How Irish shoppers' online habits can teach retailers to make more sales

Getting customers onto your site is only part of the battle.

By Alan Coleman CEO, Wolfgang Digital

ONLINE CONSUMERS ARE demanding more information before they buy and they want that information now – but they aren’t inclined to buy on impulse.

Those are some of the interesting online buyer insights from our annual Wolfgang Digital Ecommerce KPI Benchmark Study.

We dug deep to analyse 143 million online sessions over a 12-month period. From this data, we uncovered insights into people’s online behaviour, which are not only interesting but useful for businesses to shape their online strategy heading towards 2018.

How people shop online

Our study found that the average online shopper will visit a website between two and three times before buying.

In 2017, it takes 12% more clicks for online e-commerce sites to make a million euro than it did last year – 360,775 clicks to be exact.

The longer people stay on-site, the more likely they are to make a purchase. So quality content that hooks people in is a must if selling online.

The flip side of the ‘time coin’ is that people are an impatient bunch when it comes to getting what they want.

Most cannot abide a slow website, which is a really interesting contrast with the offline shopper, who’ll tolerate traffic lights, car parks, trolleys, crowds and queues to make a purchase.

The online shopper, however, will quickly leave if there is a three-second load time between them and their purchase. The general guideline is that sites should load within two seconds.

And when our analysis shows the average page load speed to be an enormous six seconds, it’s time for website owners to sit up and take notice.

Another interesting contrast is retailer loyalty. While the offline shopper is brand loyal but not necessarily retailer loyal, the online shopper is fiercely loyal to the retailers who have their card details and addresses stored and where they’ve been through the delivery and returns policy.

Our research found that ‘direct traffic’, which is full of repeat customers, was more likely to result in a purchase.

Surprise performers

Google remains very much at the centre of the 2017 e-commerce story. Our study found that 62% of people are finding websites through Google and 63% of website revenue originates on the world’s most popular search engine.

Our findings show that people trust the websites that Google returns upon entering a search query. We saw that websites with higher-than-average Google organic traffic enjoyed much stronger sales from visitors.

The search giant is still the consumer’s window to the web, however the degree of its dominance is in decline as others start to steal some of the limelight.

Websites with higher-than-average traffic from Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, had shoppers who parted with more money per purchase. For brands, Bing is often a cheaper route for online advertising and can bring bigger return on a smaller investment.

Bing has introduced a clever innovation in which you can migrate your Google AdWords campaign to Bing with one click. Clever tech from a brand that knows its place.

The surprise performer of the digital media platforms was Pinterest. Our study found that the public generally spends more money per purchase when they visit a website via the platform.

Generally speaking, big-spend purchases are closely related to plenty of research before buying.

People are using Pinterest to plan a wedding, design a living room, or pin a pair of pumps. Rather than being a social network, Pinterest is a search engine. And our research shows it’s driving purchases with the power of a search engine.

Online behaviour is always evolving

Each year, we bring all this data together using Google Analytics, a great piece of technology that helps businesses better understand how visitors interact with their websites.

However, today’s online community is evolving at such an incredible rate that Google’s data tracking can sometimes struggle to keep up. This leads to traffic that’s difficult to pin an origin on, something we refer to as ‘dark traffic’.

This has been on the increase as people spend more time on social media, leading to more social traffic to e-commerce websites from Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

However changes are afoot, with Google due to enhance its reporting by the end of the year to better account for this ‘dark traffic’. It will be interesting to see how far the web giant goes in revealing the true nature of people’s online behavior.

Alan Coleman is CEO of Wolfgang Digital and author of the firm’s E-Commerce Benchmarks Study 2017.

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