An ecommerce company's success depends on how well it understands statistics that track sales and measure operational performance. In this article, we’ll cover which key metrics businesses should monitor for ecommerce and why. Plus, you’ll find formulas and benchmarks to gauge the success of your online selling efforts.
What Are Ecommerce Metrics?
Ecommerce metrics measure the sales and business processes of a company that sells products online. For example, an ecommerce metric might show how many website visitors become customers or the average value of all customer orders.
Tracking these numbers gives companies insight into their overall performance and how their customers are shopping. They also reveal whether the business is on an upward or downward trajectory and if their strategies are working or not, providing information that could shape decisions and future plans.
What Is the Difference Between Ecommerce Metrics and KPIs?
Ecommerce key performance indicators (KPIs) can be a specific category of metrics that leadership has recognized will provide the critical insights into their business they need to monitor the health of the business and adjust strategy as needed.
A business should track KPIs that are in alignment with its business goals.
- Sales conversion rate is one of the most critical and widely used ecommerce metrics.
- Ecommerce metrics can be categorized by where a person is in the buyer’s journey, from discovery through advocacy.
- It's vital to track other operational business metrics in concert with your ecommerce sales and marketing metrics to see the big picture and grasp the relationships between these numbers.
How to Measure Ecommerce Success
To measure ecommerce success, you must watch the metrics that directly relate to business goals and see how they trend over time. By comparing your current ecommerce metrics against your performance in the previous period (this week compared to last week or year-over-year), you can measure how you have improved or come up short. Regularly measure the most crucial metrics and consider changes based on what those metrics reveal.
How Often Should I Track Ecommerce Metrics?
You'll want to review some ecommerce metrics more often than others. Some metrics will provide revealing insights weekly, while others that offer more long-term and strategic guidance may only be worth evaluating at the end of each quarter.
Here’s a list of ecommerce metrics organized by how often most companies check them:
- Weekly metrics
- Website traffic
- Social media engagement
- Impressions, or views, of digital ads
- Bi-weekly metrics
- Average value of all customers orders (or "average order value")
- Cost per acquisition of new customer (or "cost per acquisition")
- Open rate on marketing emails
- Percentage of customers who place products in an online cart but don't complete the purchase (or "cart abandonment rate").
- The total amount your company earns from a customer over the long term, representing many purchases over months or years (or "customer lifetime value").
- Campaign-based Tracking for A/B testing
- By performing A/B testing, you can test and track how customers react to a marketing message, like sending promotional emails on Fridays versus Mondays, or the timing of a sale. This should be done regularly but is dependent on marketing campaigns and the frequency of email sends.
Top Ecommerce Metrics
Ecommerce companies have identified a number of metrics that help them better understand their operations and how they change over time. These metrics reveal how customers engage with the company, its products and its website.
Here are 14 fundamental ecommerce metrics that most online sellers monitor:
Sales Conversion Rate
Divide your company's total online sales volume by the number of visits to your online store to find this number. Many believe the sales conversion rate is the single most important ecommerce metric.
Sales conversion rate = Total transactions / Total visits x 100
The average ecommerce sales conversion rate is around 2% to 3%.
Since sales conversion rate is such an important metric, any incremental lift can make a dramatic difference in overall sales. In order to optimize each part of the shopping process, organizations can filter conversion rates by specific traffic sources or purchase paths to see where they are doing well and where they need to improve. For example, you might track conversion rates on traffic from different Facebook advertisements to see what campaigns are performing well. You might monitor the conversion rate for a certain category of products to see if they’re worth spending extra marketing resources to drive more category page traffic. Learn more about other sales metrics by reading our post on sales KPIs and metrics.
Website traffic measures the number of visits to your website and their quality. You can measure traffic by total visits or total page views, and many companies pay close attention to how long the average visitor spends on the site. Website traffic comes from both paid (search and social advertising, retargeting, affiliate marketing) and free (organic search, social media, direct word of mouth, referral) sources. Businesses must invest time and effort into creating engaging content marketing and running cost-effective advertising to drive more website traffic.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Use this metric to determine the cost of acquiring a customer from a specific marketing campaign or the cost of encouraging a non-paying user to take a certain action like submitting their contact information.
Cost per acquisition = Total spent on campaign to acquire new customers or users / New customers or users acquired
The metric can help you optimize campaigns for attracting new customers and identify your most and least effective marketing efforts when compared against the customer lifetime value (CLV) — as long as it's cheaper to acquire customers than what they're worth long-term, keep the traffic flowing. The best way to determine if your cost per acquisition is on par is by comparing it to your customer lifetime value. Your goal is to keep a profitable ratio, while reaching as wide an audience as possible.
