Episerver Commerce Report 2020: Key Findings

Amanda Mulquiney-Birbeck
Amanda Mulquiney-BirbeckDigital Marketing Manager
10 Mar 2020


Last month Episerver released its latest report, the B2C Retail Benchmark Report, Q1 2020. If you’re looking to compare how your B2C commerce site stacks up against the competition, then you’re in the right place!

Ecommerce websites are nothing without traffic, but not all traffic sources are created equal. Episerver has tracked data from nearly 4 billion unique shopping sessions across 160 retail and consumer brand websites globally in 2017, 2018 and 2019. They’ve captured a snapshot of what they believe are the key findings for device penetration, traffic sources and conversion rates. The report also provides a deep dive into the 2019 trends in consumer behaviour.

The “B2C Retail Benchmark Report” will give Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Directors a useful snapshot of what’s currently happening across a statistically significant sample of retail and consumer brands.

With new research claiming that consumers spent $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday alone along with 26% of consumers shopping online every week – It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see big online numbers in 2019. However, as the larger retail landscape has been struggling, online retailers should constantly evaluate which devices and traffic sources are performing and adjust their marketing strategy to suit.

Search is King Online

Retailers and brands alike should invest in both non-branded and branded, organic and paid search strategies. The report highlight that Organic and paid search account for the highest conversion rates and lowest bounce rates. This data echos Episerver’s Reimagining Commerce Report 2020, where 42% of consumers reported they visit Google first when they have a specific product in mind for purchase. Unsurprisingly, Amazon was their second visit at 33%.

Interestingly even with a high proportion of users visiting a brand’s site direct – 87% of consumers still compare what they find on a brand’s site with Amazon. (Principles of Standout Digital Experiences, Episerver, 2019)


Paid search is used all year-round and not isolated to peak season periods. In fact, paid search tends to decline over peak shopping periods possibly due to higher competition and more expensive bids.

Social Commerce is has hit a peak

Despite social's lower conversion rate than other traffic sources, consumers are increasingly clicking through from social activity to a B2C retailer's website. Social media peaked at 8% in 2019, double the previous year. This rise in traffic shouldn’t be ignored! It’s clear that consumers are using different channels along their purchasing journey. Despite the low click-through rates and conversion, retailers shouldn’t be discouraged from investing in social media as it’s often used for initial inspiration and research. The best performing retailers are those who balance optimised search, engaging content and commerce through email campaigns and social media.


Mobile is here to stay

The report highlights that Mobile traffic consistently exceeded 50% every month in 2019,  proving that Mobile isn’t going anywhere. Episerver predict that mobile traffic will exceed 60% or more in peak-selling seasons from this point on.

When looking at traffic share by device it’s clear that mobile has reached a peak at 59%, whilst tablets continue to fall, and desktop sessions become less frequent.


Despite mobile being responsible for the most website traffic, conversion rates are higher on desktop – at around 3.1% on desktop and tablet, and 2.1% on mobile. This could indicate that serious buyers, ready to make a purchase, still rely on desktop computers to do so. Mobile sites may still lack the mobile-friendly user experiences and functionality designed for smaller screens and devices.

With an increasing number of consumers opting to shop via their mobile, online merchants should ensure they optimise their web experiences considering content priorities, goals, site speed, and mobile-responsiveness.

Which traffic source has the highest conversion rate?

Referral, Paid and Organic Search are all a force to be reckoned with when it comes to conversion rate, with Referral taking first place at 3%. Paid and organic search come in joint-second at 2.6% - this is down from 2.9/2.7% in the previous year. This suggests that keywords are becoming more competitive, relevancy and ad-quality are ever more important – as visitors become more discerning about what they click on in search engine results pages.   

Social and display are in the last position with <1% conversion rate – highlighting how online retailers aren’t taking advantage of social commerce to turn the casual follower into a loyal customer.


According to the 2019 report, Google is the most popular place to start the shopping journey. With a high conversion and low bounce rates. The results from this study should inspire retailers to optimise their web pages for search engines and use product recommendations and personalisation engines such as Episerver. This remains true for 2020.

Email is in third place at 2.5% - email marketing is likely to be more profitable than other channels because the recipients are returning or at least loyal customers who've already bought from the retailer. As such, they are more likely to convert following a brand’s email campaign or promotion.

The retailers of tomorrow will accept that they need to lead with relevant content and guidance first, purchases later.

Retailers need to get behind consumer’s instinct to browse now and buy later. Developing strategies to understand their consumers behaviours and preferences, rather than transactional information alone. This gives retailers a massive opportunity to develop experience-driven commerce focused on information and inspiration as part of an on-going conversation, rather than conversion alone. It's clear that retailers cannot rely solely on one traffic source to drive new and returning customers.


To find out more about Episerver from Maginus click here.



Read next: The Top 6 Ecommerce Trends in 2020



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