Consumer Trends

Survey Finds 81 Percent of K–12 Teachers Shopping Online for Class

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing, and 81 percent of K–12 teachers say they now shop online for classroom items, according to a new survey released by SheerID, a verification company, and Agile Education Marketing.

The third annual survey found that more teachers are using mobile methods to shop, and organizations that offer teacher discounts are more likely to gain long-term customer loyalty from teachers.

K–12 teachers spent an average of $487 of their own money on their classrooms for the 2015-16 school year, down only $3 from the previous year, the survey determined. Seventy-seven percent of teachers spent at least $200 or more, up 6 percent from the previous year. Individual teachers reported spending as much as $4,000 last year to get their classrooms ready for the school year.

The survey showed that 81 percent of teachers spent their money on classroom supplies — more than any other product or service, including professional development. Ninety-four percent said they prefer discounts in computers and electronics.  

Teachers are shifting to shopping online: 38 percent said they prefer to shop solely online, and 43 percent prefer to shop using a combination of both online and in store. Nearly 90 percent said they are more likely to buy from a company that offers a teacher discount online than one that doesn’t.

“Teachers are adapting to new technologies, both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Jenny Schumacher, vice president of sales and marketing for Agile Education Marketing, in a prepared statement. “When it comes to shopping, the convenience of researching the best deal online and choosing whether to shop in store or online has created more opportunities for educators to find the best prices on the products they need. And since the amount of teachers spending their own money on classroom items isn’t changing, it’s more important than ever that retailers who want to support educators offer their discounts online.”

As documented in previous years, teacher discounts are the best way for retailers to attract the attention of teachers and win their business. Eighty-four percent of teachers said they are more loyal to brands that offer teacher discounts.

The survey was sent out via e-mail in early May. Two blasts of 48,000 inquiries — a total of 96,000 — resulted in 558 responses. Raw data about the 2015-16 school year came in by May 31, a spokeswoman for SheerID said.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].