Understanding Online Buyer Behavior Part I: First Time vs. Returning Visitors


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In our last series, we looked at who’s abandoning their online shopping carts, why they’re abandoning, and what can be done to convert abandoners into customers. Now, it’s time to improve our understanding of online buyer behavior.

The numbers below are based on SeeWhy’s extensive research and study of online behavior. While some may appear counter-intuitive, all of these figures represent real ecommerce activity of real people. In turn, we gain a clear idea of what buyers actually do when they shop online as well as key takeaways that can help further reduce your shopping cart abandonment.

In this part, we will focus on new visitors vs. returning visitors on your ecommerce website and how likely they are to buy.


First-time visitors – Let’s start with new, first-time visitors to an ecommerce site. First of all, 99% of these visitors won’t buy on their first visit. Of those who don’t buy, 25% will abandon and never return while 75% will abandon but intend to return.

Key takeaway: 81% of online merchants believe that the majority of abandoners are wasting the merchants’ time. However, the bulk of abandoners – 75% – have some degree of intent to purchase and will return to the site to abandon again or purchase.

Returning visitiors – When returning visitors abandon a second time, 53% won’t return again within 28 days. Of the 47% that will return, one in four will make a purchase.

Only 3% of new customers will buy again while 11% of returning visitors who have made a recent purchase (i.e., within the previous 28 days) will buy again.

Key takeaway: Most visitors don’t buy immediately but require a series of visits and abandons over time while considering their purchase. The more that a customer visits the site and the more that they buy, in general, the more they will buy in the future.

In the next part of series, we’ll talk about how timing plays into purchasing behavior.

Can’t wait to find out more? Download our free eBook on The Science of Shopping Cart Abandonment.

Check out our full infographic here.


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