PayPal transactions reveal customer payment preferences for Macy's, Target and Walmart

 In Behavioral Analysis, Case Studies, Competitive Analysis, Consumer Behavior, conversion trends, E-commerce Marketing, Featured, Popular, Site Analysis, Trends

PayPal is the most popular payment service worldwide, with a staggering 184 million active accounts and 14 million merchants globally. The company’s recent Q1 earnings report indicates impressive growth, with a 19 percent increase in revenue, bringing the quarterly revenue to $2.54 billion in Q1, 2016, and a 26 percent increase in transactions to 1.4 billion in the first quarter.

As PayPal is a secure and comfortable method to buy everything from your favorite clothing brand to gadgets and household necessities, we wanted to compare consumers’ PayPal usage across leading U.S. retailers, including Macy’s, Walmart and Target. We found that Walmart’s adage of “Save Money. Live Better.” brought in the most transactions, with customers 24.5 percent more likely to use PayPal than Macy’s and Target customers. Our data also indicates that the amount of PayPal transactions was cut by nearly half in March, most likely due to a service outage as the overall conversion volumes remained stable month-over-month.

So what type of consumers use PayPal the most? How do debit and credit card purchases compare to PayPal transactions? And which retailer has found its way into the hearts of millennials?

Will you be using debit, credit, or PayPal?

We analyzed the payment methods Americans used on Macy’s, Walmart and Target in Q1, 2016 to detect payment and conversion trends for these leading e-commerce websites. Our data revealed that more than 22 percent of the customers across the board chose to checkout with PayPal, with Walmart leading the trend with nearly a fourth of their customers using PayPal.

Our data also identified a significant decrease in PayPal transaction activity in March, that can only be explained by a service outage inhibiting consumers and merchants from accessing their accounts, transferring funds and receiving payment. This outage wasn’t covered quite so extensively as the previous one in October 2015, however the data paints a clear picture, with a 43 percent MoM decrease in PayPal transactions across sites and customer cohorts, compared to a one percent MoM decrease in total purchases. Target and Walmart were impacted more than Macy’s, most likely due to their higher volume of PayPal customers compared to Macy’s.

% of customers using PayPal out of total customers in Q1, 2016
Brand January February March February-March changes
Macy’s 22.3% 21.6% 13.8% -29.8%
Target 22.3% 23.3% 12.8% -44.9%
Walmart 29.6% 27.4% 15.8% -44.7%
Averages 26.6% 25.6% 14.8% -43%

January and February transactions paid with PayPal averaged at 26.14 percent of the total purchases for all three retailers, which falls in line with the recent report that 30 percent of U.S e-commerce transactions are processed by PayPal.

Men and Millennials favor PayPal

Customer demographics don’t reveal a lot about the consumers, but it does add a layer of information that might be interesting and beneficial in driving business. We found that there are major gender and age differences in the PayPal usage for these retailers. First, men were 56 percent more likely to use PayPal than women on all three e-commerce sites, with the biggest gender gap found on Target, where men were 85 percent more likely to use PayPal than women.

As for the age differences, unsurprisingly tech savvy Millennials are a third more likely to use PayPal than older generations, and the gap deepens among younger Millennials (age 18-24), that are 44 percent more likely to use the service than older generations.

Millennial (18-24 years) % of PayPal customers from total purchasers
Brand January February March Q1 aggregate
Macy’s 32.9% 20.2% 12% 21.1%
Target 35.1% 38.1% 23.9% 32.6%
Walmart 39.2% 34% 27.1% 33.8%
Averages 37.3% 33.2% 23.7% 31.7%

What does surprise us though is Macy’s Millennial market share; the classic retailer consistently had the lowest share of Millennials out of all three.

Bottom line: Behavioral analysis lets you to delve deeper into customer data to uncover insights and opportunities, based on your audience’s actual actions. In this analysis we focused on consumers’ preferred payment method and discovered an unexpected service outage. This just goes to show that when you have the data (and analyze it properly) the insights will follow.

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