Ecommerce conversion rates

Our compilation comparing average conversion rates for retail sites and other industry sectors

As you will know, conversion rate is often used as a KPI to review the effectiveness of Ecommerce sites. Naturally all site managers and owners want to know, "how do our conversion rates compare?"

In this post I have compiled different free industry sources focusing on retail Ecommerce conversion, but towards the end of the post, a chart shows average conversion rates for a range of sectors including B2B conversion.

Before we get to the stats, one other caveat on analysis of conversion rates:

When benchmarking conversion rate, we think it's important to explain to marketing managers that they should go beyond headline conversion rates to segment conversion by different types of visitor.

To see why, see Dan Barker's excellent post explaining why conversion rate is a horrible measure to focus on.

November 2016 update - retail conversion rates by device

The Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly is a great source giving regularly updated benchmarks on conversion segmented by devices and media for large Ecommerce brands.

Their latest quarterly update from November 2016 shows conversion rates to add-to-basket or cart and below sale across the last 4 quarters, up to the Q3 2016:

With shoppers increasingly using smartphone and tablet to purchase, it's vital for online retailers to know the effectiveness of trading via these platforms.

This compilation of retail orders by device type from September 2016 from another source - the Custora Ecommerce Pulse shows the impact of lower conversion rates on smartphone on the level of sales by online channel which is currently 67% desktop and 33% mobile (24% smartphone, 9% tablet).

Retail orders via device

Mobile retail conversion rates

This new report from the Adobe Mobile retail report has a simple table comparing cart and visit (overall) conversion on smartphone vs tablet vs desktop. It shows that visit conversion is nearly 3 times higher on desktop vs smartphone.

Smartphone vs Tablet vs Desktop conversion rates

  • Location: US
  • Date: October 2016 (2016 data)
  • Sample: Top 100 retailers (so representative of common consumer behaviour)
  • Source: Adobe Mobile retail 2016 report

If you're creating a business case for mobile optimised sites as explained in our Ecommerce mobile and desktop wireframes guide or mobile marketing strategy guide, this data is also valuable since it shows the variation in conversion rate by mobile devices type.  Tablet conversion rates are similar, but slightly lower than desktop conversion rates, suggesting people are increasingly comfortable with the experience of buying on tablets.

However, it's a different story for Smartphones since these convert at one third to one quarter of the rate of traditional or tablet devices.

This suggests smartphones are more of browse or research platform rather than a buy platform since many of the large retailers featured in this survey will have mobile optimised sites. Smartphone experiences should be personalised to show this different form of usage. The lower conversion rates for mobile devices are also shown in these compilations of Android vs MacOS vs iOS operating systems.

Conversion rates by channel

Conversion rates for other sectors: telecoms and travel

These are available in the Adobe Digital Index (ADI) - this data is available in the April 2016 published data for the whole of 2015.

2016 desktop vs mobile conversion stats

Conversion rates for US vs Europe vs Asia Pacific for the travel industry

The ADI report also compares conversion for EMEA countries against the US. UK and US conversion are significantly lower than other European countries perhaps because of less competition or Amazon being lower in these countries. Different rates of smartphone adoption will also affect this cross-platform average.

Travel sector conversion by device

UK average conversion rates from IMRG

With the acquisition of retail analytics service Coremetrics by IBM we lost one of our best free sources for comparing conversion rates. Within the UK data is compiled for members by retail category. These aren't shared any longer, so this is dated. This chart shows that average conversion rates for visits to sale of 4 percent. Note that these are typically for large brands, so conversion rates for less well-known brands that don't have the credibility, trust or large base of returning customers will generally be lower. Based on previous UK compilations from Coremetrics when their data was published we can say that typical average conversion rates for established retail brands are...

Conversion rate (visit to add to basket): 8% Conversion rate (visit to sale): 4%

It's interesting that there is a typical 50% abandonment from basket through checkout to sale, even with the efforts on checkout optimisation. It suggests many will add to basket when researching and comparing, but may eventually buy elsewhere online or offline. This is a screengrab of the Coremetrics data from 2009 which shows that visitor sessions with an add to basket or cart are typically double those of order or sale sessions. The much more recent Monetate earlier in the post also shows this. We have retained this since it shows the increase in conversion if you can encourage a visitor to search.

Options for segmenting conversion rate

As Dan Barker suggests in his advice we mentioned at the start of this post, conversion rate gets more useful as you break it down by different types of visitors with different intent and a different relationship with the retailer. Different conversion rates and average order values can then be segmented for different audiences to understand and work to improve the quality of traffic or strength of propositions, for example:

  • First time, repeat visitor or registered customer conversion
  • Referring channel conversion, e.g. paid or natural search, social media, affiliates, display advertising
  • Search type, e.g. paid or natural, brand, generic or long-tail
  • Product category type - conversion rates are much higher for simple commodity products for example - flower purchase (double digit percentage) compared with a higher cost product that will often be purchased in store (for example beds or furniture which will often be less than one percent).
  • Promotion type or seasonal sale - the IMRG data and Coremetrics data below shows that conversion rate can increase dramatically at these times.

