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E-commerce conversion rates – how do yours compare?

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 E-commerce 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 E-commerce conversion, but towards the end of the post, a chart shows average conversion rates for a range of sectors including B2B conversion. At the end of this article, we also feature an analysis of Unbounce landing page lead generation conversion by sector.

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...

February 2019 update

We keep this compilation updated as new conversion data is published. This is the first 2019 update which still includes 2018 data since there is a lag in publication by the Martech vendors who share their customers' data.

Retail conversion rates by device

The Monetate e-commerce Quarterly is a great source giving regularly updated with United States and United Kingdom benchmarks on conversion segmented by devices and media for large e-commerce brands.

With shoppers increasingly using smartphone and tablet to purchase, it's vital for online retailers to know conversion benchmarks they should be achieving on a smartphone device.  You can see that typically m-commerce conversion rates are around half of those on desktop. Improvements in mobile experiences over the past years haven't impacted this figure, showing that smartphone is more popular as a device for browsing products while desktop is preferred more for transacting. The latest data in February 2019 is published by Monetate for Q3 2018. The full report also includes average add-to-basket rates.

Further insight is available on conversion rates by operating system:

This shows that iOS conversions are significantly higher than Android. It's unclear to what extent this is based on usability against demographics affecting the propensity to research rather than buy on devices. Windows conversions are significantly higher than Mac.

Table data for reference

 Conversion Rates by DeviceQ3 2017Q4 2017Q1 2018Q2 2018Q3 2018
Global Desktop 4.15%4.40%3.77%3.83%3.94%
Smartphone1.51%1.84%1.65%1.82%1.84%
Tablet 3.55%3.88%3.43%3.68%3.78%

European retail conversion rate KPIs

Wolfgang Digital have a useful new E-commerce 2019 KPI report based on data from their European and US-based international clients. It's based on an analysis of over 250 million website sessions and over €500 million in online revenue over the 12 months from July 2017 to June 2018.

This chart compares athe verage conversion rate by visit to conversion rate by user.

Variation in conversion rate by country is shown, with UK conversion rates highest. This will depend on several factors. Online conversion rates tend to be highest in more mature markets where people are less likely to buy in-store, but it will also depend on brand-trust, so if a company is less well-known compared to the country in which it is based, this could reduce conversion.

Omnichannel conversion rates

Compilations of published conversion rates like this one often only consider online conversion to sale, yet offline conversion points such as 'click and collect' have become more important as this data from UK multichannel retailer Argos shows. You can see that digital accounts for 59% of all sales, but less that half of this amount would be counted as an online sale (Internet Home delivery and Fast track delivery, i.e. within one day).

What are the reasons consumers are less likely to buy on smartphones?

The comScore Mobile Hierarchy report has some useful insight on this which retailers can use to improve their service or messaging to reassure consumers.

Google Ads mobile conversion rates across different industry sectors

The new 2018 cross-industry Google Ads clickthrough rate and conversion benchmarks shows that:

The average conversion rate in Google Ads on mobile across all industries is 3.48% on the search network and 0.72% on the display network.

It's no surprise that the conversion rate in the search network is much higher than in the display network since in the search network, searchers are typing in product and brand names when they have specific intent. This isn't the case in the display network where they are responding to banner and text ads, typically on publisher sites.

Here are the results from 18 industries which could be useful if you are a startup modelling conversion rates as part of a business plan, or if you want a top-level comparison for your activities with others in your industry.

Of course, the outcome that is measured as conversion rate will vary according to sector and depending on the type of keyword, brand searches always have higher clickthrough and conversion rates than generic searches, for example. For retail, the outcome will be conversion to sale, but in many other sectors show, the conversion will be conversion to lead.

E-commerce conversion funnel

This funnel-based view of the conversion process is useful since as well as the average basket and sales conversion rates, it also shows the conversion rates to product page views which isn't published so often:

As would be expected, the number of sessions with product page views is much higher than the other micro-conversions, approaching 50 percent. This provides a useful benchmark and prompts retailers that it's useful to assess conversion to product page views when making site design improvements.

It also reminds us of the value of following up on interest in specific products and categories via sending personalized browse abandon emails which is the focus of the source of this post discussing best practices for browse abandons.

 December 2017 - Mobile conversion rates by traffic source or referrer

It's rare to see conversion comparisons by traffic source. This data is from an analysis of over $1 billion in sales on the Shopify platform over Black Friday / Cyber Monday when 64% of sales were on smartphones, a 10% increase from the previous year.

You can see that email is the highest converting channel. We would expect this since email subscriber lists contain customers (and some prospects) that have a higher conversion. Bear in mind that conversion rates for sales events can be significantly higher than during normal trading. Search visits are significantly higher converting than social since search has higher intent if someone is looking for a specific product or brand. Social media conversion has lower intent. Also since > 80% of social media browsing is on smartphones this will also decrease conversion since we have seen smartphone conversion is lower than desktop.

Mobile retail conversion rates

This report from the Adobe Digital Index 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.

Here are the tablulated figures:

If you're creating a business case for mobile-optimized sites as explained in our E-commerce mobile and desktop wireframes 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-optimized sites. Smartphone experiences should be personalized 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, which gives the latest 4th quarter data released in early 2017.

 

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.

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.

 

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:

Conversion rates for non-e-commerce 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.

Lead generation and landing page conversion rates by sector

However, this gives 'self-reported' conversion rates for lead generation, so it was good to see this new Landing page lead generation conversion rate research from Unbounce giving lead conversion rates by industry particularly since it's based on real-data of conversion rather than reported data which is more common for B2B and other sectors. Industries covered include business-to-business, Travel, Healthcare, Legal and Education sectors.

The chart shows wide variation within and between sectors with some businesses achieving lead generation conversion rates much higher than the media. So, to compare against your rates it's best to look at the media rates which vary between 2.8% and 6%.

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