September 13, 2011, 3:28 PM

Online shoppers spend less, even as conversion rates barely change

RichRelevance reports a 9% drop in average order values for August.

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Consumers on average spent less online per order in August compared with the same month a year ago, though conversion rates remained virtually unchanged, according to data released today by RichRelevance.

The personalization recommendations technology vendor says it based its findings on 200 million shopping sessions that produced 4 million orders for its U.S. retailer clients. A similar report about online shopping behavior also released today by and Forrester Research Inc. was based on surveys of companies that sell over the web. More information about the report, which contained some contradictory findings, can be found by clicking here.

RichRelevance says that online shoppers in August spent on average $116.58 per order in August, down 9% from $128.27 in August 2010. The technology provider blames the drop on consumers worrying about costs and taking advantage of cheaper shipping options available on smaller purchases instead of, say, waiting to make larger purchases to take advantage of free shipping offers. Conversion rates, though, held virtually steady at 2.13% in August compared with 2.10% for the same month last year.

The report also finds that organic search accounted for 18% of traffic to e-commerce sites in August, with most of the traffic, 81%, coming from Google. By comparison, Twitter and Facebook accounted for less than 1% of traffic to retail sites in August, though traffic from Facebook increased 92% year over year.

But consumers coming to e-commerce sites via those social networks tend to spend more than do other shoppers, RichRelevance says. Shoppers coming via Twitter, for instance, spent an average of $121.33 per order, the highest average order value in August among the traffic sources tracked. By comparison, the average order value for shoppers who came from Google was $100.16, from Facebook $102.59 and from Bing $104.62.

“As retailers vie to get their share of holiday spending, there is a tremendous opportunity to respond to the different ways that people are shopping on their sites,” says David Selinger, the CEO of RichRelevance. “The ones who succeed will be those who most effectively wrap the e-commerce experience around each shopper, whether they come from Facebook or Google or a direct e-mail link.”

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