Overview: when is the average order value in online shopping the highest?

When are online shoppers inclined to spend more? When is the best time to run an advertising campaign? We analysed data on purchases from 4,000 online stores – in this article we bring you the most important facts concerning the average order value.

Why is the average order value important?

Average order value (AOV) shows how much shoppers spend on average in an online store, and changes in AOV over time hold valuable information about when shoppers are inclined to spend more and when they are clutching their purse strings more tightly. Analysing the purchasing behaviour of online shoppers can help you schedule your sales and marketing activities for just the right moment in order to boost your online store’s sales.

Now let’s dive into the data to uncover some facts!

The data we are analysing concern the last six months, i.e. the period from the beginning of December to the end of May this year. As we are focusing on changes in order value, the results below are presented as percentages, with a value of 100% being equal to the average shopping cart total on 1 January.

Average order value by month

The month-by-month breakdown reveals that in January and February, the average order value in online stores is at least 10% lower than in other months. Purchases consist of fewer or lower-priced products. Compared to December, we can see a big drop – after pre-Christmas gift-buying, online shopping goes through a decline in the first two months of a year.

Hence this tip for online store operators: In January and February, it is better to focus on promoting lower-priced products, as expensive items will see fewer purchases.

Average order value by week

The week-by-week breakdown shows the same trend as above, but in more detail. What is perhaps interesting is that shopping cart totals increase significantly in the last two weeks of December. This indicates that many large purchases are left to the very last minute. From the beginning of a new year, average shopping cart value increases steadily nearly week by week. This purchasing behaviour is driven by two factors:

  1. When a new year arrives, just after Christmas, shoppers get a little more conservative.
  2. Inflation is steadily driving up prices. Thus, the contents of a shopping cart may remain virtually unchanged, but the price of the purchase will be higher than last year.

Average cart value by date

Next, let’s see if the average order value of an online store also depends on the date. According to popular belief, people are more generous with their money – willing to buy more and pay more – after their payday on the earlier dates of each month. By the same logic, in the second half of a month, are people more strapped for cash and consequently make fewer purchases and buy lower-priced goods? Wrong. In reality, there are no major differences between people’s spending habits in the early, middle, and late days of a month. If anything, the average shopping cart value actually goes up towards the end of a month!

Key takeaway: People are willing to buy more expensive items at the end of a month, too!

Average cart value by day of the week

Shopping cart values are usually highest on Mondays. In the first days of a week, average orders made in online stores are larger, decreasing as the week progresses. The lowest shopping cart values are seen on Saturdays.

Key takeaway: Short-term promotions should not be scheduled for the weekend. Instead, the best time for these is the beginning of the week.

Fluctuations in average order value can vary across different sectors of the market, and it is highly likely that the customers of each online store have their own behavioural patterns. Analysing the sales figures for your online store in the same way as we did above can give you valuable information about the peculiarities of your buyers, which you can then use for more intelligent planning of your marketing activities.