Of all of the ecommerce benchmarks reports we’ve shared, the launch of the Q4 2020: Ecommerce Quarterly Benchmarks report may be the most anticipated. Q4 2020 marked the first holiday shopping season after the pandemic moved millions of shoppers online, and it showed. As usual, the EQ provides a wide range of benchmark metrics from website visits to Average Order Value (AOV). We look at this data across regions and channels to help retailers compare their own performance to their peers.
The EQ delivers a fresh, relevant perspective that will help retailers build new, more accurate benchmarks that more accurately reflect consumer behaviors that are likely here to stay.
Some of the big shifts we saw in Q4 2020 were:
- More desktop and tablet activity globally and in the United States year over year (YOY); while mobile activity slowed in both regions.
- While U.K. mobile activity registered at the highest levels since Q4 of 2019 in Q4 of 2020.
For more shits across our key metrics (website visits, average page views, bounce rate, conversion rate, and Average Order Value (AOV)), read on. Or download our report for the full index.
Website Visits From Tablets Saw a Boost
Website visits in Q4 were generally up YOY, with a clear uptick in tablet-based visits globally and in U.S. markets, probably indicating lockdown changed device activity away from mobile. This shift could be explained by the number of people spending less time on the go.
However, in the United Kingdom, people upped their mobile visits YOY, showing their highest percentage of mobile use since Q4 of 2019. This shows that using benchmarks is important, rather than making blanket assumptions, as different audiences adapted to their new circumstances with different changes in behaviors.
Q4 Ecommerce Benchmarks Report Shows Average Page Views Took a Hit
One change we did notice across the board was that page views fell YOY. In the United States, page views ticked up a bit on desktop but were down on mobile, while they were down across the board in the United Kingdom and globally.
There were many factors at work that could explain this change in behavior: Shorter shopping journeys could be the result of people becoming more efficient online shoppers—buying more day-to-day items more quickly, for example. Or it could have been because of increased product stockouts, bargain shopping, or retailers altering their customer journeys to reduce the number of pages people needed to navigate to checkout.
Bounce Rate Improved Across Email and Other Key Channels
We also logged a jump in bounce rates across direct channels. This indicates that there were a lot of people quickly visiting the site, perhaps hunting for bargains during the holiday season. This connects with consumer data showing that brand loyalty has lessened during COVID.
The good news, however, is that on email, search, and social channels, bounce rate improved, indicating that the testing, optimization and personalization happening for Kibo Personalization clients across those key lead generation channels brings in engaged shoppers.
Decrease in Conversion Rates Reflects Yearly Downtrend
Of course, the most important element for many retailers is the sale itself. The Q4 2020: Ecommerce Quarterly Benchmarks report indicates that conversion rates were down YOY in Q4, with no real gains made in the United States or globally throughout 2020. U.K. retailers meanwhile did see an uptick in desktop conversion throughout 2020. This props up the same story as the one told by the increase bounce rates and shorter page sessions. Overall, traffic volume going up means that people increased their bargain hunting and comparison shopping, creating a bit more noise for retailers to sift through.
While that volume increase made conversion rates go down in the short term, it’s a scenario that allows retailers to at least capture new data on more visitors, which can be used for personalization efforts that can serve to drive longer sessions and more conversions in the future.
Broken down by device, the only real progress was made across Chrome OS and Linux.
AOV Served As Shining Star
Happily for many retailers, AOV made nice gains YOY across all categories, from direct to email, search and social. With people at home, online shopping hit record highs in 2020. AOV also went up globally and in the United Kingdom by a good amount, although it dropped a bit in the United States.
In addition to increases in new types of online purchases like grocery, it’s possible that some of the higher value items that people would normally go into a store to touch and feel in person made it into their virtual shopping carts instead.
Any variation region by region could reflect a different mix in shopping types (from grocery to luxury, for example.)
However, in the United States, only four states (Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) showed an improved AOV in Q4 compared to the same quarter last year. Could be correlation and not causation, but those four just happened to be the four states that were getting pounded by their first pronounced COVID wave during October, November, and December, as per charts in The New York Times. Despite lax regulations, and reported disregard for masks and lockdowns, did most shoppers lean on ecommerce for large purchases during holiday season to avoid COVID?
Respond to Evolving Customer Behaviors With Ecommerce Benchmarks
As this particular ecommerce benchmarks report illustrates, the elevated online shopping that happened this past holiday season has a lot of nuance to it. Some metrics like average page views decreased, while others, like AOV, increased. The most important lesson is that brands need to keep a close eye on shopper trends, and segment their insights across many variables such as region, category, operating system, and more. With these different elements broken out, retailers have what they need to create effective tests that can help increase performance through better product recommendations and better checkout experiences.
The Q4 ecommerce benchmarks report offers a comprehensive snapshot, but it’s really just the foundation for brands to start their own journey, understanding their own online performance and how it evolves along with their customers’ changing behaviors.