With the mass reopening of physical stores and the emergence of a global cost of living crisis striking a double blow to online shopping, 2022 was a tough year for eCommerce. All the key metrics that measure success were heading in discouraging directions—not least retail conversion rates.

While we’re not out of the woods yet, 2023 can be a year in which retailers buck prevailing economic trends and drive more conversions, more ROI and real growth through eCommerce.

Armed with the right insights, your digital team can strategize to make your digital customer experience a consistent growth engine for your business this year. And we know just where you can find those insights: In our 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report. 

See how your digital experience stacks up.

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(If you’re after some general practical guidance on optimizing for conversions, don’t forget to bookmark our guide to Conversion Rate Optimization).

Keep reading to find out more about what’s inside the report, and what you’ll get out of it, plus a preview of five key insights that our analysis has revealed.

The Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report: What’s in it and why it matters

In putting together this year’s retail benchmark report, we’ve analyzed 2022’s digital customer experience data, from 20 billion sessions that happened across 1,493 retail sites, 26 countries and seven sub verticals—namely:

  • Luxury
  • Health & Beauty
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Fashion
  • Home Goods & Furnishings
  • Grocery
  • Other Retail

Our findings will enable you to benchmark your business’s performance against your competitors. We’ve rendered them in snazzy graph and chart form, making them super accessible for you and your colleagues, and easily shareable with your execs. 

We’ve also packed the report full to bursting with insights, strategies, best practices and predictions that should help you delight customers, beat the benchmark for 2023 and grow your business in the face of economic headwinds.

Insights like this are gold dust at a time when retailers are going through a crisis in confidence. A recent Deloitte survey found that only one third of retail executives are very confident about maintaining or improving profit margins in the turbulent times ahead that many are forecasting. 

For eCommerce leaders, this lack of confidence could easily damage your digital customer experience, as executives look to cut back on vital technology investments. 

The 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report contains the data and insights you need to make growth-generating strategic decisions about your digital customer experience with real confidence, and to instill that same confidence in the decision-makers holding the purse strings.  

Now here’s a taster of what you’ll get from reading it: five insights into the digital customer experience landscape in retail in 2022 that will point you in the direction of conversions, revenue and growth in 2023.

5 retail conversion rate related insights from the 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark report

1. Retail conversion rates dropped in 2022—and bounces rose

To be more precise, conversion rates dropped -3.5% in 2022 from the previous year, falling to 2.36% in Q4 2022. Meanwhile, bounce rates were up by +2.1% Year-on-Year, up to an eye-wateringly high 47%.

conversion rate paid vs unpaid by device and industry

These metrics by themselves don’t tell us much—except that retailers should be concerned. (There’s more context on conversion to be found in our report, where we look at related metrics such as average order value and revenue per visit.)

To understand why conversion rates are dropping and bounce rates are rising, and to move the needle in the right direction on those all-important outcomes, retailers need to understand the full customer journey. 

That’s what the 2023 Retail Digital Customer Experience is designed to help with. And it starts with understanding where visitors are coming from. Literally.

2. Mobile traffic dominated, hurting conversion

Retail traffic rallied in Q4 after a three-quarter drought, though only by +1.5%. We delve into which sources this traffic came from and the types of visitors brought in with it in our report, but here we’ll focus on the year’s biggest story, and a big factor in bringing conversion rates down: The continuing growth of mobile traffic.

Nearly 3 out of 4 (73.5%) of visits to retail sites in 2022 came via mobile. But despite this dominance, mobile still only captured 53.8% of all sales. 

That’s because conversion is lower on mobile than desktop, particularly when it comes to paid traffic (which accounted for more than 1 in 3 visits across retail in 2022). On desktop, paid traffic converted 3.83% of the time; on mobile, it converted only 1.58%

conversion rate of paid vs unpaid visits, by device and industry

These statistics show that eCommerce leaders urgently need to invest in optimizing mobile experiences to stimulate conversion rates.

They should also ensure that desktop and mobile experiences are seamlessly integrated, making it easy for shoppers who still prefer desktop over mobile for making purchases to complete on desktop what they’ve started on mobile.

3. Falling consumption dragged conversion down

Retail conversion rates are being affected by a possible consumption crisis, with scroll rate, session depth and average time spent on website dropping in 2022

Another crucial factor behind falling conversion rates was an across the board decline in content consumption metrics. Session depth fell -2.3%. Scroll rate fell -3.8%. Most dramatically, time spent on websites fell by an astonishing -8.1%. 

The average page views per buying session (that is, a session that ended in a purchase) in 2022 was 25.4 pages, showing that the more pages and content site visitors consume the more likely they are to convert. 

When you consider that the average page views per session in 2022 was a mere five pages, it’s easy to see that the decline of content consumption is having a huge impact on conversion rates. 

Our report offers various insights into tackling the growing consumption crisis, including highlighting the page types which capture the most attention and should therefore be prioritized for optimization. 

But even before reading our report, the next two insights will help point you in the right direction to start raising your consumption and conversion rates.

4. User frustration is rife—and damaging conversion rates

First up, you need to know your biggest enemy: User frustration, which our report reveals affects 37% of retail shopper experiences. This frustration is caused by many factors, including website errors and user experience design flaws. 

These factors directly impact retail conversion rates. For example, take slow page loads—the most common (and damaging) cause of user frustration. 

As revealed in our report, pages that take longer than three seconds to load impact one in five sessions, and impacted sessions have a 3.9% higher bounce than sessions with pages that load in under one second.  

Friction is sabotaging 37% of sessions, dragging retail conversion rates down

To fix frustration, you’ve got to know what’s causing it. You can start by reading our report. We we list the main frustration factors affecting eCommerce site users, and break down their percentage prevalence by sub vertical. 

5. High user engagement drives conversion rates and revenue

User frustration stymies conversion, but so does user disengagement. Conversely, user engagement supercharges it. 

We’ve shown that in our report by measuring bounces and conversions against user activity. User activity measures how much visitors are interacting with content—by swiping, clicking, scrolling and typing—while they’re on a site.

And activity is clearly correlated to conversion. Our report reveals that sites with higher activity levels enjoy +0.8% higher conversions and 12.6% lower bounce rates

So if you want a mantra for driving conversions and growth in 2023 through your digital customer experience, here it is: “Less frustration, more activity!”

Boost retail conversion rates with digital experience analytics

We’ve just scratched the surface of the insights on offer in the 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report. Here we’ve had room to give you a quick oversight of the lay of the land in retail in 2022—and of what you need to work on in 2023 to see healthy conversion rates and growth.

As for the ‘how’ of making these changes, you’ll need technology that enables you to explore and optimize every stage of the customer journey. That’s where digital experience analytics (DXA) comes into play.

DXA goes beyond traditional analytics by enabling you to dig into the full range of user behavior, recording and analyzing the entire customer journey, including both the clicks and the conversion-driving activity that happens between the clicks: scrolls, hovers, taps, etc. 

We’ve written elsewhere about how DXA enables you to optimize conversion rates—and we’ve seen countless of our retail clients use Contentsquare to do exactly that. 

French luxury fashion house Kenzo, for example, saw a +150% increase in online conversion rate (a +25% increase from the previous year) within seven days of making changes to its eCommerce site suggested by Contentsquare.

If you’re thinking you might like to join the ranks of retailers who’ve used Contentsquare to supercharge conversions, why not check out a short product tour to see it in action?

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You never know, it could be a conversion experience for you—and, ultimately, for your customers.