Study Says Conversion Rates Are Falling


Forrester Research's State of Online Retailing Report notes that conversion rates are going down, according to Future Now:

The average conversion rate for online retailing.

In 2002 it was 3.2%, in 2003 it was 2.4%, 2004 it was 2.6%, and last year down to 2.4%.

They posted the graph below from the report as well.

Is there really a decline in conversion? If so, what's causing it?


I think more people are

I think more people are probably using the web to do research for comparison shopping and for offline purchases.

as search ads get more relevant it is easy to click on many ads...not only on search, but also on content sites. On one of my content sites I have a page that averages about 2.6 ad clicks per clicking page viewer.

I also think the ad matching engines on content are getting smarter and content producers are creating more content around clicking / shopping opportunities. If certain types of content can make 3 times as much per a pageload why not create more of that type of content?

More Competition

Few years ago you may have had 3 people selling poker chips online. Now you have 100+. You have smarter surfers who research stores and prices. When dollars of online sales goes down, that's when I'll worry.


Consider the traffic on one of my web sites is roughly 13,500 visitors a day with about 50-200 stealth crawlers being blocked per day. This easily accounts for a range of about .5% - 1.5% of all visitors per day, and those are just the ones I'm actually catching which pretend to be browsers.

Of course your ROI numbers will be skewed when you don't what's human and what's a crawler as crawlers don't buy products.

My recommendation would be to rerun those numbers with "scraper fudge factor" and maybe deduct 100-200 total visitors off the top per site in the study and THEN see what you get and call it "bot adjusted results". Probably won't make a dent in really big retail operations but I know a lot of lucrative businesses that get roughly my traffic which this would make a huge difference in their outlook on ROI. Then again, maybe really big retail operations get a lot more scrapers, who knows.

I'm thinking that the stats my code provides me on actual visitors vs. confirmed non-visitors will be a huge boon down the road to both retailers and advertisers alike.

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