Conversion rates for non Ecommerce sites including B2B conversion

I'm also often asked about conversion rates in other sectors, particularly for business-to-business lead generation. While similar caveats about sub-category, type of visitor and strength of brand apply, this is a useful compilation from this older Marketing Sherpa of average conversion rates by industry sector.

Share your thoughts

  • Dave,

    Your post is comprehensive and it’s packed with fantastic stats. I wanted to contribute something relevant and actionable for increasing conversion rates by LOWERING product return rates.

    I’ve seen many retailers almost like to ‘hide’ their policy in the hopes it will not cross their shopper’s mind.

    Wrong way to approach this of course!

    Offering returns for a longer than usual time frame can be an interesting tactic to test. It’s a small detail, yet so important for browsers to make that purchasing decision.

    I wrote a long post about using product returns as a value proposition, your readers may find actionable, if you don’t mind my sharing this here:

    • Cheers Jeff – yes we like actionable, so good to have your suggestion calling out the importance of testing how you feature returns policy.

      Do get in touch via Contact Us if you’d be interested in writing a guest post around this – with examples of retailers who do it well / badly.


  • nice! thank you so much! Thank you for sharing. Your blog posts are more interesting and impressive. I think there are many people like and visit it regularly, including me.

  • Andrea commented on July 25, 2016

    Hi Dave,

    I have a question. Do you have information, or an article, on conversion rates based on other channels, specifically if you send out an email blast to your subscribers, or post about a product on your Facebook page. Thanks!

  • It’s true. Compare to Google, Yahoo and Bing give more conversions. There is no doubt Google gives maximum visits but when comparing the conversion, Google is far behind.

  • efkas commented on June 30, 2016

    @Dave: Thank you for great article.
    General question to CR definition: how do you define it in those statistics?
    I am asking, as I recognise that there is often different CR definition in companies, some define it as transaction/check out other for example all sessions with transactions/all sessions overall…so want to make sure which internal numbers is good to compare with this general statistics 🙂

    Thx in advance

    • Thanks for your comment – you raise a very good point – you have to define conversion rate carefully when benchmarking published data against your own conversion rates of course. Since Google, in Analytics and AdWords, uses the definition of conversion rate as percentage of conversions (sales) divided by visits or sessions this has become the de-facto standard. It makes sense to do this given issues of accuracy with measuring unique users, but some prefer the idea of dividing by unique users.

      The Monetate Ecommerce quarterly reports we reference unfortunately don’t define the calculation of conversion rate which they should…

  • Msgsnd commented on May 30, 2016

    Wow! This is an amazingly thorough list. It clearly shows you know what you’re talking about.

    Keep up the great work! Thanks!

  • Google 1.71% ? AOL almost 4 times higher… something not quite right there.

  • HSHL commented on April 7, 2015

    We can’t seem to get our conversion rate any higher. I think it might be the copy. Anyone have any advice?

  • Anton commented on August 26, 2013

    In Ukraine conversion rate 1% is considered quite good. Strong retail brands have 2%.

  • Facebook User commented on July 3, 2013

    Does anyone know where I can get average conversion rates based on the industry? I know electronics must be different than home decor.

  • Movylo commented on June 27, 2013

    At we have merchants selling via smartphones, in several countries. Some of them (the top and smartest merchants I’d say…) range from 5 to 8%. We see that for smartphone commerce it’s a lot about impulse deals, promotions…than regular browsing. We have small and smart merchants selling A LOT more compared to bigger guys, both in terms of conversion rates and volumes

  • HomeSpaceDirect commented on June 10, 2013

    Can anybody help us with our website, we are achieving nowhere near the average conversion rate for an eCommerce website –

    • Harris commented on June 19, 2013

      I may be able to help. Email me at if you would like to discuss

    • Jason commented on July 18, 2013

      Too many clicks/pages to purchase a product. It took me 5 clicks before I could add an item to the basket.

    • Manuel da Costa commented on August 27, 2013

      Hi, I noticed that you’re based in Salford. how have your conversions improved over the last 3 months since you posted. If you are still struggling please feel free to email me and I can tell you about the ideas I have had after looking at the site.

    • Ragwin commented on February 25, 2014

      Where is your bricks and mortar address?

  • Andrea Moro commented on March 27, 2013

    Thanks for the post Dave. It’s always useful having metrics to use while pitching.

  • Primeoutsourcing commented on March 27, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this one. It is worth knowing!

Get FREE marketing planning templates

Start your Digital Marketing Plan today with our free Basic membership.

  • FREE fast start guides to review your approach
  • FREE digital marketing plan templates
  • FREE alerts on the latest developments

Need help with your Ecommerce?

Get more from your digital marketing with in-company or remote training and consultancy from Smart Insights

Get FREE marketing planning templates

Start your Digital Marketing Plan today with our free Basic membership.

  • FREE fast start guides to review your approach
  • FREE digital marketing plan templates
  • FREE alerts on the latest developments