Sep 7, 2022, Business

Average ecommerce conversion rate – what is it and what it depends on

John Oxley Business Consultant
Man in fear
One of the most important key indicators that your ecommerce business is thriving is a good conversion rate, the percentage of buyers by session. If the ecommerce conversion rate is not so good, you need to analyze your website and statistics and try to improve your customer experience.

Consumers are much more conversant with technology and mobile devices than ever before, and it shows in their purchasing habits.

If a website takes more than 4 seconds to complete the desired action, it’s history and the consumer goes to the next one.

If a product is too difficult to find, the website will get another bounce statistic.

Finally, if your website promotes products in a really broad market, you’re going to need to stand out from the competition to find customers.

What is an ecommerce conversion rate?

It’s a mathematical formula, an important tool to work out the percentage of buyers who visit a website against site visitors.

A session is one visit, and if a person visits three times, it means three sessions. The formula doesn’t differentiate between individual customers, but it is the most accurate way to get the conversion rate information.


Let’s imagine that a small website has 200 sessions in a 7 day period, with 20 orders placed by purchasing customers.

20 orders divided by 200 sessions, then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage = 1% conversion rate.

Across the ecommerce industry

The average conversion rate across all sectors of the industry is around 2.35%, but there are some high performance companies that are topping 5% or more, with others that are really struggling to make 1%.

In the example above, 1% is on the low side, but it also depends on the product categories being offered to website visitors.

If a product is expensive, and sells 20 times each week, then 1% appears to be a good conversion rate.

It is important not to compare your business with the average score. When you start selling online, you need to focus on your chosen sector to get a clear idea of how you’re doing against your competitors.

As your business grows, visitors converted to customers will increase your average conversion rate.

The ideal situation is to have high conversion rates with expensive products!

Possible causes of a conversion rate drop

Replatforming gone wrong

Perhaps you recently switched from one ecommerce platform to another, in order to get a firmer grip on data analysis, and improve ecommerce conversion rates and the overall performance of your business. 

A new design or layout might catch long serving customers unawares, and they might not appreciate the new look of an old friend. Many people, especially the older generation, don’t like change and find it difficult to get to grips with.

Imagine going to the market every Saturday for the same provisions, you know where they are and you can zip in and out in a short time. Then, for no reason, the market decides to change the store format and the shelves hold entirely different products. Confusion and dissatisfaction abound.

You don’t really want to do that to your ecommerce site, but sometimes it is impossible to avoid and therefore your traffic might take a hit.

Luxury products

If your brand is upmarket and exclusive, your conversion rate will probably be significantly lower than e commerce sites that sell cheap products to the general public.

In this example, it is not a bad thing to have a lower conversion rate as your profit level would be far greater than these online retailers.

Brick and mortar stores in the luxury market have similar conversion rates to an online store, but the ecommerce store will see more customers.


Consumers know they have plenty of product categories online, and will not hesitate to close a website that doesn’t shout efficiency. 

If the website is slow to load, difficult to navigate or simply unattractive, potential customers will not even get past the front page.

The same thing will happen if product descriptions are vague and have incomplete technical and usage data.

Unrealistic prices, low quality products and a lengthy delivery time are also major factors. 

Some websites ask for too much personal information from a potential new client, making it just too much trouble to sign up.

Tips to raise your conversion rate

There are many factors that affect a site visitor’s approach to making a purchase on a website, including trust in the company or brand, easy to use interface and simplicity in checking out.

Is your website optimized for the best customer experience?

Right from the get go, customers want an attractive, simple view on their screens, whether it is a desktop, tablet or mobile phone. 

Bearing in mind that almost all preliminary searches are started on mobile devices, it makes sense to have a very user-friendly smartphone presence, as well as the right scaling for all tablet and desktop screen sizes.

Visuals and text

Making sure that the products have high quality (think professional) images and descriptions that appeal to the customer both technically (size, weight, texture, etc.) and emotionally (how they might feel while using the product). Inspire confidence! 

How many sales channels are you using?

Even with competent SEO skills, it is not enough to rely on search engines to display your wares.

Modern channels include the social media platforms, such as Tiktok, Pinterest and Instagram to name a few, providing almost instantaneous customer support.

Traditional marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy are quite bloated with products and it might be difficult to shine, but it will make your product more trustworthy and legitimate in consumers’ eyes.

