14 Key Ecommerce Metrics To Track For Business Success

Published on
December 7, 2023
Written by
Aaron Oh
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14 Key Ecommerce Metrics To Track For Business Success
A detailed explanation of Ecommerce metrics and KPIs with formulas, uses, and best practices.
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Your Ecommerce business is up and running, but how do you know if it’s doing well? Revenue is an obvious indicator, but other data sources can give you a clear picture of your company’s performance. To turn data into insights that inform your business decisions and strategies, you need metrics. For Ecommerce businesses, there are many useful e-commerce metrics you should track for a comprehensive view of your company’s capabilities.

What are Ecommerce metrics?

A metric is a standard of measurement used to assess, compare, and track performance. Metrics that are tailored to measure the performance of Ecommerce businesses are called Ecommerce metrics.

There are multiple Ecommerce metrics, each one meant to measure a specific activity in the process of selling goods/services online. For example, average order value (AOV) is an Ecommerce metric that assesses how much a customer spends on average in one transaction on your website, while conversion rate reflects the percentage of visitors to your website who bought something. What this tells us is that Ecommerce metrics can be categorised according to the stages in a customer’s online shopping journey:

Discovery metrics

They measure activities that create awareness about your brand and products. Reach is an example of a discovery metric, which measures how many followers (social media) and subscribers (email, loyalty programmes) you have.

Acquisition metrics

These measure how effective you are in acquiring new customers. An example of an acquisition metric is social media engagement, which tracks how many likes, clicks, shares, and comments you receive. Another example is cost per acquisition, which tells you how much you are spending to acquire a customer. Tracking this performance metric will ensure your marketing efforts reach their intended audience.

Engagement metrics

Engagement metrics – such as session duration and page views – help understand if your marketing campaigns are working and making a positive impact on the target audience. Companies use these to improve the customer experience.

Conversion metrics

Conversion metrics are crucial to finding out how effective you are in converting visitors into paying customers. High conversion rates are the success metrics all Ecommerce businesses want.

Retention metrics

Retention metrics assess the efficacy of business processes designed to attract returning customers. By using these, you can take stock of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Customer lifetime value is a key retention metric that tells you how much you have earned from a single customer.

Advocacy metrics

Advocacy metrics take stock of how satisfied your customers are with your products and brand and how likely they are to recommend them to others. Online sellers bank on customers to be vocal business advocates, leading to more sales and conversions. Net promoter score is an advocacy metric that measures how likely a customer is to refer you to others.

Examples of Ecommerce metrics, with categorization

Discovery metrics

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Engagement

Acquisition metrics

  • Cost per acquisition
  • Website Traffic
  • Email open rate
  • Email opt-in rate
  • Unsubscribe rate

Engagement metrics

  • Average session duration
  • Click-through rate
  • Bounce rate 

Conversion metrics

  • Sales conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Add-to-cart rate
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • Checkout abandonment rate
  • Return on ad spend

Retention metrics

  • Customer retention rate
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Repeat/returning customer rate
  • Return and refund rate
  • Customer acquisition cost

Advocacy metrics

  • Net promoter score
  • Subscription rate
  • Programme participation rate
  • Customer satisfaction rate

Why is it important to understand Ecommerce metrics?

Building a successful Ecommerce business is all about understanding consumer behaviour and industry trends. By providing fast, convenient ways to measure performance, Ecommerce metrics take the guesswork out of business. From setting up your store and creating products to measuring sales and developing marketing campaigns, there’s an Ecommerce metric for every process. Understanding, analysing, and tracking these will help you make data-backed decisions with a high probability of success.

How do you track Ecommerce metrics? You can use web analytics such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, as most businesses do.

How do you know what key Ecommerce metrics are best for your business?

It’s easy to get swallowed up and confused by the multitude of Ecommerce metrics in use. With the pressures of running a business, you don’t want to spend hours pouring over huge data sets, doing multiple calculations, and not knowing what to do with the results. The trick is to make a careful selection of key Ecommerce metrics that are most relevant to your business. Factors such as business size, industry, and products have a bearing on the Ecommerce metrics that truly matter to you.

