Online Merchants Show Strong Signs of Growth in Q3

October 18, 2012

Online merchants have reason for optimism heading into this holiday season, finds MarketLive [download page] in an October report. During the third quarter – which included back-to-school and Labor Day activity – the merchants tracked by MarketLive on a same-site basis recorded a 13% year-over-year increase in visits and a 16% rise in revenue. In another healthy sign, the cart abandonment rate dropped by 2% to 62.5%. Still, there is some room to grow as these merchants focus in on the holiday season. In Q3, the “1-and-out rate,” which measures the percentage of visits ending after just one page, grew by 4.5% to almost 38%. This rate has been on a steady upward climb, which signals that merchants must do a better job of meeting shoppers’ needs in an increasingly competitive environment.

Other performance metrics dipped, but by a relatively smaller proportion that are unlikely to cause too much concern. Conversion rates dropped 2.3% to 3.8%, while the engagement rate was down a marginal 0.5% to about 10.1%.

Results Tempered For Overall Index

While the merchants tracked on a same-site basis posted significant improvements in key areas, those same trends weren’t apparent when factoring in all the other sites in the MarketLive index. Comparing the performance of all sites in the index in Q3 2011 with all the sites from Q2 2011, conversion rate dropped 20.5% to 3.6%, while “1 and out” visits grew by 7.2% and the engagement rate dropped by 7.2%. Only the cart abandonment rate stayed steady, at 61.6%.

Overall, the average order size for these online merchants was $155.39, breaking down to an average revenue per visit of $5.04.

SocNet Referral Traffic Grows Q-O-Q

While social networks still provide just a fractional amount of traffic to the merchants who comprise the MarketLive index, that percentage grew on a quarter-over-quarter basis, up 82% from 0.97% share to 1.77% share of customer acquisition sources.

Search engines remained the king of referrals, contributing almost 39% of traffic to these online merchants. While that figure was basically unchanged from Q2, it signals the continuing dominance of search engines as a customer acquisition source for online retailers.

Other Findings:

  • Breaking the merchants down into 5 categories, MarketLive finds that in Q3, the share of traffic referred by social networks was largest for the housewares and furniture category, at 4.44%.
  • The average order size was largest for the apparel, footwear, and accessories category, at $217.51. That likely is a result of the back-to-school season, with earlier survey results having shown an increase in planned spending on shoes and clothing.
  • The apparel, footwear and accessories category also boasted the highest conversion rate (5%), while brick-and-mortar retailers saw the lowest, at just 1.76%.

About the Data: The MarketLive quarterly report examined Q3 performance data from more than 100 retail sites.


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