Of all visitors to e-commerce sites, 38.6% are there to research products and prices, and to gather information, though just 85% are able to complete this task successfully.

This is one if the findings of an iPerceptions e-commerce survey, suggesting that improvements in navigation and usability can have a significant impact on sales.

The survey of US online shoppers use data from 360,000 visitors to 160 websites, looking at task completion and satisfaction rates. Here are a few highlights from the survey:

Purpose of visit

  • While 38.6% arrive at an e-commerce site for research, 21.9% are there to 'shop', and just 76.9% manage to complete this task.
  • More worrying for etailers is that, while 17.2% arrive at a site with the intention of making a purchase, the completion rate is just 61.5%.
  • 13.9% arrive looking for customer service support, but 21.5% are unable to find what they are looking for.

Barriers to purchase

  • Of the shoppers who arrived at a site with the intention of making a purchase, the reasons given for failure to complete this task were:
  • Unable to find what I wanted (34%), price issues (13%), navigation and usability (13%), shipping policies (9%).
  • Other reasons given included lack of product variety and product information.

Path to website

  • 39.7% arrived at a website by typing in the URL, 27.1% via a search engine, 9.4% through an email link, 7.9% from a bookmark, and 7% from another site. 

From these figures it seems that, while the vast majority of website visitors manage to perform tasks such as product research, the task completion rate drops off the nearer they get to to actually making a purchase. 

While there are some things that retailers cannot control, they need to make navigation as easy as possible so that customers who arrive with the intention to buy are not deterred by poor usability.

This includes making products easy to find, providing easily accessible price and delivery information, and avoiding any unnecessary friction in the checkout process.

Graham Charlton

Published 2 November, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (4)


Justin March

There is too much focus on the online purchase aspect many users require guidance especially if the products are being purchased for a business.  I often see sites without helpdesk or other numbers open for the visitor to call, bad mistake IMHO. 

over 8 years ago


Facebook Applications

I really like your provided figures about visitors to e-commerce sites in research and i am surprised that 39.7% are coming direct to the website and the rest are coming from other resources.

over 8 years ago



Some other interesting factoids from a recent e-tailing group study ("comparison shopping is a way of life")

 - 94% of online shoppers invest time to find the lowest price

- 51% of online shoppers visit 4+ sites, 95% visit at least 2 sites

More interesting is that when presented with onsite comparative pricing (OCP) 53% of consumers said they would no longer feel compelled to comparison shop elsewhere.

over 8 years ago


Shopping Cart Software

Truly great stats and great resource to use this information.

Here is a GREAT TIP and we may try it ourselves is IF you do have the lowest price on a certain item, PUT IT in that item so people who do research, which is more (94% is a high figure) and that will eliminate half the research price wise for that product.

over 8 years ago

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