Average order value, conversion rate, customer retention rate, customer lifetime value, and website traffic are some of the most relevant performance metrics for Ecommerce firms. Once you are comfortable using these essential performance metrics, you can add more to the mix for a more nuanced view.

How often should you check your key Ecommerce metrics?

It depends on the metric. Some Ecommerce metrics provide insights within a short period (a week) while others are worth monitoring only in longer gaps (a quarter, a year). Listed below are some key Ecommerce metrics and how often businesses usually check them:

Weekly

Website traffic, social media engagement, and impressions are Ecommerce metrics that are monitored week to week.

Bi-weekly

Average order value and cost per acquisition can be checked every two weeks. Bi-weekly metrics deal with larger sample sizes that aren’t overly influenced by variations.

Monthly

Email open rate and shopping cart abandonment rate are metrics that need a longer time window to study as they tend to be influenced by traffic, marketing patterns, and other such factors.

Quarterly

Customer lifetime value, subscription rate, customer retention rate, and time between purchases are metrics that don’t change day-to-day or even within a short period. They can be safely monitored every quarter.

Annually

Finally, it is good practice to compare your Ecommerce metrics year-on-year and see how your business has progressed (or regressed) during that period.

Key Ecommerce metrics to track

These 14 Ecommerce metrics are considered fundamental to Ecommerce businesses:

1. Conversion rate (CVR)

Conversion rate = (Total transactions / Total visits) x 100

Converting website visitors into paying customers is the primary concern of an Ecommerce business. To better understand conversion rates, you can filter them by traffic source – for example, tracking conversion rates on Facebook traffic to see if your ad campaign on this social network is working well. Ecommerce companies should aim for consistent conversion rates that rise over time.

Average conversion rates vary by product and industry. For example, conversion rates for an online store dealing in luxury handbags and another selling affordable streetwear will be vastly different. That said, the industry standard for a good Ecommerce conversion rate is 2-3%.

2. Average order value (AOV)

Average order value = Total revenue for a period / Total orders in that period

This performance metric is crucial in the highly competitive Ecommerce space. A low AOV means the average customer prefers to make small purchases on each order. All companies aim to increase their AOV as it is directly linked to profit. The insights gained from long-term AOV monitoring can help you improve pricing and marketing strategies. There are several ways to increase AOV. One strategy is upselling, which involves persuading buyers to make more expensive purchases or add upgrades/add-ons to their orders. Discounts, free shipping, and loyalty programmes are other ways to improve AOV. Given that AOV is measured in monetary terms, a higher value is naturally better.

3. Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value = Average order value x Number of transactions x Average customer lifespan

This metric measures the total revenue an Ecommerce business earns from an average customer over their entire relationship with the company. The higher the CLV, the more valuable a buyer is considered. The CLV is one of the most integral Ecommerce success metrics to track as it is closely related to retaining customers by forming lasting relationships and driving repeat sales. There is a very good reason why CLV is considered one of the five most important marketing metrics.

Don’t know how to calculate customer lifetime value? Here’s an example: A customer has been a frequent buyer from your online store for five years. They visit your website once a month (12 times a year) and spend SGD 200 on average per order. This customer’s CLV would be SGD 200 x 12 x 5 = SGD 12,000.

4. Cost per acquisition (CPA)

Cost per acquisition = Total campaign investment to acquire new customers / New customers acquired

Investment here is what you spend on advertising and marketing, discounts (if any), and anything else it takes to make a sale. This metric tells you how much time, effort, and money goes into turning a prospect into a customer. Track CPA if you want to know if your marketing efforts are effective. It also helps you reach the right audience through the right channels.

What is a good cost per acquisition? There is no clear answer to this question as CPA varies by business size, industry, and marketing channel. It is also influenced by factors such as marketing budget and organisational priorities (profit or growth). Comparing CPA with other key Ecommerce metrics like average order value and customer lifetime value will create a clearer and more accurate picture of business performance.

5. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost = Total sales and marketing spend / Number of customers acquired

Customer acquisition cost is the expense incurred in gaining a new customer. If you want to earn more from new customers than you spend to acquire them, this is the metric to track. Tracking CAC can improve your profit margins and get you a higher return on investment.

This metric is closely linked to customer lifetime value. For an Ecommerce company, a CAC that is three times lower than the CLV is considered ideal.

6. Customer retention rate (CRR)

Customer retention rate = (Customers at the end of a period - Customers acquired during that period) / Customers at the beginning of the period x 100

Ecommerce relies heavily on repeat customers. Not only does it cost less to retain customers than to attract new ones, recurring shoppers spend 67% times more. Repeat customers also make comparatively higher transactions and have a higher average order value. Retention rates are vital success metrics to track because they measure how happy and satisfied your customers are and inform your decisions on how to improve customer loyalty levels.

By some estimates, a 30-40% CRR is ideal in Ecommerce. Rewarding customers with discounts and loyalty programmes and improving their experience on your platform are some ways to improve retention rates.

7. Shopping cart abandonment rate

Shopping cart abandonment rate = 1 - (Completed purchases / Number of shopping carts abandoned before checkout) x 100

This metric is extremely specific to Ecommerce companies and evaluates the rate at which shoppers add products to their carts but leave the site without buying them. The global cart abandonment rate stands at 70%, according to a recent Statista report. This high figure demonstrates the challenge Ecommerce companies face in persuading visitors to become buyers. High shipping costs, better deals on other websites, and limited payment options are some reasons that drive shoppers to abandon their carts. By analysing cart abandonment rates, online sellers can take swift corrective steps such as offering easier payment options and providing a smoother interface.

Keep in mind, though, that shopping cart abandonment rates are more helpful when paired with other metrics such as average order value and conversion rate.

8. Checkout abandonment rate

Checkout abandonment rate = 1 - (Orders completed  / Checkouts initiated) x 100

Often confused with cart abandonment rate, checkout abandonment rate calculates the percentage of purchases that are abandoned after checkout is initiated. By monitoring both cart abandonment rate and checkout abandonment rate, it is possible to find out if the problem lies with the checkout process or elsewhere. Saving customers’ carts and sending them reminders to complete checkout are some measures you can take to lower your checkout abandonment rate.

9. Net promoter score (NPS)

Net promoter score = Percentage of customers who are ‘promoters’ - Percentage of customers who are ‘detractors’

To calculate NPS, you need to send your customers a survey asking them how likely, on a scale of 1 to 10, they are to recommend your company to others. A score of 10 reflects the highest likelihood. Customers with a score of 9 or 10 are called promoters while those with scores between zero and 6 are detractors. Survey participants are also asked to give the reason for their scores. The NPS can range from -100 to 100. While scores vary by industry, an NPS between 40 and 60 is considered good for Ecommerce firms.

The NPS is a valuable tool to measure customer loyalty as it covers all business processes, from product quality and price to customer experience. The scores and reasons provided help create awareness of customer pain points and drive companies to make improvements.

10. Refund and return rate

Refund and return rate = Returns accepted in a period / Total products sold in that period x 100

Processing returns and refunds are expensive, which is why online sellers must take care to keep them under control. All the more so because return and refund rates for Ecommerce are higher than for offline stores. A 20-30% return and refund rate is considered normal in Ecommerce. If you see a spike in returns and refunds, ask yourself if it is limited to a few products or if it is more general. This will allow you to make quick course corrections. Also, remember that returns are not necessarily evil. Online shoppers are happy to buy from sellers who have fair return and refund policies. Many buyers have been known to check out the retailer’s return policy before finalising a purchase.

11. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Return on ad spend = Total revenue from advertising / Total cost of advertising

There are no better success metrics than ROAS to see if your marketing efforts are working. Apart from telling you which campaign is effective and which isn’t, this metric can also be used to forecast revenue from future advertising efforts.

12. Traffic source

How are buyers finding you – via social media, paid ads, organic search, email newsletters, or word of mouth? Homing in on the channels that pull in the most customers is critical to an effective marketing strategy. Instead of spreading your resources thin across multiple channels, you can deploy the traffic source metric using Google Analytics to focus on the sources that are driving the highest customer traffic and are, therefore, worthy of your undivided attention.