Customer Acquisition Cost
This number is the total overall cost to acquire a new customer. The metric includes things like producing, storing and shipping products that a customer might purchase. You should aim for your customer lifetime value to be three times the customer acquisition cost (3:1 ratio) to keep profitable customers.
Customer acquisition cost = Total marketing and sales expenses / Number of customers acquired
Customer acquisition cost is an essential metric for online retail because it tells businesses whether they’re operating profitably and earning more from new customers than they’re spending to acquire them. It is also one of the most important business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce metrics because it also considers associated selling costs (sales rep overhead and commissions) beyond the lead acquisition spend. Learn how the right platform can help B2B ecommerce companies succeed.
Average Order Value (AOV)
Your company’s average order value is the amount an average customer spends in a single transaction.
Average order value = Dollar value of all sales / Number of customer purchases
Companies typically target a higher average order value, but this number could vary greatly depending on what a business sells and how many items clients usually buy (think about a $40 order of household cleaning products versus a $2,000 furniture set, for example). Organizations can increase the average order value by selling accessory items for purchases at a discount or recommending associated items. Loyalty programs and offering free shipping on orders above a certain dollar value also helps.
Revenue by Channel
Revenue by channel tells your company which advertising or communication channels are bringing in the most revenue.
You can use a web analytics tool like Google Analytics to monitor the revenue delivered through many different channels. You can also look at data from specific channels, like YouTube, to calculate the effectiveness of advertising there. As you measure the revenue that comes in from each channel, you’ll want to adjust how much you're investing in each channel to make the most of your budget.
Micro to Macro Conversion Rates
Micro conversions are smaller actions a customer might take that lead to a larger goal, like a sale. A micro conversion could be the number of visitors who click to see more product details or download a white paper. Those micro conversions can lead to macro conversions, i.e. purchasing your product or service.
An example of a micro conversion formula might be:
White paper download conversion =
White paper downloads in a period / Total website traffic during that period x 100
Customer Retention Rate
This metric measures how well a company maintains its customer base over a specified period of time. Products-based companies can expect a 63% average customer retention rate, while services-based businesses typically see higher rates around 82%.
Customer retention rate =
(Customers at end of a time period – Customers acquired during the period) / Customers at beginning of period x 100
Businesses can increase their customer retention rate by improving customer service, creating loyalty programs and offering discounts for repeat purchases. Learn more about key customer service metrics by reading our post on customer service KPIs and metrics and our tips for improving the customer experience.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
A company's shopping cart abandonment rate is how often customers place products in a virtual shopping cart while shopping online but then leave the site before they check out or purchase anything. Most online retailers lose 60-80% of their shopping carts, with top performers only losing 25%.
Shopping cart abandonment rate =
1 – (Completed purchases / Number of shopping carts abandoned before checkout) x 100
This rate sheds light on whether the shopping and checkout process is customer-friendly or causes a lot of friction that convinces potential customers to look elsewhere. To reduce cart abandonment rate, companies can make the checkout experience faster and easier to use. They can also retarget abandoners by sending emails or advertising campaigns to remind them that they didn’t complete the purchase.
Repeat/Returning Customer Rate
Use this formula to measure the portion of customers who have bought from your company more than once. An acceptable repeat customer rate varies by industry, the global average is 27%, so you should strive to have an above-average rate in your vertical. Subscription-based and consumable goods companies have a high repeat customer rate (60-80%) while durable goods are much lower (5-15%). If you offer a wide variety of products instead of a small selection of niche items, you have a better chance of a repeat sale.
Repeat/returning customer rate =
Customers who made two or more purchases / Total customers x 100
Ecommerce Churn Rate
The ecommerce churn rate shows the quantity of customers or users a company loses over a specific period. Many customers churn away from your business as they lose interest in your products or services. Even if your sales cycle takes years to generate a repeat sale, you can keep shoppers engaged with content marketing on your website, email or social channels.
Ecommerce churn rate =
Customers lost during a specific period / Total customers during that period x 100
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Customer lifetime value measures the total amount of revenue your company receives from an average customer over the entire time they are a customer.
Customer lifetime value =
Average order value in a period x Purchase frequency per period for average customer x Number of periods average customer is retained
This metric illustrates what an average customer means to your bottom line — not just for a single purchase or even during a month or year, but over their entire lifetime with your company. You can increase this metric by increasing your customers‘ purchase frequency or average order value. By providing pristine support and delivering relevant marketing campaigns, companies can drive more repeat sales from their existing customers. Customer lifetime value can also help guide your new customer acquisition spending as these metrics are usually compared to it.
Refund and Return Rates
This metric tracks how often customers return products as a percentage of your total sales.
