead designer shoes, you can still take advantage of the back-to-school season by emphasizing the convenience of shopping on your app. After all, a clear selling point for all in-app shopping is that users never have to leave their couches and brave the back-to-school crowds.

For example, a video script for your ad could be, “Jane needs new shoes to enter the classroom with confidence and a pair of cleats for soccer. But we’ll let mom and dad cash in on our back-to-school offers while the whole family enjoys the last of summer by the pool.”

While not all brands can compete with the inventory of Amazon, the giant e-commerce retailer has positioned itself well with its Prime Day occurring in July. Last year, 23% of shoppers surveyed by Adobe said they shop on Amazon Prime Day to get ahead of back-to-school shopping, signifying this type of shopping can be overwhelming and a reason for shoppers to purchase online or in-app rather than in-store.

3. Supply pencils…we mean discounts

This third point should come as no surprise, as with most seasonal events, app marketers find themselves crafting campaigns highlighting relevant discounts.

Capitalizing on back-to-school promotions, Apple recently released its educational discounts to university students, parents of students, university faculty, and K-12 grade staff. Apple is offering a $150 Apple gift card and 20% off an Apple Care plan with the purchase of a new Mac computer.

In summary, don’t miss out on this seasonal opportunity to increase your e-commerce app’s bottom line. With 49 million students in public schools, 19 million students in colleges and universities, and countless parents, the back-to-school period in the U.S. is well worth your time.

Ready to acquire more users and generate greater in-app revenue for your app? Check out Part 1 of our guide: Scaling your app to 1 million users, which covers ASO and UA strategies for app growth.

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