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Monetate is out with its latest quarterly e-commerce benchmarks report [download page] for Q2 2017, and this edition highlights the behaviors of shoppers who make repeat purchases at e-commerce sites. Here are a few interesting takeaways from the analysis of more than 140 million purchases over the past year.

1. The Majority of First-Time Customers Take A Single Session to Complete Their Purchase

Monetate reveals a “surprising amount of urgency among first-time shoppers,” noting that a slight majority (52%) require only a single shopping session to complete their first purchase.

On average, though, first-time customers take 3.5 shopping sessions and 25 days to complete their first transaction. That’s still faster than repeat purchasers: returning customers take an average of 32 days to make their second purchase. After that, those making their third and fourth purchases require progressively more sessions but less time to make those transactions.

Customers arriving from search demonstrate the fastest purchase behavior, taking an average of 22 days to complete their first transaction. Social traffic and direct traffic, by comparison, each take about 4 sessions and 28 days. And while email drives repeat visitors, email traffic is the most deliberate, taking 4.2 sessions and 34 days on average to complete their first transaction.

2. Loyalty and Engagement Increase Together

It seems logical that loyal customers would display more engagement with e-commerce sites, but here’s some data to back it up.

Customers making their first purchase average about a week (7 days) between sessions, per the report. But the amount of time elapsing between sessions gets shorter the more purchases the customer makes: those returning for a second purchase average a new session every 5.5 days, while those returning for a third purchase average a new session every 4 days.

For customers making a fourth purchase, the time between sessions is just 3.5 days.

These patterns explain why repeat purchasers average progressively more sessions but less time between transactions.

3. The Desktop Becomes More Important Over Time

Research has time and again shown that smartphone conversion rates lag conversion rates on desktops and laptops, making desktop visitors more valuable than smartphone visitors.

Monetate’s data reveals that the desktop actually gains in prominence the more loyal the customer.

In fact, while desktops account for 64.2% of purchases by first-timers, that figure increases to more than 2 in 3 purchases for those who are returning for their third transaction. Furthermore, desktops’ share of purchases continues to incrementally grow the more purchases a customer makes.

Desktops’ prominence in transaction behavior is impressive when considering that these devices account for just 42% of e-commerce traffic.

By contrast, smartphones (46% of global e-commerce traffic) fall from more than one-fifth (21.4%) of purchases for first-time customers to about one-eighth (12.8%) among those making their 10th purchase.

It’s not just desktops picking up the slack: tablets actually become more popular the more loyal the customer, per Monetate’s report.

As a result, Monetate argues that while addressing the “smartphone conversion gap” is important, e-commerce retailers should concentrate on optimizing the desktop commerce experience rather than trying to change consumer behaviors.

The full report – including benchmarks and recommendations – can be downloaded here.

More research about e-commerce customers can be found in this article: 5 Things to Know About E-Commerce Customer Retention.

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