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8 Min Read

Important Ecommerce Metrics To Track For Increased Conversion Rates

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Shanaz Khan Khongthaw
Content Marketer At VWO

It’s important to understand that metrics simply show symptoms, and different symptoms become visible through different metrics. Tracking these metrics can help you uncover different behavioral trends on your website. To understand how ecommerce metric tracking can help increase average conversion rate, let us study them by taking an example of company “X” that sells 2 products: one for $1 and the other for $100. 

Conversion Rate

A conversion is any desirable activity performed by a visitor on your site. From an ecommerce business’s perspective, conversion is checkout. 

Conversion Rate = Number of Checkouts/Number of Unique Visitors

If you have an average of 1000 visitors to your site on any given day, and 50 of them become customers, your conversion rate is 5%. Optimizing for conversion rate will make more visitors into paying and returning customers and help you:

  • Convert more of your current visitors, which is more cost-effective than acquiring new visitors
  • Generate more revenue at the same cost

Since you are already paying in some way to acquire traffic to your website — through PPC, SEO, Email, etc — it would be a great idea to convert more of those visitors into customers. It brings you more revenue for each dollar spent on acquiring traffic.

It made sense.

However, let’s say, company X conducted an A/B test on the product page and this is what was found:

breakdown chart of results of A/B test on an ecommerce product page

Average Order Value

Sometimes it may so happen that revenues can drop because of a dip in conversions among high paying customers. To avoid such obstacles and tackle them, Average Order Value is what you should be tracking. It’s a direct indicator of what’s actually happening on the profits front.

Average Order Value(AOV) = Total revenue/Number of Checkouts

Comparing AOV against Cost Per Order gives a great idea of the profits you make on each order. Consider your Cost Per Order (shipping costs etc.) is $1 and your AOV is $10, giving you a profit of $9 per order. By increasing AOV by 10% to $11, you stand to gain an additional profit of $1 per order.

There are a lot of simple ways to help you bump up the AOV of your ecommerce business:

Set a Bar for Free Shipping

The first tip is to offer free shipping on purchases which are slightly more than your current AOV.

value proposition of free shipping during cart checkout

I say ‘slightly’ because free shipping is a tricky subject. You’ll end up increasing the AOV, but the additional shipping charge could reduce the total number of transactions. In fact, there’s a lot of research to suggest that the lack of free shipping is the biggest reason behind cart abandonments. A/B test between completely free shipping and one that is free after a minimum order value, the metrics to track closely are AOV, the number of sales, revenue, and cart abandonment rate.

Offer Discounts on Minimum Purchase

So you are planning to extend that generous 20% flat discount to clear all your dead stock? Improvise. Tell them they will get the discount on a minimum purchase of $50 or $100 or whatever figure sufficiently makes up for your lost margins in giving that discount. Give some, take some.

discount vouchers for your next purchase

Give Limited Period Offer

Shoppers tend to procrastinate and mull purchase decisions. To continue the ‘special discounts on minimum purchase of 50$’ tip, adding a limited duration to the offer can create a sense of urgency among visitors and encourage them to buy more in one go. For example, ‘Get 40% off on all products’ might motivate the visitor to browse the products. But when you say ‘Get 40% off on all products for next 2 days’, it compels them to act right away.

the influence of limited period offer on average order value of ecommerce store

Try Volume Discounts

Offer discounts on bulk purchases of the same product. Paperstone, an office supplies company, used VWO to launch a bulk discount deal on its website. It ran an A/B test and found the bulk discount deal increased its average order value by 18.94% and revenue by 16.85%.

discounts on volume purchases of products on ecommerce store

However, remember that you have to determine the right discount value that helps you acquire a new customer, and at the same time, doesn’t throttle your profit margins.

Upsell

Upselling, if implemented intelligently, is a great way to increase the value of an order. If a visitor is eyeing that 320GB Windows 7 laptop, just throw in the gleaming photo of that 500GB Windows 8.1 laptop on the side. Simply put, upselling is offering a similar but more expensive variant of the product to the buyer.

product recommendations on amazon product listing page

However, don’t try to maximize every transaction, and throw in random products just because you have them. Don’t be like one of those aggressive salespersons trying to sell the entire catalog to someone who hasn’t even made their first purchase.

