Back-to-school shopping has gone mobile with 60% of parents using their phones to shop

Anne Freier | July 6, 2016

App Business


60% of all parents are planning to use their mobile devices for back-to-school shopping this year, according to new research from Rubicon Project. The advertising firm’s findings are based on a survey among over 1,000 parents and 500 students to find out about their shopping habits for school and college once the summer holidays are over.

The cash amount parents are spending is also on the rise, with 61% of parents planning to spend more than they did in 2015 – around $917 per child. The bulk of their spending will go towards technology-related items, with online being the favored choice of shopping channel.

Interestingly, tablets will be one of the main technology purchases with half of college kids’ parents looking to shop for tablets.

Technology leads in terms of category



Harry Patz, Chief Revenue Officer, Rubicon Project, says:

harry patz

“Back-to-school is one of the biggest shopping events of the year and parents aren’t afraid to open up their pocketbooks to ensure their children are best-prepared for the next grade. As parents spend more and begin shopping earlier than ever, it’s essential for retailers and marketers to create personalized and precisely targeted campaigns for both moms and dads geared towards where they are spending a majority of their time. Parents’ busy schedules have them increasingly turning online and to their mobile devices to make purchases, transforming the way they shop for their child’s back-to-school apparel, supplies and technology.”

According to the survey, 30% of parents will do at least 25% of their school shopping on mobile devices. Parents of college freshmen are even more drawn towards mCommerce with 42% planning to do so.

When it comes to gender, dads are more likely to purchase on mobile, with 41% of them saying they’d do at least a quarter of online shopping on a mobile device, compared to 24% of moms.

Dads are more mobile than moms



Retail mobile apps have also seen a rise in popularity with 47% of parents having installed the Amazon mobile app and 40% of college freshmen parents using at least three shopping apps.

71% of parents are planning to use retailer apps before they make a purchase. 66% of respondents use mobile apps to compare prices and 64% find out about sales that way.

It’s clear that parents have begun to establish a certain level of confidence when it comes to in-app purchasing and that’s only set to continue to increase.

Rubicon Project also highlights the financial strain that parents of freshmen are likely to feel with an average spend of $1,378 per child’s back-to-school shopping. K-12 parents are spending just half at $684 per kid.

39% of respondents said they were reevaluating their family mobile plan, whilst almost half plan to purchase or lease a car for their child and another 24% are activating new mobile plans for their kid.

Generally, 61% of parents are already foreseeing their child moving back home after college with 90% comfortable with that and over half of parents (57%) not inclined to charge any rent.

College kids set to return home, according to their parents