• June 30th, 2017
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Back to School Shopping with Price Monitoring – Sorry Parents

Summer just started… I know, sorry to jump the gun! But what better time to start price monitoring the products that regularly get stuffed into your high school student’s backpack in late August – at least from a data nerd standpoint.

Leveraging our price monitoring solution, PricingIQ, we have setup a daily routine that monitors the competitive pricing for 24 products (below) on Amazon, Walmart, Office Depot, and Target. We set out on this small project to see if we can answer a couple of questions:

  1. How often do these retailers really change their pricing? (We might only see subtle day-to-day changes given we will only be monitoring these once a day to begin with).
  2. In the aggregate how much will an individual consumer save by shopping at one retailer or the next?
  3. Can we start to infer which retailers are driving price fluidity?
  4. Does it really pay to have brand loyalty? Or does it make more sense to shop around? What I am terming “Value Shop” in our charts.
  5. Finally, are “Back to School” sales really sales?

While I am not sure we will get all those questions answered with price tracking over the next 60 some odd days I am excited to start looking at the data we provide from an angle I am not used to, that of being a consumer. Already there are improvements I can see for our product. So if nothing else that is a win in my book! Additionally there is the very real possibility I end up leaving this scenario with more new questions than answers. That too is a good thing.

The products we are reviewing are below. Feel free to suggest any changes or additions, none of us having high school aged children made some of these are just educated / wild-ass guesses.

One final note, we tried to keep the products the same across all retailers (e.g. not substituting “Like Brand” for “Like Brand”) in order to keep the product variables as small as possible, so that removes some of the aspect of product (not retailer) comparison shopping. However, there are three cases where we needed to find a like brand substitute in order to ensure coverage for a particular class of product on all retailers.

The Basics

1.    Five Star Spiral Notebook, 1 Subject, College Ruled Paper, 100 Sheets

2.    Dixon Ticonderoga Wood Pencils

3.    Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, Medium, 3 Count

4.    Five Star Reinforced Filler Paper, College Ruled, Loose-leaf, 11 x 8.5 Inch Sheet Size, 100 Sheets

5.    Westcott Jeweled Plastic Ruler, 12 (Substituted on Target for Plastic Ruler with Finger Grip 12″)

6.    Charles Leonard Inc. Protractor, 6 Inch Open Center, Clear Plastic (Subbed on Office Depot for Office Depot® Brand Semicircular 6″ Protractor, Clear)

7.    BIC Wite-Out Mini Twist Correction Tape, White, 2-Count

8.    Paper Mate InkJoy 300RT Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point, 24-Pack

9.    Master Lock 1500D


10. ADVANTUS Zippered Binder Pencil Pouch

11. Wilson Jones 368 Basic Round Ring Binder, 1”

12. Cardinal Ring Binder Divider Pockets with Index Tabs

13. Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 in x 3 in, Marrakesh Collection, 5 Pads

14. Swingline Tot Stapler

Study Aids & Arts & Nice To Haves

15. Texas Instruments TI84 Plus

16. Sharpie Accent Pocket-Style Highlighters

17. Crayola Colored Pencils 24ct

18. Crayola Construction Paper 9″ x 12″ 240ct

19. Crayola Washable Markers

20. Elmer’s All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Clear, Washable, 4 Pack

21. Elmer’s Liquid School Glue, Washable, 4 Ounces, 1 Count

22. Fiskars Travel Folding Scissors

23. Contigo AUTOSPOUT 24oz Ashland Straw Water Bottle

24. SANDISK Cruzer Glide Flash Drive 32GB USB