Returning shoppers spend almost twice as much online as new visitors, Monetate report shows

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Monetate, a leading experience marketing platform for brands worldwide, has found that returning shoppers spent very nearly double online (66%) than new visitors (34%) following the close of the 2015 holiday period. This new wealth of data on shopper behaviours, both new and returning, comes from Monetate’s latest global Ecommerce Quarterly report (EQ4).

Analysing a random sample of more than seven billion online shopping experiences, the report explored the age old conundrum – do marketers focus on finding new visitors, or focus on new ways to target their existing ones? Monetate EQ4 strives to answer this question using real-world personalisation examples from leading brand, Waitrose, as well as looking at best practices for driving both customer acquisition and retention.

Add-to-basket rates

Basket rates are a key performance indicator for all brands and data from the ecommerce quarterly discovered that new visitors are half as likely as returning visitors to add an item to their basket. This was found to be nearly universal across all varying devices and referral channels. In Q4 2015, returning visitors, on average, added an item to their basket 15% of the time whereas new visitors, on average, added to their basket roughly 8% of the time.

There were, of course, some exceptions, with new visitors using mobiles to shop only adding items to their baskets in around 4% of sessions, versus 10% of sessions for returning shoppers. The trend also saw some differences when it came to visitors reaching sites from social networks, with new customers only adding items to their basket 4% of the time, compared to 9% for returning buyers.

Bounce rates

On the whole, bounce rates were up slightly year-on-year, with 2015’s final quarter seeing a percentage of 30 compared to 2014’s 29%. However, unlike add-to-basket rates, the difference in bounce rates between new and returning visitors varied significantly depending on specific visitor circumstances.

Looking at devices used to shop; mobile still appeared to be lagging behind when it came to the global average: 37% of mobile shoppers in Q4 bounced from the site they were visiting. Compared with the 26% and 28% bounce rates of those other desktop or tablets, its clear mobile still has certain challenges to overcome. However, for retailers to truly tackle bounce rates, they should be aiming for a singular website offering, regardless of the device being used and whether it be for browsing or for finalising a purchase at the check-out page.

Conversion rates

As expected, the holiday season contributed to solid conversion rates in the year’s final quarter. On a whole, conversion rates averaged at 3.5%, the highest rate in Monetate’s 12-month analysis.

Device performance saw across-the-board, year-over-year gains (even if modest), while email and search both saw growth as referral channels. New visitor conversion rates trailer retuning customers in every way imaginable. The average new visitor conversion rate for Q4 was 2.5%, with desktop visitors the only segment within the new visitor category to break the 3% conversion rate barrier.

“Customer retention and acquisition don’t have to be two parallel lines that never meet – every business needs to balance the two,” said Lucinda Duncalfe, CEO at Monetate. “This struggle for balance leaves many marketers asking, ‘Where do I focus my efforts so they make the most impact?’” Duncalfe continues, “Of all the questions, the most critical answer is, ‘do I invest time and money acquiring new customers, or do I focus on retaining the customers I already have and personalise their experiences? At Monetate, we ask, ‘Why choose?’”