13. Email click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate = (Number of people who clicked a link / Number of emails delivered) x 100

Despite the popularity of social media and search engine marketing, many Ecommerce businesses rely on good old email marketing as it allows them to communicate with customers directly. This makes email click-through rate one of the key Ecommerce metrics online sellers must not neglect. Email click-through rate measures how many subscribers click on to your website after receiving and opening an email and receiving a call-to-action (a link, button, or ad to click on).

Tracking email CTR over time will help you up your email marketing game considerably. Personalised emails that use good language and have a clear subject line and compelling call-to-action can contribute to a high CTR. A strong email marketing campaign can help Ecommerce companies drive sales, reach a wider audience, and build lasting relationships with customers. A CTR of 2.5% is considered good for Ecommerce.

14. Bounce rate

Bounce rate = (Number of people who bounce away / Number of people who visit your site) x 100

Bounce rate measures the number of people who navigate away from your website after visiting it, usually after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate indicates that a customer either did not find what they were looking for or that they found your site difficult to navigate. For online stores, a bounce rate slightly above 40% is considered normal. A few easy steps to keep your bounce rate low include improving navigation and user experience, providing only relevant and useful content, and ensuring a good site speed.

How to improve key Ecommerce metrics

Follow these best practices to get the most out of your key Ecommerce metrics:

Choose the right metrics

To know if a metric is relevant to your business or not, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does this metric directly impact my company’s success?
  • Will improving this metric make a significant contribution to my company’s success and profit?
  • Will tracking this metric improve my decisions?   

Curate an Ecommerce metrics dashboard

To keep track of your key Ecommerce metrics, create a dashboard for easy access and visualisation. Having all your key performance metrics in one place will allow you to track each one easily and quickly respond to any changes and challenges that arise. Additionally, the automation feature will save you time and reduce the chances of errors creeping in. Also, visualised data is much more convenient to consume and interpret. 

Measure performance against goals and industry benchmarks

Tracking key Ecommerce metrics is useful only if you have organisational goals (short-term and long-term) to assess the results against. It is also important to keep up with the current Ecommerce benchmarks for each metric to see how you stack up against your competitors.

Key differences

Ecommerce metrics vs Ecommerce KPIs

Ecommerce metrics are not to be confused with key performance indicators (KPIs), though the two go hand in hand and are often used interchangeably. A metric assesses a business process whereas a KPI measures the performance of that process. For example, if you track website traffic to increase your website conversion rate by 5%, website traffic is the metric while the 5% conversion rate is the KPI. Another example: tracking the average order value of your business as a metric while your goal of achieving an average order value of SGD 100 is the KPI. This shows that while both Ecommerce key performance indicators and Ecommerce metrics are quantifiable values, KPIs measure how successful you are in achieving a set goal while metrics measure the success of the processes that support the accomplishment of that goal.

Another difference between Ecommerce metrics and Ecommerce KPI metrics is that not every metric measures business performance in terms of the accomplishment of set targets. A KPI, on the other hand, always measures performance in terms of sales, marketing strategies, and growth. To sum it up, all KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs.

Ecommerce metrics vs Ecommerce analytics

Ecommerce analytics is the process of gathering data from various sources pertinent to your business, using this data to understand consumer behaviour and industry trends, and making informed decisions based on that data. Ecommerce analytics is often used as a substitute for Ecommerce metrics and KPIs but there are differences. The simplest way to differentiate between the three – metrics are standards of measurement and KPIs are performance metrics that measure if business goals are being met while Ecommerce analytics reveals what is driving performance.

Based on the source from which data is pulled, there are numerous types of Ecommerce analytics, including audience, behaviour, acquisition (of customers), conversion (from visitors to paying customers), and marketing activities.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aaron Oh is a seasoned content writer specialising in finance, insurance and tech industries. With a writing history at S&P Global, EdgeProp, Indeed, Prudential, and others, Aaron leverages finance knowledge and business insights to help businesses improve productivity and performance.
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