Refund and return rate = Returns company accepted in a period / Total number of products sold in period x 100
You can also track the return rate based on revenue:
Refund and return rate = Dollar value of all products returned in a period / Total dollar value of sales during period x 100
In order to attract first-time buyers, it’s important to have fair return policies to provide shoppers with peace of mind if they don’t like the product they receive or if it doesn’t fit. However, you also don't want a high return rate because processing returns is expensive. Ecommerce stores average a 30% return rate while brick-and-mortar shops see less than 9%. You might analyze return rates for specific products to see whether some products are especially problematic. Be sure to have high-quality images and detailed product descriptions with specifications about all products on your website, so customers understand what they’re buying.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The Net Promoter Score measures how likely customers are to recommend your company to other people. The average NPS varies significantly by industry. To get this score, companies send customers a survey asking them to rate the likelihood they would recommend the company on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being the highest likelihood.
Net promoter score =
Percentage of surveyed customers who are "promoters" – Percentage of company's surveyed customers who are "detractors"
Those who rate a company a nine or ten are "promoters. Those who rate it at seven or eight are "passives." Those who give a rating of zero through six are "detractors." The resulting score can range from -100 to +100 based on the number of detractors; the average is +32. You can get helpful information by asking respondents to share the reason for their rating. Some experts suggest reaching out to detractors and passives to ask them how your company could improve.
Email Opt-in Rate
Email opt-in rate is measured by tracking how many new website visitors opt-in to receive emails from your company. The industry average email opt-in rate is 3-5%. An email opt-in rate is a good barometer of how people feel about your company and how interested they are in it.
Email opt-in rate =
Number of people opting in for emails in a period / Website visits during period x 100
Email marketing remains an effective way to drive revenue and attract new customers, so having people willing to receive emails from your company is important. You might improve the rate by prominently displaying the opt-in option on your site and offering something of value to your visitors who sign up for emails, like a discount on their first purchase.
Ecommerce Funnel Metrics
There are several metrics that help companies understand how they’re moving potential customers through the sales "funnel." The first stage of that funnel is a customer discovering the company, and later stages include acquisition, conversion and advocacy. Tracking and evaluating ecommerce funnel metrics can identify any issues that are leading prospects to exit the funnel before they complete a purchase.
Discovery Phase Ecommerce Metrics
Use these metrics at each stage of the journey to track how potential customers find your website and better grasp how they move through the stages of the buyer’s journey.
Any time someone sees your brand, whether through an online ad or another piece of content, that’s an impression. An impression can happen through paid ads on third-party websites, Facebook ads, web search results and in a variety of other ways.
An online analytics tool will tell you how many impressions you receive collectively or for any specific piece of content.
Reach represents the total number of people who see an advertisement or other content from your company. Frequently, reach refers to paid advertising content, like a website or Facebook ad. The term also refers to your email subscribers.
Think of reach as the number of unique people who see your content, while an impression means that content was delivered to someone's feed. Use digital analytics to measure your content’s reach.
Engagement represents the level of online interactions people have with your company. You might measure it through clicks on certain website pages, how long visitors remain on your website or clicks on paid ads on other sites.
Web analytics tools can measure each of these metrics.
Acquisition Phase Ecommerce Metrics
These metrics look at how you’re attracting customers to your website.
Traffic by channel
This metric allows you to identify how many customers your company is attracting through specific channels. You may find Twitter ads are bringing more visitors to your site than other channels or that your investment in search engine optimization (SEO) has suddenly brought a surge in visitors. After reviewing these numbers, you can increase investment in channels that are garnering the most traffic.
You can track traffic by channel through an online analytics platform. Read our guide to learn more about improving SEO for your ecommerce website.
Cost per acquisition (CPA) by channel
This metric uses revenue by channel to help you better understand how successful your marketing investments are in attracting customers. The formula is similar to the cost per acquisition formula, except it focuses on costs for a specific channel.
Cost per acquisition by channel =
Total spent on certain channel to acquire new customers / New customers acquired through channel
The metric can help you determine the best investment of your money to attract new customers. Most new customer acquisition efforts are tracked as marketing campaigns and website analytics tools like Google Analytics can filter traffic sources and channels/mediums.
Email open rate
An email open rate is the percentage of people who receive and open marketing emails from your company. Your email marketing or marketing automation system can track this metric.
Email open rate =
Number of people who open marketing emails / Number of marketing emails sent x 100
The email open rate might vary based on the day, time of day or time of year you send an email or the frequency with which you send them. You can learn more about marketing metrics by reading our post on marketing KPIs and metrics.
A company's unsubscribe rate is the percentage of subscribers on your email list who unsubscribe from regular newsletters or other emails.
Unsubscribe rate = Unsubscribe requests / Total number of emails sent to list
Email list growth rate
This metric monitors the expansion of your email subscribers. The number changes as new people sign up to receive your emails, and others unsubscribe from your emails.
