Robin_Morris1Here in the engineering group at Baynote we had a big milestone at the end of 2012.  We successfully completed a major step of the platform updates we are putting together.  But more of that another time.  Here I want to look back at the last two months of last year, in terms the data we collect on e-commerce shoppers, and how we can interpret that data to give insights about shoppers’ behavior.

We collect all sorts of data from users’ interactions with our customers’ websites, but the basic data is views, clicks and purchases.  From this basic data we can derive other metrics.  The ones we’ll focus on here are sessions, conversion rate and average order value (AOV), from data collected from a large e-commerce retailer.

The first graph is the number of user sessions for each day in November and December.  The clear features are the twin peaks, on Friday 23rd November and Monday 26th November – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – when the number of sessions was 2-3 times higher than the average for the rest of the year.

graph-AOV-wordfromengineers

Looking at the second graph, however, it becomes clear that on Friday 23rd, users were browsing – the conversion rate shows only a small increase over the long term average – but on Cyber Monday, they buy – the conversion rate was 3-4 times higher than usual.  What’s also interesting is that after Cyber Monday, the conversion rate starts to increase gradually – Christmas shopping starts straight away, and peaks between December 13th and 18th – in time for gifts to be shipped to arrive for Christmas.

But what’s more interesting is the difference in what people are buying – looking at the graph of Average Order Value, we see that around Thanksgiving, AOV is the same as the long term average – people were buying the same types of items as they were the rest of the year.  But in the peak Christmas shopping season, the AOV is strongly lower – around 70% of the long-term average.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are different.  At Thanksgiving people buy for themselves, and spend what they usually spend.  For Christmas, they buy for others, and spend less than they would on themselves.  Peace and Goodwill to all!