Average Ecommerce Conversion Rates

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  • September 24, 2009

Over the last couple of years the world has become a lot more focussed on maximising conversion rates and it’s a fascinating subject. Helping somebody increase their conversion rate from 1% to 2% and doubling their entire revenue in the process is pretty satisfying.

The main thing to remember with conversion rate optimisation is that not all industries are the same and there is no such thing as an “average conversion rate”. The chart below shows some of the leading performers on the web in terms of conversion rates and probably has a lot of you mentally calculating how much money your site would make with 35% conversion to sales!

Top retailers by conversion rate

We see conversion rates dropping down significantly for higher priced items, sometimes below 1%. Conversely lower priced items and last minute purchases such as flowers & gifts tend to attract sky high conversion rates.

Conversion rates do of course vary depending on the source of the traffic and a site with lot’s of brand search traffic will do better on average than a site relying on SEO for traffic. Likewise a really successful SEO campaign can actually lower conversion rates by sending irrelevant traffic so it’s important to take this into account and look at the bottom line rather than worry that the actual rate of conversions is a bit low.

Coremetrics publishes some interesting aggregate data showing that the average conversion rate across all industries in the UK is 3.04% with conversion rates from natural search slightly higher at 3.16% for March 2009.

Coremetrics UK conversion rates

Another interesting piece of information from Coremetrics is that shopping cart abandonment stands at 50.1% in the UK compared to 65.61% in the US. Why do people add items to their cart and then never proceed to purchase? People in the US people are buying 5.8 items per order compared to only 2.3 in the UK so does this make them more afraid to make the purchase?

Coremetrics US conversion rates


Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • http://www.tango.qc.ca Marc Poulin from Montreal

    It is always interesting to have actual statistics about conversion rates. You also explain why these rates vary based on client and product price. What I would have liked to see is how a site can improve his conversion rates. What are the main factors? Is it the navigation to find products, the user interface in general, the check-out process?

    Many years ago, I redid from scratch an e-commerce site and put a lot of emphasis on navigation and the user interface. Immediately, sales more than doubled with no advertising.

    • http://www.blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

      Improving conversion rates will be dealt with in some other posts.

  • http://www.seewhy.com Charles Nicholls

    Thanks for posting this.
    Unless I’m missing something here, I don’t see how you can draw the conclusion about the differences between the UK and US based on the data in the charts. You state that: “shopping cart abandonment stands at 52% in the UK compared to just 35% in the US.”

    The data in the charts suggests that shopping cart abandonment in the UK is 50.1% in March 09, and 65.61% in the US. This is in line with other sources of data. For example we track shopping cart abandonment rates in the US and are currently showing 63% on average.

    I always caution people about comparing their conversion rate with industry numbers. Ecommerce businesses are very diverse, and the rates differ considerably between sectors. But it’s also important to consider how this data is collected: conversion rates vary considerably within sectors simply because companies calculate website conversion slightly differently. This applies to all industry data including the Coremetrics data cited here.

    To illustrate the point, try moving the top of your conversion funnel to an earlier page in the process, and you’ll see your abandonment rate jump. Move it lower and it will fall dramatically. Your rate hasn’t breally changed, just what you are measuring.

    What is more useful is to look at your own conversion rate over time, and see how changes you are making to the site are affecting it.
    To Marc’s comment, I’ve written several blogs on why people abandon shopping carts, and what you can do about it here.

    • http://www.blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

      Charles I got the figures the wrong way round on that, fixed now.

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  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Luci

    Hi and thanks for the post. From looking at the top 10 online retailers, I can’t see any that strike me as particularly prevalent in the UK? As such, the figures provided further down in the posts seem a little disconnected without anything to link them to. Do you have any conversion rates for major UK online retailers?

  • http://www.contemposuits.com stacy adams

    I average between 1-2 percent selling mens fashion suits and apparel. I really don’t know how I could lift it higher

  • http://www.tag44.com tag44

    Thanks for sharing the e-commerce conversion rates, i really in search for the same.

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  • http://www.crackle.com/c/Bewitched bewitched

    This is so informative. have tou tried Business catalyst?

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