E-Commerce: Who’s Winning the Popularity War, and When?

Earlier this year, we launched our latest report, The E-Commerce Ecosystem: The State of Cross-Device Digital Shopping, showcasing Verto Analytics’ latest research on consumer behavior and how it relates to the path to purchase. Previously, we shared excerpts that provided an overview of the online shopping landscape, as well as a more detailed look at online shoppers by age, gender, and other demographic breakdowns. Now, we’ll take a look at which online shopping sites are most popular, and when. For a deeper dive, you can download the full report here.

Which Online Shopping Properties Are Most Popular Over the Course of the Day?

In order to identify which online shopping sites and apps are most popular, we calculated the indexed reach of each property, or what percentage of each e-commerce property’s daily users are active at a given hour of the day. This allows us to use the same basis of comparison for properties with differently-sized user bases. The chart below illustrates the percentage of a given property’s audience that are active across the different hours of the day. For example, at 6am, 20% of Amazon’s audience is active and engaged with that online shopping site or app.

Regardless of our indexing, Amazon is still the dominant online shopping brand throughout the day, especially between 11am and 8pm, when more than half of its active user base are engaging in online shopping on the site or app. Meanwhile, Groupon’s users show a distinct peak at about 9am, while Macy’s shows two peaks: one in mid-morning, the other between 9am and 10am. Target and Wish both show a series of peaks throughout the day, each culminating in the evenings, when 25%-30% of their audience is active.

Tracking Weekly Online Shopping Behaviors

Meanwhile, an analysis of weekly consumer behavior provides an even richer view into which brands are most popular, and when. Again, we indexed all five properties to account for differences in audience size. Again, Amazon continues to attract the lion’s share of consumer time online, and especially on the weekends: more than 80% of its user base is active on the site on at least once per day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with a peak on Sunday evenings. But other brands with smaller user bases also show distinct weekly consumer shopping patterns: Wish also enjoys a boost over the weekend (particularly on Friday and Sunday evenings), while Target shoppers show a clear preference for browsing and buying on Sundays.

A Weekly View of Shopping Across Devices

While different shopping websites and apps shows clear patterns of user activity across the week, this also extends to the types of devices consumers use to shop, research, and browse. According to Verto data, consumers still rely on PCs for the majority of their online shopping activities—and particularly on Tuesday evenings, when nearly 30 million hours are spent shopping via PC. Friday and Saturday evenings are also a popular time to shop on PC, while shopping on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) happens at a more consistent rate across the week. However, there is a slight spike in the amount of time spent shopping on smartphones on Fridays and over the weekend.

Consumers are shopping online around the clock, across multiple screens, and in conjunction with (as opposed to separated from) a variety of other digital activities: watching streaming videos, chatting with friends, browsing social media feeds, and scanning email inboxes. For brands and advertisers, this means a growing audience of constantly connected consumers—and a growing set of distractions, which require a more creative, tactical approach to messaging and engagement. But not all consumers are equal; in particular, our data shows the benefit of looking beyond the usual Amazon-dominated sphere of influence; Our analysis of other e-commerce properties revealed distinct behaviors for different brands, based on both daily and weekly data. Groupon, for example, enjoys a boost in users at 9am daily, while Target gets a boost in traction Sundays. Identifying these touchpoints for your own brand can help you understand exactly when you can best engage your audience—and draw consumers away from your competitors.

Interested in learning more about our insights on e-commerce and online shopping behavior? Download the full report here, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates.