Boosting conversion rates takes continuous investment in the customer experience. The just-released 2021 How to Improve Conversion Rate Report shares insights and tips from retailers who tapped into the customer experience to lift their conversion rate amid a topsy-turvy year.

When a consumer lands on a retailer’s ecommerce site, what makes that shopper commit to the purchase?

It could be several factors, including—but not limited to—site speed, robust search results, photos and videos on the product detail pages or a seamless checkout experience. The usual suspects had to be enhanced and upgraded even more when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020 and more shoppers moved online. All in all, consumers spent $791.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up 32.4% year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019.

Retailers’ quick pivots to turn their attention to ecommerce helped boost online sales and conversion rates. In fact, the median conversion rate for the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 retailers in 2020 was 2.9%.

But conversion rates—the percentage of website visitors who make a purchase on the site during a given visit—depend on a lot of factors, such as the type of retailer and the retailer’s merchandise category. So, while every retailer should do what it can to raise conversion rates, experts say they should not obsess over getting to a particular level.

The state of online retail conversion rates

Despite the hardships created by the pandemic, 75% of retailers said conversion rate was up in 2020, while just 22% said it remained about the same and 3% said it was down, according to Digital Commerce 360’s 2021 performance and conversion retailer survey of 103 merchants conducted in January and February 2021.


The average conversion rate for retailers in 2020 was 2-3%, according to retail respondents in the survey. Most of the retailers that Digital Commerce 360 interviewed said their conversion rate was in that range, while some had large spikes in conversion during the late spring or summer when retail stores were still closed and they added features to their sites to make shopping easier.

For example, online plant retailer realized its search function was inhibiting potential purchases.  The retailer noticed consumers were finding their way to its site and searching for broad product terms, and eventually didn’t complete their purchases.

After implementing the new search in spring 2020, noticed an immediate uptick in conversion. In its initial results, the retailer found that shoppers were six times more likely to convert when using the new search compared with shoppers who did not search on the site at all. Plus, shoppers who used the search generated 28% of its overall revenue and spent seven times more per visit compared with shoppers who did not use the search.

Since the beginning of 2021, has collected more data about its site search. From January to mid-March, shoppers who use its search are 6.1 times more likely to convert. And now 30% of revenue is attributed to search with 28% of orders attributed to search. Shoppers’ average order value without search was $223.45, while shoppers’ AOV when using search was $250.38. 

Website visitors are to e-retailers what foot traffic is to store-based retailers. Not everyone who comes in will buy something. But the goal is to sell to as many as possible. And, in every category, it’s in an e-retailer’s interest to boost their conversion rates as much as they can.


Helping online retailers turn shoppers into buyers is the goal of Digital Commerce 360’s 2021 How to Improve Conversion Rates Report. Packed with valuable insights, actionable tips and exclusive case studies, the 2021 How to Improve Conversion Rates Report helps retailers explore new strategies for immediate implementation and improvement in both conversion and customer satisfaction. For example, almost half of retailers (48%) say that social media is an important avenue in driving conversion—a tool many retailers may not have considered in their journey to finding conversion success.

The report includes:

  • Data and analysis on conversion rates for the Top 1000 retailers
  • How COVID-19 drove retailers to invest in new technologies and tactics to drive conversion online
  • Interviews with retailers such as, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Vincero Watches and more
  • Detailed consumer insights and analysis on shopping behaviors
  • 10 tips on how retailers can boost conversion


This article is based on an analysis from the Digital Commerce 360’s 2021 How to Improve Conversion Rates Report. You can learn how to purchase the 2021 How to Improve Conversion Rates Report here.