Q2 2015 Pulse E-Commerce Update: Understanding Marketing Channel Performance

US e-commerce delivered solid performance in Q2 2015, in sharp contrast to much struggle in the brick & mortar retail world. E-Commerce transactions were up a cool 10% over Q2 2014, and e-commerce revenue was up 9.4% year over year.

These stats - as well as the others in this post - are based on the Custora E-Commerce Pulse, a free dashboard tracking online transactions from over 100 US retailers, 500 million anonymized shoppers, and over $80 billion in transaction revenue. Sign up here to receive email notifications for monthly updates and seasonal research reports.

The rest of the post focuses on 2015 e-commerce performance to date (Q1 + Q2). You can check out the Pulse dashboard for more detailed information, or download a spreadsheet at the end of the post with monthly metrics.


2015 To Date: Double-digit growth continues.

In the first half of 2015, US e-commerce revenue grew by 10.8% compared to the same time period in 2014. E-commerce transactions grew by 11.6% year over year.


Mobile e-commerce continues to gain share

At the end of 2014, just under a quarter of all e-commerce purchases -- 24.1% -- took place on mobile devices (phones and tablets). At the end of Q2 2015, this share is now 27.5%. Mobile traffic and transactions are growing, but with mobile conversion rates lagging behind, the lion's share of actual transactions is still happening on desktop computers -- 72.5%.


Focus on: E-Commerce marketing channels

For this quarterly update, we focused on online marketing channels driving e-commerce transactions. Determining which channel "drives" a transaction is based on the attribution method used by each retailer; currently, the vast majority of the retailers included in the Pulse index use the Last Click attribution method.

The diagram below breaks down the distribution of all e-commerce marketing orders by the online marketing channel driving them.

Custora Pulse Q2 channel diagram

What does it mean?

1. Search is key.
Online search - free and paid - drove almost 40% (39.8% to be exact) of all e-commerce transactions. More than ever, retailers are very much at Google's mercy, and having a strong Search strategy is a must.


2. Affiliate marketing is important.
Driving traffic to an online store by partnering with other sites is becoming increasingly common. Affiliate marketing drove 17% of all e-commerce orders in 2015 to date, making it the second largest channel after online search.


3. Email marketing offers some solace.
Email marketing accounted for a respectable 15.6% of e-commerce transactions in 2015. The channel offers marketers control over the user experience and the highest ROI, and it is encouraging to see it continues to be a pillar of e-commerce marketing.


4. Display and social media are not directly driving orders (yet?). 
This trend has been consistent since we started tracking US e-commerce: Social media networks (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) aren't directly driving e-commerce transactions. The same applies to display advertising (including retargeting). These two channels combined accounted for only 1.9% of all e-commerce orders in 2015 to date.


5. Apple iOS vs. Android - stable, for now. In 2014, the share of mobile e-commerce orders made on Apple iOS devices (iPhone and iPads) declined substantially - from 83.9% at the beginning of 2014 to 79.2% at the end of the year. Android's share has grown proportionately in 2014, from 15.7% to 20.3%. However, in 2015 to date the trend seemed to have slowed down: In Q2, Apple's share was steady and hovered around 77% of all mobile e-commerce transactions.


You can hear and read more about how successful e-commerce brands use the various channels to drive profitable growth in our series of webinars with e-commerce and marketing leaders. In the most recent one, Tim Grace, VP eCommerce at The Tie Bar, talked about how The Tie Bar used email marketing to build the leading online men's accessories brand in the US.


More where this came from. 
Check out the Pulse and sign-up to receive email updates for our holiday, seasonal, and industry performance reports.


About Custora and how we can help.
Custora provides a customer-centric marketing platform that uses data science to help retailers better understand their customers and improve marketing across channels.
Some of the world’s leading retail brands use Custora to reduce customer churn, implement automated Lifecycle Marketing programs, and optimize customer acquisition with Customer Lifetime Value analysis.
Custora is proud to work with some of the world’s leading e-commerce retailers, including Ann Taylor LOFT, Bonobos, Backcountry, and Crocs. If you’re interested in learning more about Custora, you can request a demo here.

Download the E-Commerce Q2 2015 Datasheet

Fill in your details to download a spreadsheet (XLS format) with monthly e-commerce data for 2015, including:

1. Revenue, orders, and AOV (Average Order Value) growth
2. Mobile e-commerce breakdown (desktop, phone, tablet)
3. Mobile platform breakdown (Android vs Apple iOS)
4. Marketing channel breakdown

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