According to a recent retailer study of online shopping habits, customers are shopping more online, but are spending less time on each retailer site and looking at fewer general pages before reaching product pages. When the changes in consumer behavior between May 2007 and May 2008 are examined, several interesting trends emerge.
In nearly all instances, two key metrics decreased year-over-year in the retail index and several retail sub-verticals: average time spent on site and number of page views per session. At the same time, the number of product page views per session remained relatively unchanged.
One logical conclusion to be drawn from the study is that online shopping is becoming more efficient. Customers are still viewing the same number of product pages, but do so much more quickly and by visiting fewer general pages. Web sites that do not guide customers to product pages quickly risk frustrating them and losing sales to the competition.
The increased efficiency in online shopping becomes even more apparent when comparing the percentage of visitor sessions that included browsing activities, such as visiting product pages; carting activities, such as adding items to the shopping cart; and ordering activities, such as completing the transaction online. All three types of activities increased between 2007 and 2008. But what’s more striking is the fact that the carting and ordering activities grew faster than browsing activities.
So what does all this mean? If your Web site does not excel at pushing customers through the conversion funnel by providing easier navigation and better product matches through Web page optimization and on-site search, then you’ll lose customers to Web sites that do.
The upcoming holiday season will surely be impacted by the downturn in the US economy. Retailers will face serious challenges. To be competitive, they will need to enable their online visitors to efficiently find what they want and easily navigate the online purchasing process.
Retailers still have time left before the holiday season arrives but they need to focus on taking action now — it will require creating highly streamlined and targeted sites to convert today’s evolved customers weathering a wobbly economy.