And don’t forget the face to face method if possible with your product line. Renting a booth or a stall for a short time will give lots of good exposure. 

Is your checkout option causing cart abandonment?

It’s really annoying when you have decided to purchase a product from a website, only to go to the checkout and find that there are loading time problems or buttons that don’t work.

In a perfect world, it should be no more difficult than using an ATM, but some websites simply don’t deliver that level of service.

Cart abandonment

Cart abandonment is incredibly high, according to Baymard Institute in 2021. After solid research, they found that nearly 70% of online shopping carts were abandoned. That has a huge impact on conversion rates, and it seems to be mostly down to customer doubts about data and payment security.

Guest or One time purchase

A good checkout on a website will allow a ‘guest’ or ‘one time buyer’ option and make it clear that there is no need to complete a long sign up form. Of course, if the product matches expectations, the customer will probably use the sign up form on their next visit.

The payment security should be highlighted to remove any unnecessary worry.

But still, cart abandonment is something that you should work on to maximize your sales.

Reviews, links and testimonials

Successful ecommerce websites have reviews and testimonials on their pages that prove to potential customers that they know what they are doing, and they do it well.

These positive remarks only strengthen the trust between customer and business, something that is vital for development.

Social proof

The process is called Social Proof, and can actually improve your SEO rankings. All search engines love to see testimonials and honest reviews.

When a respected website such as a news service, magazine or influential site links to your website in an article or blog, people who are interested have a direct link to your pages and products, proposed by the writer they already trust.

Not only, but also

Your ecommerce conversion rate is not the only statistic you need to watch. There are numerous metrics and key performance indicators that successful businesses monitor regularly. Google analytics can certainly help with some of the data, and depending on your SaaS provider, some analytics tools are built into your ecommerce platform.

But in keeping with the title, there are ways to break down the data available from your conversion rate into more precise chunks for analysis.

Category of products

Not all products sell the same volume, and some may have to be clipped to allow more focus on best sellers. Check the conversion data and look for the underperformers. Perhaps it’s time to change some product categories.

Check out your channels for performance

If you have a particular sales channel campaign or digital marketing that is not going so well, perhaps it would be better to dump it rather than throw good money after bad. Conversely, if something is going well, think about giving it a boost to maximize sales.

Conversion rate optimization

To offer what your customers are looking for is the goal, and that can certainly be helped with a little bit of conversion optimization.

Ask yourself if a new visitor will know exactly what to expect from your online store.

Make your online store easier to navigate through the product categories.

Make the purchasing process effortless and quick, while maintaining the protection of PCI compliance.

Ensure that product images and descriptions are of a professional grade.

Make it more enjoyable to visit with well-designed fun widgets and pop ups, such as easter eggs and interactive notifications, keeping the site visitors on the product pages.

Increase the social proof of your website by getting a mid level influencer to endorse one of your products.


The average ecommerce conversion rate is a huge indicator of how the business is doing, but it is important to see the bigger picture and not simply one aspect of it.

  • The target audience

Is the business aiming in the right direction? Conventional wisdom tells us that you can’t target everyone because you’ll end up with no-one. Make sure you have the right people looking for your ecommerce store, and finding your landing page.

  • Traffic sources

What devices are your website visitors using to get to your site? Is the website perfectly set up for desktop and mobile devices?

  • Average order value

Depending on the product line offered, the AOV can be in single digits (low price point) or in the thousands (luxury brands)

Taking into account all the possible metrics, the ecommerce conversion rate still appears to be at the top of the pile and is the one percentage that needs no explanation.

If your business is doing a 3% conversion rate while other similar businesses are coming in at 2.5%, then you are doing well, but there can still be room for improvement.

A jump up to 5% might seem improbable, but with sales channels and marketing strategies, product lines clearly laid out and described, and a fast checkout process, your online store might be able to welcome a brand new segment of website visitors, who might turn one transaction into a regular stream.  

You might consider using paid ads to boost your traffic. Google ads are expensive but they provide an effective way to reach a huge audience.

Keeping your people

It has been quoted that it costs five times (at least) as much to develop a new customer rather than keeping onto an old one.

In a world of easy come easy go, it is vital to retain your customers by making them feel part of the brand, and inviting them to participate in loyalty programs, online competitions and forms of discount rates on selected items.

A good ecommerce conversion rate starts with excellent customer service skills and satisfaction with the purchasing process.