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Onsite Search Drives Sales, Cart Abandonment Unabated

  |  November 3, 2004   |  Comments

Shoppers spend less time on more pages, and onsite search queries convert more than ever.

The Q3 2004 "E-Commerce Site Trend Report" from DoubleClick reports online shoppers look at 33.8 percent more pages (10.3 pages in 2004, vs.7.7 in 2003) this year than last. While they may be looking at more, they're spending a bit less time on commerce sites (0.5 minutes, a 10 percent decline), averaging only 4.4 minutes per session. This decline represents a 14 second (32.6 percent) decline in time spent per individual page, from 43 seconds last year to 29 seconds in 2004. One potential reason for the drop, according to the report, is the increase in broadband users, which has risen to over half the U.S. online population.

Cart abandonment continues to be a problem for online retailers though it appears to be leveling off. In Q3 2004, 57 percent of shoppers abandoned carts without purchasing, a 7 percent increase over the same period last year. From a lost revenue perspective, cart abandonment grew 7.9 percent this calendar year. This translates into $4.10 left in abandoned carts for every dollar actually spent on an e-commerce transaction. That figure is on the way down from a Q4 2003 high of $6.30. Users who returned to abandoned carts represented 26 percent of all sales, which DoubleClick notes is a decline from Q2 2003, when it was 36 percent.

With shoppers spending less time per page and abandoning carts in the virtual aisles, you might expect less overall conversion. Not so, according to the stats. There was a 63 percent gain in the percentage of visitors who made a purchase in a given session, from 2.8 percent in 2003 to 4.6 percent in 2004. Average revenue per visit was also up (33.5 percent) to $4.26 from $3.19 last year.

Getting Shoppers Through
The Checkout is Final
Step in Conversion
Year Quarter Checkout
Conversion
Q2 2003 59%
Q3 2003 59%
Q4 2003 59%
Q1 2004 52%
Q2 2004 58%
Q3 2004 63%
Source: DoubleClick Q3 2004 E-Commerce
Trend Report

Site search functionality continues to prove its value to online retailers. In 2003, 6.6 percent of total sales came via onsite search. In 2004, that number swelled dramatically, to 9.3 percent (a 40.9 percent increase).

Onsite Search is Driving More
Valuable Purchases
Year Quarter Search Average
Order Value
Q2 2003 $75
Q3 2003 $100
Q4 2003 $91
Q1 2004 $113
Q2 2004 $111
Q3 2004 $126
Source: DoubleClick Q3 2004
E-Commerce Trend Report

"While onsite search usage stayed the same, onsite search sales increased with a 13 percent increase in onsite search AOV [average order value]," DoubleClick's Richard Fleck, director of strategic services, told ClickZ.

"Onsite search AOV still trails overall site AOV, but this increase shows onsite search AOV is catching up," Fleck added. "Which is good news for marketers, as onsite search is quickly becoming a standard and effective tool for online shoppers."

According to a new projection from Jupiter Research (which shares a parent company with ClickZ), 2004 holiday online sales will be robust. The firm is projects a 19 percent increase in sales over last year, for a total of $21.6 billion. Growth is driven by more U.S. online users (up 18 percent over 2003) as well as a projected 2 percent increase in the amount each buyer will spend.

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