Despite ebbing and flowing throughout the year, search is still one of the main drivers to e-commerce sites. Indeed, per a report [pdf] from Episerver, over 2018 and 2019, organic search was consistently the largest source of traffic, accounting for 19% to 27% of traffic in any given month, while paid search brought in between 14% and 18% of visitors.
Although search continues to bring in the most traffic to the 160 retail sites used in the analysis, email appears to have lost out to social over the same two-year period. Email-referred traffic appears to have declined, while by October last year social’s share of referral traffic was double what it had been in January 2018. D2C brands in particular seem to be generating plenty of customers from their social media efforts.
Devices: Mobile Continues to Rise as Tablets Falter
Previous data from Comscore showed that the majority of e-commerce dollars are still spent using desktops. However, that’s a function more of desktop’s higher conversion rate than it’s presence as a traffic driver. Instead it’s mobile that continues to bring more visitors to retail websites. Per the analysis, by November 2019 mobile accounted for 59% of sessions to online retail sites, up from the 42% share it held in January 2017.
While desktop is still holding its own, accounting for more than one-third (37% share) of total sessions in November 2019, tablets have accounted for a steadily declining share of visits to retail sites. In fact, between January 2017 and November 2019, tablet’s share of sessions decreased by almost three-quarters (16% to 4.2%), as the bigger mobile screen was cannibalized by the smaller one.
Conversions: Desktop and Tablet Remain Strong
Although mobile accounts for a larger share of traffic, it still lags behind desktop and tablet when it comes to conversions. In 2019, desktops and tablets led with conversion rates of 3.2% and 3.1%, respectively, while mobile’s conversion rate was 2.1%.
That said, mobile’s conversions rate has slowly been increasing over the past couple of years, growing from 1.7% in 2017 and 2.0% in 2018 as more consumers grow comfortable using their devices for shopping.
At the same time, the average annual conversion rate for tablets is below figures from 2017 (3.4%) and 2018 (3.3%), while desktop’s conversion rate has experienced some fluctuation (2017: 3.5%, 2018: 2.9%).
Referral Traffic Converts Best
When it comes to conversions by channel, referrals saw a lift from 2.4% in 2018 to 3% in 2019 to be the top channel by conversion rate last year. Paid and organic search remain consistently strong performers, although both channels experienced a dip in conversion rate to 2.6% in 2019. Email’s conversion rate, on the other hand, increased slightly to 2.5%.
By contrast, even though social accounts for more traffic than email, it doesn’t convert as well (1.1% in 2019) — a point marketers should bear in mind, particularly as they increase spend on Instagram.
The full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Results are based on an analysis of billions of shopping sessions across 160 websites that use Episerver.