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What are typical average add-to-cart conversion rates?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 19 Mar, 2018
Essential Essential topic

Chart of the Day:A comparison benchmark of add-to-basket rates with conversion rates?

Do you call it add-to-cart or add-to-basket? It depends where you are based - cart is most common in the United States, basket is more common in the UK and Australia.

Regardless of what you call it, adding an item to the cart is an important micro-conversion step to measure and benchmark for retailers. While it is common to compare conversion rates, naturally this measures the efficiency of the overall process including both category or product views, basket adds and checkout.

Add-to-basket rates give additional information about how appealing individual products are based on description and visuals on the product page. It shows intent to purchase by interactions with the site (Act in the Smart Insights RACE Planning conversion funnel). Google has several definitions in its Enhanced Ecommerce tracking and they neatly avoid the use of basket or cart. These measures include:

  • Product Adds (to carts)
  • Product Removes (from carts)
  • Cart-to-Detail Rate (number of products added per number of product-detail views)

Of course, the overall conversion may take place over several sessions in practice.

What is an add-to-cart conversion rate?

As with all KPIs, we have to be careful to define add-to-basket rates since it can vary by the type of analytics system you're using. As with Ecommerce conversion rates, it can be stated as the ratio of adds to visitor sessions or unique visitors. Because of the difficulty in identifying unique visitors, it's common, as with Google Analytics to measure conversion to visitor sessions. We also have to think whether it's based on views of the basket or cart rates, or clicks on the button. Since it's easier to measure clicks, it's generally the case that it's based on button clicks, but that does vary by system.

So we can define add-to-cart conversion rate as:

The percentage of visitors sessions to a website that involve a click on the add-to-cart or add-to-basket buttons.

Average add-to-cart rates by device

Unfortunately Google doesn't publish average add-to-cart rates, but fortunately, there is a good source in the regularly updated Monetate Ecommerce research benchmarks.

The most recent compilation from Monetate shows that:

  • The average add-to-cart rate is 10.9% (amongst their customers)
  • Add-to-cart is slightly  lower on smartphone (9,4%) compared to desktop (12.5%)
  • Tablet rates are simila to desktopr, but slightly lower than desktop (10.3%)
  • Conversion rates overall are at roughly one-third of this rate (3.3% in Q3)

The lower add-to-cart rate on smartphone compared to desktop is similar to the pattern for retail conversion rates, but with less difference - conversion rates to sale on smartphone is around half that on desktop. Why is this? Well it has to be a combination of user preference to purchase on desktop and usability challenges on smartphone. Perhaps the difference between the United States and UK in the chart shows how this can be optimised. Closer similarity in add-to-cart rates perhaps shows people are adding to basket on smartphone and then completing sale on desktop. A theme explored in the Monetate research for Q4 2017.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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