What is a good conversion rate for e-commerce?

You will get two different answers to the questions “what is an average/good conversion rate for e-commerce?” First, the answer to what an average conversion rate is according to research. And then the answer to what a good conversion rate is.

Conversion rates for different e-commerce industries.

Ok, let’s start at looking at the average e-commerce conversion rates from Monetate, both globally and for the US and the UK:

Conversion rate ecommerce average

If you came here wondering what a “good” conversion rate for e-commerce is, and wanna know why the above numbers don’t really matter, continue reading.

Averages lies

You have maybe heard the quote “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” by Benjamin Disraeli. There are several problems with looking at the numbers above.

Let’s start by asking some questions:

What kind of e-commerce have you got? Is it retail? Clothing? Electronics? Are you in travel? SaaS? The conversion rates might vary widely in different industries; for example, a typical retail conversion rate is different from a typical SaaS conversion rate.

Let’s say you find the average for your industry. What will you do with that number? It wouldn’t matter if you were above or under the average because you would probably wanna improve anyway, right?

Let’s look at some more averages.

conversion rate by device

Here you see the average conversion rate for desktop, tablet, and mobile.

What does this say? Well for once it says that the conversion rate is much lower for mobile. Why is that? It is normal for people to use the mobile to browse an e-commerce site, and then use their desktop or laptop to buy; so the “actual” conversion rates for mobile are higher.

But, out of these statistics, how many of the e-commerce sites has a website that works properly on a tablet or a phone? If 50% of the sites in these averages doesn’t have a mobile-optimized site then these numbers are totally off for someone who does has a mobile optimized site.

From my experience, I know that almost half as many conversions on mobile compared to a desktop is too low, (even with a mobile optimized site), and if my e-commerce looked like the averages here I would dig deeper in Google Analytics to try to find what the problems are.

Why the overall conversion rate is not that interesting

Let me illustrate with an example why your overall conversion rates are not the only numbers you should look at:

Example day 1: 5% conversion rate. (4000 visits, 200 sales)
Example day 2: 10% conversion rate. (500 visits, 50 sales)

If we only looked at the conversion rates here, day 2 would look better. But if the extra visitors you got on day 1 came for a low cost or no extra cost then day 1 is obviously the best.

Money-matters

Return On Investment is the most important

This shows why the conversion rate alone is not a good KPI, (Key Performance Indicator).

What to look at instead

You wanna start by asking what your specific, segmented conversions rates are like. You wanna ask questions like:

What is my conversion rate:

  • For desktop/tablet/mobile?
  • For different devices?
  • Between different browser versions?
  • For new/return customers?
  • Search traffic vs. other sources?
  • Different states/countries/cities?
  • What is the bounce and exit rate for specific pages?
  • How many pages views per session?

Let’s look at a real example from a site.

conversion rate countries

Here the conversion rate is 3.84%. And I have sorted it by countries with the worst converting countries first. (I excluded countries with less than 100 transactions to get some statistical significance).

We see that some countries, like Hungary, has a really low conversion rate. Maybe this is the case in general, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved.

We also see that the UK has a conversion rate lower than both the average, and the US, which is weird. Also, remember the statistics above saying the UK should have higher conversion rates than the US?

Okay, now when we have seen this list. Why does it matter? What could we do to improve things?

Well, one theory could be that visitors from some of these countries do not buy because they are not sure if the e-commerce site really ships to their country. So we could give the visitors from Hungary or the U.K a message saying “Hey! We ship to Hungary/The U.K!”.

We could also choose non-English countries that has a lot of transactions but a low conversion rate, and translate it into their language.

For this specific e-commerce site that has $1 million in revenue we are talking around $150.000 in extra revenue if we could increase the conversion rates for the low converting countries. Not too bad.

What needs to be done is more CRO research so that we can try to find the reason to why some countries do not convert, and then set up a test for that. But you can now see why that 3.84% number really did not matter: what was important was to dive deeper and segment.

Conclusion

The most important factor for an e-commerce is not the average conversion rate numbers, but rather the segmenting. Know what to look for and you can always improve your conversion rates.

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