Thinking Globally: Amazon Behavior in the U.S. and Europe

 In Browsing

We live in a world where online shopping has become the norm. And the name Amazon is synonymous with this expanding retail jungle.

With thirteen online retail platforms spanning four continents, Amazon is no longer the edgy online bookseller it was starting out in Seattle in the mid-90’s.

As Amazon has streamlined online shopping experiences across countries, have they also homogenized Internet shopping behaviors? Or, do global behaviors on Amazon reflect particular nationalities, conserving something like indigenous purchasing habits?

To answer these questions, we looked at data on Amazon traffic and buying behavior for five countries, and the results revealed noteworthy insights into more localized customer journeys.

Using Jumpshot data in January of 2018 we looked at several aspects of global traffic behavior in Amazon marketplaces in the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, and France by studying traffic and purchase behavior on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.es, and amazon.fr

Who’s looking?

Just looking at total daily unique visitors, Amazon.com, as you might expect, takes the biggest volume, but compared to the country population for each site, the picture is a bit more even.  

Measured this way, the US still generates the largest percentage—drawing visits from just over 11% of the US population on average in the month of January. But Germany and the UK see rates of unique visits fairly close to that number, pulling in 10.4% and 9.4%, respectively. The Germans clicked themselves into the lead for two days in January (both Sundays, by the way, though more on this later).

The Spanish and French Amazon sites, by contrast, generated unique visitors representing on average 5.3% of their populations. The, French population jumped to 7.48% on January 10th, which is the day les soldes started this year. And unique visitor traffic to amazon.fr stayed escalated (around 5 and 6% of the population) for the following couple of days.

So what exactly are les soldes?

Les soldes could be likened to a clearance sale. Literally les soldes translates to “balances” in French. But in France, clearance sales are restricted to two five-week periods—one in winter and one in summer—when retailers are allowed by regulation to decrease the price of items to sell at a loss. At any other time of year, retailers are prohibited by law from selling at a loss and the word “reduction” (reduction) is used. This article from last summer gives more details on the law.

This year les soldes ran from January 10 – February 20 and will have another run June 27 – August 7. With eCommerce, many French have transitioned their shopping to the online marketplace. In 2010 The Rude Baguette reported that 7–10% of consumers in 2010 were planning on doing their soldes shopping online, which is consistent with the numbers we see around January 10 for Amazon alone.

Conversion rates may drag the month before les soldes while unique site visits may increase.

But let’s return to our sheep, as the French say. The bump in amazon.fr traffic this last January was probably from millions of French coworkers standing around taking one of their five daily coffee breaks scrolling through Amazon for a bon achat (good buy) on ski pants.

For the culturally curious, here’s a bit more information about this much-loved French pastime.

Buying Cycle Indicator for Visit Conversion Rates

Just as it drives the highest rate of traffic, the US also has the highest conversion rate. Germany and the UK switch places in terms of relative strength for Amazon buyers.

The weekly buying cycle applies to conversion rates too and tends to be even more pronounced as a pattern for conversion rates than for visits, with more visits at the beginning of the week that lead to purchases.

The US demonstrates a more pronounced buying cycle with higher conversion rates in the middle of the week (T, W, Th), 1–2 percentage points higher than over the weekend. This cycle is similar but less pronounced for other countries.

It’s good to keep in mind that the conversion rate also reflects national per capita GDP, spending habits, and country-by-country browsing habits.

Spain’s per capita GDP (according to 2017 IMF numbers) is significantly less than that of the US which means less buying power for an average person in Madrid than in, say, Chicago. And, with their tendency to buy on credit, Americans are not globally known for thrift .

Spain Leads in Mobile Traffic

This is not to say that Spain does not stand out. The Spanish market seems to be on mobile devices, with a much higher rate of mobile interaction.

There tend to be lower conversion rates on mobile devices than on desktop, so this could help contribute to the fact that Spain has the lowest conversion rate (and traffic in general).

Life in the Paid Lane

The paid/organic traffic split was relatively even across all countries, an easy ballpark 40/60 split. But let’s note that the US had the most organic traffic and Germany had the most paid traffic.

This could reflect that in the US Amazon is a natural destination. When people think eCommerce, they think Amazon. And Germans are using ads to get where they’re going with greater frequency than Americans, and certainly more often than we at The Digital Consumer would have anticipated.

The Take-Homes

  • Americans, more than others, are using Amazon as a destination for eCommerce and this may be reflected in higher organic search traffic and higher conversion rates.
  • German use of ads on the customer journey is higher than expected (40%).
  • Spain has the highest share of mobile device traffic, nearly 5% more than the second highest (UK).
  • Amazon.fr traffic predictably increases during les soldes.
  • Weekly conversion rates show a buying cycle, most pronounced in the US, with site visits earlier in the week more likely to end in a purchase. And rates are predictably lower over the weekend.
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