GLOBAL: Online conversion rates dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2015, a survey has shown, as consumers browsed more and also spent less on each order.

Figures contained in the latest Ecommerce Quarterly report from Monetate, the online personalisation business, were based on more than seven billion online shopping sessions across its global customer base of online retailers.

The study said that the global conversion rate had fallen to 2.32% in Q1 2015, compared to 2.54% a year earlier. The add-to-cart rate was also down, from 8.31% to 7.39% over the same period.

Mike Harris, vp/EMEA at Monetate, highlighted the fact that people were visiting more product pages in each shopping session – up from 2.09 to 2.28 – as they compared prices, delivery options and return policies.

"As they move between sites, this has the effect of reducing conversion rates as they browse but don't buy," he told Marketing Week.

Conversion rates varied by referral method, with people visiting a website directly producing the highest rate, at 2.46%; but this had fallen from 2.81% a year earlier.

Smaller declines were evident for people clicking through from email, down from 2.29% to 2.18%, and search, down from 2.10% to 2.04%.

Only social reported an increase in conversion rates, from 0.99% to 1.17%, indicating that efforts to generate sales through these platforms are working and may be given an additional boost as people start to use the 'buy now' buttons the platforms have introduced.

Average order values wee also falling: the study reported a 2% drop to £78.54 from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015. Order values were actually up marginally for desktop, but had fallen significantly for smartphones (-15%) and tablets (-7%).

"Companies are not optimising the cross-sell or up-sell piece on mobile," Harris said.

"They are also not focusing on the research part of the mobile shopping experience, which lends itself to smaller AOV," he added. "In comparison, the desktop experience is optimised with tactics such as product recommendations that are focused on increasing AOV."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff