Mobile Search and Back-to-School: Is Your Organization Going to Get an “A+” in Mobile This Year?

Posted by Lisa Roberts at 10:51 am in Mobile

For those of us with school-aged kids, it’s hard to believe that the back-to-school season is almost upon us. Soon, parents will begin making school supply lists and shaking their heads in disbelief over how quickly their kids have outgrown last year’s jeans and football cleats.

According to a new survey recently published by Consumer Pulse from Rubicon Project, 56% of respondents (parents with children in grades K-12 and college) plan to spend more money per child than they did last year to prepare students for the upcoming school year. The survey showed that K-12 parents plan to spend an average of $873 per student, while parents of college-age students plan to spend more than $1,100 per student. As well, 23% of parents have already started their shopping and are planning for ongoing purchases throughout the summer.

For retailers, this is all great news. But the key question becomes, are retailers ready to meet the needs of back-to-school shoppers in all retail touch points? In 2014, a survey by Retale showed that 73% of parents used mobile to purchase back-to-school items across every facet of the retail process.

A big (and growing) vital component of that process is mobile search.

There is no escaping the fact that mobile is redefining the retail paradigm. According to Google, search is the number one place that a mobile shopper begins their research. In fact, search launches 48% of mobile retail product engagements. It drives more than 50% of web visits and nearly 30% web sales. Yet, according to Google, mobile users view only 1/3 of mobile pages and then click-away after one pageview twice as often. To make matters worse, 46% of retailers have reported consistently rising acquisition costs, according to’s recent State of Retail Online report. This, my friends, is a tough scenario.

So how can retailers earn that “A+” in mobile search they so desperately need to pass the back-to-school shopper test? It’s not easy, as retailers are tasked with determining how best to optimize each mobile engagement, as well as envisioning new and out-of-the-box ways to connect with shoppers.

Any search expert will tell you, if your core data about your products is not accurate and compelling, you’re immediately hamstrung in your ability to provide compelling search results. Great product data that is tied to a clear understanding of how to target shoppers per product is at the heart of optimized search investments. Some shoppers are going to know exactly what they’re looking for, yet many will have only a vague image in their head of what they’d prefer. Having a breadth of product data that reflects all the different ways that shoppers may express their preferences is key. Intelligence around which data simply creates engagement versus the data that drives conversion is vital to being able to accurately identify the most impactful keywords, decrease CPCs and conserve overall acquisition costs.

Additionally, a higher quality of product data also allows retailers to more easily give shoppers access to a highly curated selection of products on the landing page. Translation: make it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for by using more “normal” sounding search attributes and you’ll attract more high converting shoppers.

This fall, all eyes will be on mobile, and retailers need to be ready. Providing a more enriched and expanded product taxonomy and attributes will result in a source of new lower cost keywords to test, and ultimately, happier parents looking for a specific pair of size 8, bedazzled, straight-leg jeans for their fashionably opinionated 10-year-old.

Learn more about how to expand your product data in our ebook, Lost in Translation: Evolving Merchandising to Bridge the Shopper Communication Gap.

lisa roberts

Lisa Roberts is a 15-year Ecommerce vet who’s worked with technology innovators, including Edgecase, who are building real solutions for hard retailer problems. Her experience working inside a retailer, agency-side and vendor-side give her a unique perspective on how to innovate at the pace of consumer evolution while remaining focused on delivering proven results.

Follow Lisa Roberts on Twitter @lisadoesaustin

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