Follett Higher Education Group today announced that online orders across Follett's 1,250 ecommerce websites increased by 93% YTD as a result of consumers shifting spending from in-store to online since the early days of the pandemic.
COVID-19 accelerated a global shift to ecommerce, and during the fall back-to-school rush season, Follett's ecommerce online traffic reached 44 million, up 33% compared to last year for the same period. Online conversion, the percentage of website visits that result in a purchase, was up 45% versus last year, resulting in an 88% increase in sales.
"During what was undeniably the most challenging back-to-school rush season we've ever had in more than 145 years at Follett, our ecommerce team stepped up to ensure we delivered course materials, supplies and spirit gear to students safely and conveniently," said Roe J. McFarlane, President of Follett Higher Education Group. "Students, faculty and our campus partners rely on Follett to help students be successful wherever they're learning, and our omnichannel strategy was thoughtfully designed to serve them now and in the future."
The company recently completed the first phase of a $50M multiple-year investment in its ecommerce platform, which launched in June 2019. "The recent transformation of our ecommerce platform provided an incredibly stable environment that enabled a seamless and agile response to the surge of online shopping we experienced over the back-to-school season," said Lori Krzyzewski, Senior Vice President of Ecommerce. "The platform's unrivaled technology enabled us to respond quickly to our customers whose needs were changing every day as a result of COVID-19. I'm proud of our team for their hard work and dedication to our customers."
On peak days during the back-to-school season, Follett's ecommerce platform supported over 80,000 visits and 9,000 orders per hour, nearly double the order volume in the same timeframe in 2019. On peak days, the ecommerce platform averaged 20,000 requests per minute, up from 15,000 requests per minute last year.
Follett also leveraged the agility and flexibility of the ecommerce platform to enable real-time communication and updates about campus store temporary closures and reopenings. To ensure the safety and convenience for all, the company offered students additional options to pick up their course materials. As the first-to-market provider of Buy Online & Pickup In-Store in the 1990's, Follett's Pickup app was a natural extension of the company's commitment to convenience. This fall, more than 420 campus store locations offered curbside or limited contact pickup services, representing $8 million of online orders delivered. In 50 of these campus store locations, shoppers piloted the ability to schedule their pickup time, which resulted in more than 28,000 scheduled appointments.
About Follett Higher Education Group (FHEG):
FHEG is a prominent and historic omnichannel retailer and educational service provider that operates over 1,100 campus store locations and 1,250 ecommerce campus store websites. Currently ranked #82 on the Internet Retailer 500, Follett provides emblematic and non-emblematic general merchandise and course materials within the higher education marketplace.
FHEG serves both two-year and four-year colleges through long-term contracts with approximately 800 campus partners. FHEG manages the institution's online and in-store channels to assort and sell a wide array of merchandise and services that support students, faculty, campus administration, alumni, and the surrounding community. We enable faculty to teach, students to learn, institutions to run and fans to celebrate.