Email list growth rate = (New subscribers during period – People who unsubscribed during period) / Total subscribers at beginning of period x 100
Email conversion rate
This formula measures the percentage of email recipients who open and click the email and take another intended action like completing a purchase or downloading a brochure.
Email conversion rate =
Email recipients who complete intended step after clicking-through email / Total email recipients x 100
Email click-through rate
This rate calculates the number of email recipients who open the email and click on a link to your website.
Email click-through rate =
Email recipients who complete intended step after clicking-through email / Total email recipients x 100
Ecommerce Conversion Metrics
These metrics demonstrate how effectively your company's ecommerce site is in converting visitors into customers:
Conversion rate by channel
A more specific version of your overall sales conversion rate, this metric tracks your sales conversions based on which channel brought the visitor to your website. For example, you might monitor the conversion rate of social media ads, third-party website ads or organic search engine rankings.
Conversion rate by channel = Total sales derived from specific marketing channel / Total visits from specific channel x 100
This metric measures the percentage of website visitors who add products to a virtual shopping cart, including those who add products but don't actually make a purchase.
Add to cart rate =
Website sessions where visitor adds products to cart in a specific period / Total sessions during that period x 100
Checkout abandonment rate
This metric is related to but different from the shopping cart abandonment rate. Checkout abandonment rate measures customers who go beyond the shopping cart and start the checkout process, but do not complete a purchase. It's important to measure this separately from shopping cart abandonment — measuring both will help clarify where in the checkout process is the primary source of friction.
Checkout abandonment rate = 1 – (Completed purchases / Number of checkout processes started but abandoned) X 100
Average order value by channel
This measures the average order value explained earlier, but based on the channel that brought the customer to your website.
Average order value by channel = Dollar value of all sales through specific channel / Number of sales initiated by that channel
Ecommerce Retention Metrics
These numbers show whether your company is effective at holding onto customers who have already bought from the business before.
Early repeat customer rate
A variation of the repeat customer rate, this metric gives insight into the number of repeat customers who make another purchase a short time after their first purchase.
Early repeat customer rate = Customers who made second purchase within defined short time period after first purchase / All customers who made first purchase in period x 100
Program participation rate
This formula measures participation in any of your company's customer-focused programs, like loyalty programs. Higher participation in such programs generally translates to repeat customers.
Program participation rate =
Customers part of a program in a specific period / Total customers informed about the program in period x 100
Customer Advocacy Metrics
Customer advocacy metrics provide insights into the portion of your shoppers who are more than just customers — they’ve become not only loyal shoppers, but advocates for your products or services.
Social media engagement
Measuring social media engagement with your company’s pages offers insights into how potential and existing customers react to your products and services and your marketing and social media campaigns.
Closely monitoring social media engagement also helps develop deeper relationships with customers, fosters loyalty and gives you guidance on how to improve products.
Companies can measure social media engagement by monitoring:
- Likes per post (includes "likes" on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or similar affirmations on other platforms)
- Shares per post (includes shares on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets on Twitter, etc.)
- Comments per post
- Clicks per post
Ecommerce Metrics Dashboards
Ecommerce metrics dashboards are often part of ecommerce software or an ecommerce platform. They give company leaders a sense of how their ecommerce operations are performing and any meaningful trends that may shape their strategies. With input from a variety of stakeholders, companies should decide on a handful of KPIs and other metrics to track that align with big-picture goals and make it easy to see the status of online sales.
Two categories of metrics are especially important to include on a dashboard. One category includes metrics that illustrate the financial health for your business — revenue, profits, costs and the like. The other category includes measurements for overall website traffic, traffic by channel and engagement.
- Website Traffic
- Average Order Value
- Customer Acquisition Cost
- Sales Conversion Rate
- Customer Retention Rate
- Cart Abandonment Rate
To learn more about how to monitor and manage key parts of your ecommerce business, read our post on operational KPIs and metrics to learn how to measure the efficiency of your company’s operations.
Companies should also make sure they understand the differences between an on-premises and cloud ecommerce platform to determine which is right for them. They should also be sure to select a system that has built-in reporting capabilities that will make it easy to track the metrics outlined here and others critical to their business.
Break Down Ecommerce Metrics Silos
Your dashboard must focus not only on ecommerce metrics, but on other parts of your business, like order management and inventory. All those metrics together can provide a comprehensive picture of the overall health of your business, and make it easier to catch problems early on. For example, if your conversion rate jumps by 50% during a sale, do you have enough inventory on-hand to keep with demand? Is a certain advertising channel still profitable if the cost per acquisition keeps climbing?
It’s also smart to create an integrated ecommerce dashboard. This dashboard should include metrics related to order management, inventory, merchandising and other areas of your business that are connected to ecommerce. You'll want to track all of these numbers in a single dashboard, because all are crucial to the success of your business.