IBM Reports: Apparel, Home Goods and Department Store Retailers Fuel Back to School Online Sales

September 5, 2012 No Comments


Armonk, NY – September 6, 2012–U.S. consumers took advantage of back to school shopping this summer according to findings from IBM (NYSE: IBM). Over the months of July and August sales grew by 11 percent and the slowing to .5 percent.

Fueling this back to school shopping was a strong performance from department stores where online sales grew by 22.1 percent in July and 24.5 over August. Apparel retailers also had a strong back to school season with sales growing by 9.2 percent and 6 over this same period.

When it comes to the multichannel shopper, a growing number of consumers turned to social networks to plug into hot trends and big deals rather than wait for school to see what’s cool. This was especially the case when it came to apparel, where shoppers referred to online stores through social networks generated 2.2 percent of all sales in August, up more than 112 percent over 2011.

Mobile commerce also maintained its momentum, topping out at 15.7 percent in July (up from 6 percent in 2011) and remaining strong at 15.4 percent in August. For verticals such as home goods, mobile sales exceeded 20 percent in August.  With that, all signs point to mobile sales well exceeding 20 percent this coming holiday season.

Part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Benchmark is the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results from the websites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers. The IBM benchmark reveals the following back to school trends that are critical to chief marketing officers (CMO), e-commerce leaders and customer service professionals:

· July and August Online Sales: Sales for July were up more than 11 percent over July 2011 while August slowed by with sales up .5 percent compared to their respective weeks in 2011.
· Social Commerce: The channel began to demonstrate signs of life. In July, shoppers referred to retailer sites from social networks generated 1.6 percent of all sales, an increase of 25.1 percent over last year. This trend continued in August reaching 1.8 percent, an increasing 72 percent over the previous year.
· Mobile Commerce: Mobile commerce remains strong with sales from mobile devices reaching 15.7 percent in July and 15.4 percent over the month of August.
As for vertical industries the following categories experienced success over this timeframe:

· Home goods: In July online sales grew by just over 30 percent and 21.4 percent in August with consumers shifting some back to school purchases toward the home. Over this period mobile sales also thrived, reaching 19.1 percent in July and topping out at 20.2 percent in August.
· Department stores: Online sales grew by 22.1 percent in July and 24.5 percent in August. Over this period mobile sales were strong, hitting 19.2 percent in July and 19 percent in August.
· Apparel stores: Online sales were up 9.2 percent in July and 6 percent in August. Over this period mobile sales reached 15.1 percent and 16.5 percent in August. Apparel stores also experienced strong social commerce with shoppers referred to their sites from social networks generating 1.4 percent of all sales in July and 2.2 percent in August, up more than 112 percent over 2011, more than any other industry.
· Office Supplies/Electronics: Online sales grew by 6.3 percent in July while dropping by 2.8 percent in August. Mobile sales reached 5.7 percent in July remained steady in August a 5.9 percent.
More information on Smarter Commerce can be found at


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