We analyzed 7+ billion shopping sessions. What we found will surprise you. (Hint: Desktop is far from dead…)

By Marc Hummel

July 7, 2016

I’ll cut right to the chase.

Desktop PCs still dominate ecommerce.

You can stop reading now. Don’t finish reading this post. Log into the UI of your ecommerce platform and turn off the responsive version of your online store. Delete your mobile app from the app store. Get rid of your multichannel ecommerce team.

That is, if you’re OK sticking with the simple version of the story.

Of course, reality is a bit more complicated.

As part of our quarterly report of ecommerce benchmarks, we created a comprehensive look-back window of more than six million purchases (and 7+ billion sessions) made across the Monetate platform. And this sample is no small potatoes: it represents more brands in the IR 500 than any other personalization and optimization platform. We found that 90% of the people in our sample used a desktop to begin their online shopping journey. And 99% of that subset completed their purchase on a desktop computer.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all desktop all the time. The data we analyzed show that multichannel ecommerce is a real, albeit complex thing. A lot of it has something to do with that precious resource we all tend to squander: time.

While desktop computers account for the majority of online shopping sessions (75% of our sample), their time in the spotlight is limited. Desktop usage peaks during work hours (8am–4pm). Its share of page views never drops below 75% and peaks at 84% (at about 2pm).

Outside those hours, desktop remains strong, but mobile devices and tablets account for roughly 40–45% of page view shares during commuting hours, early mornings, and late nights. Mobile hits its peak popularity in the early morning hours and tablet in the late evening hours. (Mobile always maintains more traffic share than tablet.)

Device type graph

There’s a good reason to pay attention to these figures, and especially to which device is the first one used in the purchase process. That’s because the first device used is (more often than not) also the device that gets used to complete the purchase.

  • When browsing starts on a desktop, 99% of those sessions convert on desktop.
  • When browsing starts on a phone, 64% of those sessions convert on phone.
  • When browsing starts on a tablet, 84% of those sessions convert on a tablet.

With these insights in hand, you could tailor the shopping experience to your customer’s innate behaviors. And since the data we analyzed are averages of many ecommerce retailers, your unique customer base is likely to exhibit different behaviors.

Not to get all knowledge-is-powery on you, but the more you know about what your customers want from you and when and how they want it, the better you can optimize the shopping experience for conversion and convenience. And as our latest ecommerce benchmark report demonstrates, you can really make some small optimizations that can have a big impact on your business.

So go ahead and download your copy of the report now. We answer:

  • Where do buyers begin and end their journey and how important is one channel vs. the other?
  • How does desktop compare to mobile when it comes to average order values and pages/session?
  • How a premium fashion brand uses cross-channel experiences to increase AOV and conversion rates.

Marc Hummel is a former Content Marketing Associate for Monetate. He's also a part-time grad student at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys biking to work, reading, listening to podcasts/music, and eating ice cream. Usually not all at once. For more about Marc, go here.

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