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How consumers shop online in 2016: Amazon and eBay lead the way, but visits down across the board

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The number of visits to the top 25 UK online retail sites has dropped by nearly 4% between Q1 and Q2 2016. While and continue to lead the top 25 online retailers in the UK, they too saw declines on more than 3% each. Only six retailers – lead by – saw an increase.

Analysing Similar Web data,, a global social commerce network that includes HotUKDeals in the UK, has revealed how consumers shopped online in the second quarter of 2016, unveiling how retailers have changed in terms of their growth compared to Q1 and how consumers accessed these merchants.

According to the figures, British consumers made 7.2 billion visits to the top 25 online retailers in the first half of 2016, according to Similar Web data. and continue to lead the table of the most popular internet retailers as consumers continue to favour outlets that sell a wide-range of products.

3.5 billion visits were made to the top 25 online retailers in Q2 2016 compared to 3.6 billion in Q1 – down 3.77%. As well as the total number of visits, the number of visits made to and also reduced in Q2 2016. Visits to in Q2 2016 dropped 3.02% compared to Q1 with 1.1bn visits (in Q1 they recorded 1.2 billion). lost 1.84% of visits in Q2 compared to the first three months of 2016 recording 1.1 billion visits in Q2.

Out of the 25 most popular online retailers, only six recorded an increase in the number of visits compared to Q1 2016. recorded the highest increase with visits up 12.46% on Q1 2016, followed by up 11.01%, up 7.29%, up 6.03%, up 3.36% and up 0.30%.

Danny Munday, general manager for UK (HotUKDeals) explains the results: “The increase in traffic to websites like B&Q (, Homebase and Screwfix could be accounted to the sales they have around bank holiday weekends, such as early May, when people are often making home improvements. Traffic may seem lower for some sites due to the fact that a lot of shopping would have been done during Q1 and the January sales.”

The majority of traffic still comes from mobile

In the first half of 2016, most visits – 3.8 billion – to the top 25 online retailers, according to Similar Web, came via mobile. In Q2, 1.8 billion visits were made via mobile, with the traffic share down 2.02% compared to Q1. The share of traffic from desktop was up 2.02% in Q2 2016 compared to Q1, with 1.7 billion visits made via PC’s and laptops.

Like Q1 2016, recorded the highest share of traffic from mobile in Q2 2016 with 68.91% with 20.6 million visits, which is down 3.14% percent., again recorded the highest share of traffic from desktop in Q2 2016 with 67.12% (11.6m visits), which is up 4.63% on Q1.

Google is still the most popular search engine

Looking at a combination of traffic from all sources such as referrals, paid searches and social media, most visits to the top 25 online retailers in Q2 2016 came from Google with more than 1.1 billion visits coming from the search engine giant (31.54% traffic share).

This traffic share is up 1.25% compared to Q1 2016. In Q2 2016, Facebook was the second most significant website that generated traffic to the top 25 online retailers with the social media giant contributing 50 million visits, or 1.42% traffic share.

Going direct

When shopping online, 41.05 percent of consumers browse directly to their preferred online retailer. As in Q1 2016, direct type-ins have been the most important source of traffic to the top 25 online retailers for Q2 2016, with 1.4 billion visits (41.05% share) coming from people entering the URL of their favourite retailers (down from 1.6 billion visits in Q1), with merchants such as , and benefitting from their high brand-awareness and loyal consumer base.

In Q2 2016, recorded the highest share of traffic from direct type-ins with 52.69% (9 million visits), replacing, which dropped to second place in Q2 2016 with a 48.68% traffic share (526 million visits).

Amazon recorded the third highest share of traffic from direct type-ins with 43.43% (494 million visits).

The second highest source of visits in Q2 2016 came from organic searches, which contributed 1.02 billion visits (29.18% share) – slightly down from 1.05 billion visits in Q1 (28.90% share).

Referrals from third party websites, such as HotUKDeals and Audible, are still the third most relevant traffic source, accounting for 682 million visits (19.43% share), down from 710 million in Q1 (19.45% share).

More visits came from paid searches in Q2 2016, which accounted for a 4.16% traffic share (146 million visits) compared to 3.68% in Q1 (134 million visits) with the likes of Currys (15.84% share/6.5 million visits), John Lewis (13.55% share/7.6 million visits) and Screwfix (13.02%/4.6 million visits) needing to pay for large parts of their reach.

Only 2.5% of visits came from social media

The traffic share from social media to the top 25 online retailers in Q2 2016 was down 0.12% on Q1 2016 with traffic from social media contributing 89 million visits (down from 97 million in Q1).

Like Q1 2016, received the highest share of visits from social media platforms with a 10.48% share of traffic (3.7 million visits) coming from sites such as Pinterest and Twitter.

Asos jumped up one place from Q1 2016 receiving the second highest share of visits from social media platforms (4.63% share/8.3 million visits), followed by Sports Direct (3.54% share/2.1 million visits).

Newsletter marketing and display ads have little relevance

Traffic from mail sources, such as newsletters, accounted for 111 million visits in Q2 2016 (3.17% share), which is actually 0.71% more than Q1 in terms of traffic share, but is still a low number in comparison to direct type-ins and referrals for example.

Display ads are still at the bottom of the table, with just 0.47% of traffic coming from this type of marketing with 16.5 million visits, although this is up from 8.5 million visits in Q1 2016 (0.23% traffic share).

In Q2 2016, New Look had the most success with display ads with a 2.54% share of traffic (982,987 visits), followed by Tesco with 2.39% (2.5 million visits) and House of Fraser with 2.23% (521,907 visits).

As in Q1 2016, Groupon had the highest success rate for traffic from mail, such as newsletters, with a 27.1% share (10.9 million visits).

Facebook still the most relevant social network for etailers

As in Q1 2016, Facebook is still the most relevant social media network in terms of generating traffic to the top 25 online retailers in Q2 2016 with a 55.75% traffic share (50 million visits). This is followed by YouTube (18.5 million visits – 20.78% share) and Reddit (8.39% share and 7.5 million visits). Twitter and Pinterest make up the fourth and fifth most relevant social networks.

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