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Five Unexpected Findings From UAE E-Commerce User Behavior (And How Your Business Should Address Them) Looking at over 150 e-commerce sites, this entrepreneur gathered and compared data points around time on site, number of pages visited, traffic, device, bounce rates, and more.

By Awad Makkawi

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With the e-commerce upward trajectory expected to continue, we at Build Successful Startups decided to run a study to see if there were any gaps in visitor experience and user behavior on e-commerce sites.

As it turns out, there are complete fractures- not just gaps.

But this means that there are also massive opportunities that brands can capitalize on.

Looking at over 150 e-commerce sites, we gathered and compared data points around time on site, number of pages visited, traffic, device, bounce rates, and more. Here's what we found.

1. 24% of visitors spend less than one minute on e-commerce sites in the UAE.

For an e-commerce business, the ultimate goal is to sell its products in store. That means visitors need to land on a page, learn about the product, verify and decide that it is what they want, proceed to checkout, enter payment and address details (if required), and submit a purchase request to order a product.

So, for our study to show such a low time on site -less than 60 seconds- for an e-commerce brand suggests that the either the visitor experience is underwhelming, or the site is not addressing the customer needs. In other words, chances are low that those visitors, especially if they are cold traffic, turn into purchasing customers.

To improve time on site, brands can consider ways to improve user targeting and segmentation to ensure that their content meets specific customers at specific stages in the buyer journey. Furthermore, on site optimizations include improving site speed and user experience, addition of calls to action (CTA) to direct customers on what to do next, and increasing dwell time through the use of video and incentives.

2. 22% of visitors visit just one page on a site

To make matters even worse, when we dove further into the above finding, we discovered that 22% of visitors will visit just a single page on an e-commerce site. We can safely assume here that the chances of a customer landing on the checkout page of the product that they want to purchase are very low- and as such, this is a significant metric, because it shows that out of every 100 visitors, 22 are guaranteed not to buy.

This is a massive loss considering the investment that goes into paid campaigns, social campaigns, SEO, and content creation. When we consider the margins that e-commerce brands work with and the low average global conversion rates of around 2.8%, "paying to lose" traffic should be unthinkable.

To address this issue, brands can, as mentioned earlier, upgrade their customer segmentation, user experience, and dwell time. However, there are other strategies to increase engagement such as:

  • Using data analytics to uncover which distribution channels lead to higher conversions and better traffic to focus on those
  • Optimizing the mobile shopping experience
  • Using heatmaps to discover drop off points on specific pages or overall marketing funnel
  • Implementing bolder A/B test

3. Visitors that view more than four pages spend an average of 10-15 minutes on site

The significance of this metric is with marketing funnel optimization. It is the job of the e-commerce brand to guide customers towards the specific outcome they were searching for when they landed on the site, and then eventually to guide them to complete a transaction.

A standard marketing funnel (paid or on-site) aims to guide customers across the stages of awareness, interest, intent, and acquisition. This means that brands will likely need at least a four-page strategy- one for each stage. Then the strategy can be designed to keep visitors on site for more than 10 minutes to increase chances of guiding them further down the funnel the acquisition stage. If not, then they can collect contact information to continue the customer interaction off-site possibly via email or social platforms.

4. 71% of e-commerce websites in UAE have overall bounce rates drastically higher than industry averages

Bounce rates are a tricky metric. On one hand, yes, high bounce rates may indicate that visitors are not interested and clicking away from the web page. On the other hand, high bounce rates could be the result of visitors reading slowly, leaving the page for a break, and returning later, opening several pages in several tabs, and so on.

So, in reality, the true effect of the bounce rate metric depends on the context and outcome desired from a specific webpage. But in general, for e-commerce brands where the outcome is centered around visitors viewing more than one page, a high bounce rate often indicates potential problems.

The average e-commerce bounce rates are in the 20-45% range, but our study revealed that 71% of e-commerce brands here have bounce rates above 50%, and 42% have bounce rates above 70%.

One significant method to get insights into reducing bounce rates would be to segment website traffic. This means sending traffic from different sources to different landing pages for better evaluation. The different pages can then be analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of how users behave and interact on the website. Traffic can be segmented according to the following factors:

  • Visitor i.e. first time or returning
  • Channel i.e. paid, social, search, email, etc.
  • Device i.e. mobile, desktop, tablet.

Another method would be to get granular with page events. In fact, Google defines a bounce as a session with a single request to your analytics server, without another request being triggered in 30 minutes. This means that visitors could interact with your page without visiting another page, and you could still have a low bounce rate.

Here's how: if an e-commerce brand creates events for, say, video views or clicks to a lead magnet, then any interaction with those would reduce bounce rates. Furthermore, they could then target those visitors, since they've shown interest, back into their marketing funnels.

5. Mobile usage is overtaking desktop

In fact, our study showed that 175% more mobile users visit 2-5 pages when compared to desktop, and 177% more spend 10-15 minutes on an e-commerce site compared to desktop. These findings cement the need for a mobile-first approach, no matter what the funnel activation strategy is for an e-commerce brand.

Furthermore, it aligns perfectly with Google's recent announcement that they will begin mobile-first indexing by September 2020. This is specifically important following website updates or redesigns. Google suggests optimizations including ensuring the Googlebot can crawl mobile pages, structured data should be the same for mobile and desktop, and content should be the same as well, so that Google can gather enough information about the webpage as before.

All of this may sound technical, but there's really no two ways about it: e-commerce brands need to confirm their sites are ready for the shift to mobile-first indexing to avoid any ranking cliff drops.

Related: Winning The E-Commerce Battle In The Post COVID-19 Era

Awad Makkawi

Founder, Build Successful Startups

Awad Makkawi is the founder of Build Successful Startups, the MENA’s only startup model optimization platform designed for early stage founders to set them up for high growth, scale, and investment five times faster.

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