Online Shoppers Taking 80% Longer to Buy Than in 2005

July 17, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Retail & E-Commerce

Shoppers are taking on average 34 hours and 19 minutes from the time they first visit an e-commerce site to when they finally make a purchase, according to a new analysis of 2.6 million online sales by ScanAlert.

Data presented in the report, “Digital Window Shopping: The Long Delay Before Buying,” shows the delay is now more than half a day (80%) longer than the 19 hour 11 min average that ScanAlert reported in 2005.

When compared to the 2005 data, delays are increasing for all time periods:


“The primary reasons for the increase over 2005 are greater sourcing choices, and the availability of broadband access at work and in the home,” said report author Nigel Ravenhill, ScanAlert’s director of marketing communications.

“It is a bit of a paradox for retailers, because while faster internet access allows you to complete your order quickly, it also enables you to jump rapidly from site to site. Combine that with the increasing popularity of shopping search engines, and you have the ideal environment for increased digital window shopping.”

“The most notable increase is clearly the behavior of the ‘cautious shoppers,’ those shoppers who take more than three days to purchase,” Ravenhill said.

Specifically, “cautious shoppers” are becoming even more cautious:

  • 26% took more than three days
  • 18% took more than one week
  • 6% took more than two weeks to purchase.
  • These numbers rose 23%, 28% and 50%, respectively, compared with the same delay periods in 2005.

Other conclusions discussed in the report:

  1. Retailers must reevaluate their pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns, using a much longer time frame to calculate ROI.
  2. Consumers spending the longest time shopping are also the most concerned about the safety of the sites where they shop, and thus the most influenced by merchants who build an online comfort zone.

Organizations with transactional sites need to make the online experience more informative, and the sense of safety more memorable, in order to influence those who abandon their carts to return later when ready to buy, ScanAlert said.

About the study: Digital Window Shopping: The Long Delay Before Buying, is based on 480 A/B split tests run by 470 websites to evaluate the effect of displaying ScanAlert’s Hacker Safe certification mark on visitor-to-buyer conversion rates. The 2,652,795 aggregate sales recorded between 5/1/2005-5/1/2007 were generated by 128,264,941 visitors. Sites represented a cross-section of organizations, ranging from small, medium, and enterprise B2B and B2C retailers to nonprofits, content publishers, manufacturers, and ecommerce pure plays.

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