The surprising back-to-school buying trends sellers should know

Students, teachers, and parents alike are gearing up to return to the classroom as early as this week after spending the better part of a year in their homes for virtual learning activities. When the back-to-school shopping season kicked-off last month, most sellers would think pens, papers, and similar school supplies would be the hottest selling items. But our data tells a different story.

Our Re-open 2021 study discovered that shoppers are shifting away from traditional pre-COVID-19 back-to-school categories like books and office supplies. Their time spent stuck at home during 2020 forced buyers to adapt their shopping lists to fit the COVID-19 lifestyle. As a result, eCommerce shopping went through a major boom with consumer electronics and comfortable clothes becoming highly sought after products. 

However, with the world reopening for school and business, shoppers are willing to spend big on new tech, ditch the loungewear, and update their wardrobes for in-person learning. In fact, NRF projects families will spend an average of $849 on back-to-school items this year, with 60% of that budget being dedicated to updating their wardrobes. 

eBay’s online marketplace uniquely positions itself to be a one-stop-shop for both of these popular back-to-school categories. And savvy sellers who leverage our eBay advertising solutions will find increased success over others. Let’s talk about what sellers can do to take advantage of this opportunity.

Tech boom on eBay

The shopping experience on eBay offers consumers a way to find their favorite electronic brands and discover new ones, all while enjoying the comfort and convenience they grew used to during lockdown. Demand for personal electronics rose dramatically throughout the 2020 back-to-school season. In fact, every minute we saw1

  • 34 laptops purchased
  • 28 iPhones purchased
  • 26 Nintendo Switches purchased

Laptops evolved from a nice-to-have luxury purchase, into a necessity for households. During a recent IAB There discussion, North America GM at eBay Ads, Elisabeth Rommel, and Head of HP 3rd Party Marketplace Stores, Bryan Beckman, discussed the evolving need for consumer electronics. Beckman described what they saw unfolding at HP,

“We at HP went from 1 laptop per household pre-COVID, to becoming an essential item for both work and school. Now households have more like 1 laptop/person in each household.”  -Bryan Beckman

Quote from Bryan Beckman, Head of third party marketplace stores at HP

The higher demand surrounding consumer electronics requires a well-thought-out eCommerce marketing strategy. It’s important to review your listings to ensure you’ve provided a keyword-rich title and description, as well as clear and well-lit photos of your products. Smart sellers should then take advantage of our advertising solutions, like Promoted Listings Standard, to set their listings apart. Promoted Listings Standard are specifically designed to boost your listings during these sales opportunities. We’ve seen sellers reach as high as 3x increase in overall sales using the tool. If you’re not sure about how much to spend, the Promoted Listings Standard feature will provide a Suggested Ad Rate to get you started and stay competitive. 

Fashion Reset

It’s time to replace the sweats. Spending an entire year inside will make anyone want a wardrobe refresh – and back-to-school is the perfect excuse to start shopping. Readers of our previous back-to-school blog already know buyers are ready to switch up their look and make a statement with their fashion choices. In fact, Mastercard anticipates apparel to have a 78% increase in sales from last year. 

So what makes eBay so special when it comes to fashion? Our vast online marketplace gives buyers the ability to discover unique clothing without having to browse for hours on end. There’s no need to drive to different stores or max-out your web browser’s tab limit. Shoppers can create all their original outfits without leaving the eBay marketplace. 

For an extra layer of protection, eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee program provides buyers security when purchasing outfit accessories like sneakers, watches, and handbags. Sellers can enroll into the Authenticity Guarantee at no additional cost and provide elevated value to their store listings. 

Partnering with eBay Ads as early as possible can help boost the visibility of your fashion listings and increase the chance of connecting with the right buyers. We’ve seen partners in the apparel category double their sales using Promoted Listings Standard and following eBay’s trending ad rate guidance to stay competitive. And eBay provides updated resources to our Seller Center to help your advertising efforts when needed.

We’re confident that sellers who adapt their marketing strategy to include Promoted Listings Standard will drive sales for their consumer electronics and fashion listings. Start advertising your listings today by following our simple Promoted Listings Standard guide.

1 eBay First-Party Data, 7/1/20 – 9/30/20

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