Top e-etailers that offer omnichannel services had an 18.5% higher conversion rate for online purchases in 2021. Data from the Digital Commerce 360 conversion report shows that, overall, conversion rates remained unchanged in 2021 after big growth in 2020.

Retailers that offer omnichannel services have higher conversion rates than those that do not. And, among omnichannel retailers, those that offer curbside pickup have the highest conversion rates of all.

Pickup of online orders at physical stores is exploding in popularity. According to Digital Commerce 360 data, 170 Top 1000 retailers offered curbside pickup in 2021, up from just 25 in 2020. That’s a 580.0% increase. More Top 1000 retailers also began offering buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). In 2021, 232 Top 1000 retailers offered BOPIS, up 15.4% from 201 retailers in 2020.

Stagnant conversion rates overall

In 2021, ecommerce sales kept growing, albeit at a far lower rate than during the initial COVID outbreak year of 2020. But conversion rates — defined as the percentage of website visitors who make purchases — leveled off.

2021 included the emergence of at least three new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, but also a widespread return to stores. That year, U.S. ecommerce sales topped 2020’s level by 14.2%. Online shoppers purchased $870.78 billion from retailers, compared with $752.68 billion in 2020, according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures. Nearly $1 in every $5 spent at retailers was an online purchase, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of Commerce Department figures.

In 2020, the first waves of COVID-19 led to temporary store closures and panic-buying that stripped local inventory from stores that remained open. That situation prompted many shoppers to turn to online retailers, leading to a historic 31.8% year-over-year rise in ecommerce sales in 2020.

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But even while consumers continued to spend increasing amounts of money online, several factors hampered conversion rates in 2021. Shortages from supply-chain disruptions were notable.

Direct marketers ranked in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 continued to have the best average conversion rates among the four merchant types we track. But even there, conversion rates fell slightly in 2021, compared with 2020.

This article is based on Digital Commerce 360’s 2022 How to Improve Conversion Rates Report. Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum Members receive a complimentary copy of this report as part of their membership. Non-members can purchase a downloadable PDF of this report for $399. View the table of contents here.

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