Retailers are failing to translate site traffic into revenue

By Michael Aston

Although at least 90% of consumers surveyed online are browsing retail websites in an average week, retailers are failing to translate the vast majority of these visits into impulse purchases, with 75% of customers either rarely or never being persuaded to make an unplanned purchase. So found research commissioned by knowledge management vendor Transversal and conducted online by YouGov. When asked to rank barriers to purchase, respondents selected the high cost of postage and packaging (31% ranked this as the number one barrier), being asked to register their personal details (24%) and negative customer reviews on a retail website (21%) as their top options.

The research, which questioned over 2,000 GB-based consumers about their online browsing habits, shows that retailers are failing to capitalize on the high percentage of retail surfing online. Although the majority of consumers (78%) admitted spending five hours or less browsing retail websites in an average week only 5% of those surveyed stated that online shopping/browsing always (1%) or often (4%) translates into an unplanned purchase. The 55+ age group proved to be the toughest to persuade with almost four in ten (38%) never making an unplanned purchase.

When asked what most prohibits their impulse purchase decision nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents ranked being asked to ‘register their details’ on a website as the top barrier from the list. While 18-24 years old were much less likely to rank exchanging personal details as a concern, with only 19% of this age group ranking this as the top barrier, nearly a third (30%) of 55+ year olds said that this would either stop or put them off making an impulse purchase.

Online retailers are missing a trick this Christmas by overcomplicating the level of customer effort needed to reach the checkout. While third party customer reviews and the cost of postage and packaging – which also ranked highly as impulse purchase deterrents – are to a certain extent beyond the control of retailers, customer registration forms are not. It’s important that retailers do more to guide customers through the checkout process by presenting them with the right information, in the right place at every step of the purchase process. By actively placing an obstacle between the customer and the checkout basket, retailers are significantly reducing their chances of translating site traffic into revenue.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2043 adults of which 1929 browse or shop online. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th-14th November 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About the authors and research

Michael Aston is Product Manager at Transversal.

Transversal is a leading provider of online, multichannel and self-service solutions for customer-facing websites, contact centres and internal operations such as IT, HR and Facilities Management. Whether customers are posting a question on social media, using the self-service technology on a website or intranet, or walking up to the customer service desks in store, Transversal helps organizations to achieve a high-quality, consistent customer experience by improving online search responses and predicting customer queries. Founded in 2000, Transversal is headquartered in Cambridge, UK and has a global partner network.  

About YouGov

YouGov is the authoritative measure of public opinion and consumer behaviour. It is our ambition to supply a live stream of continuous, accurate data and insight into what people are thinking and doing all over the world, all of the time, so that companies, governments and institutions can better serve the people that sustain them.

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