Cross-sell

Purchasing that 500GB Windows 8.1 laptop? Would you need a laptop bag with it? Or perhaps a USB drive?

cross-selling on amazon ecommerce store

This is precisely what cross-selling is known as – soft selling complementary or additional products to your customer base. Studies show that cross-selling, even though it has always played second-fiddle to upselling the former is 20 times more effective than the latter. What you need to keep in mind is that the suggestions need to be relevant. A person buying a laptop will need a laptop bag, not necessarily a DSLR.

Offer Package Deals

A package deal or a combo offer is a cool way of selling two or more related products at a discounted price through your online shop. It’s a convenient way to increase customer spends, to move your slow-moving goods, and most importantly grow your average order value. The Hut offers a pretty smart discounted price on clothing bundles. Going with the stereotype that most men don’t enjoy shopping, and prefer to get all their stuff quickly, The Hut’s offer is well-targeted.

package deals for complete outfit options on fashion ecommerce store

Incentivize the Purchase

Always give something to the customer, and they will merrily return the favor. Whenever they make a purchase, either offer them a great loyalty program, cash-backs, or anything that is redeemable on their next purchase of minimum order value. For instance, you can give a $5 cashback offer on their next purchase worth $40, or a free gift voucher worth $10 on an order above $60, points for purchasing, and so on. This works two ways. One, customer satisfaction, and second, repeat purchases.

Apart from ensuring a second-time visit and fostering customer loyalty, this increases the order value. Customers tend to buy more in order to experience that all-important gratification that comes after having bought something for free (intended oxymoron). It’s easy – see how Paperstone increased AOV by 18.94% using A/B testing

Revenue Per Visitor

Again, it may so happen that lesser people end up purchasing on your website as a result of bumping up the minimum order value for free shipping, even though it successfully increased your AOV. Your revenue could take a hit harming your profits while still showing a higher AOV.

If company X tracks AOV alone, it could make the company blind towards conversion rate resulting in a revenue sheet like the one below:

breakdown chart of revenue per visitor for an ecommerce store

Revenue Per Visitor (RPV): Revenue Per Visitor combines both Conversions and AOV to give the whole picture. RPV is deceptively simple – it tells you how much revenue each unique visitor is driving. The trick here is to understand RPV from a different perspective.

We already know that,

RPV = Total Revenue/Total Unique Visitors(checkouts)

So we can rewrite the RPV equation this way: RPV = (AOV x Conversions)/Total Unique Visitors

And since (Conversions/Total Unique Visitors) = Conversion Rate

RPV = AOV x Conversion Rate

What’s the most important thing for any online ecommerce store? Revenue. For revenue, you need traffic. Once you are able to attract traffic, increasing revenue is a two-dimensional process:

  • Convert more visitors into paying customers (Conversion Rate)
  • Increase customer-spend per conversion (AOV)

RPV involves both these dimensions leaving no blind spots. If there’s a drop in RPV, it could be due to:

  • A sudden increase in visitors without any buying intent (drop in conversion rate): Check if there has been any recent marketing, such as email marketing activity that brought a lot of unqualified visitors with low buying intent. Use segmentation to understand what channels are bringing the right traffic.
  • Customers are buying less of high-value goods and more of low-value goods (drop in AOV): Consider using a recommendation engine.

Now, after going through all of these metrics and recommendations, Company X may wonder why use only unique visitors and not total visitors (unique and returning). 

Of all first time visitors to an ecommerce site, 99% won’t make a purchase. The typical buying cycle involves a visitor first visiting your site to check out the products, leaving to compare prices elsewhere, consulting a few friends, reading reviews and eventually a trip back to your site for the purchase (if at all a purchase decision is made). There could be even more steps involved here.

Using total visitors bloats up your metric denominator considerably, resulting in small figures and giving you less credit than you otherwise deserve.

This is not to say it’s a bad practice, just sub-optimal. (In fact, if for some reason, you are getting many orders from repeat buyers it might even make sense to use total visitors instead of unique visitors.)

Using ‘unique visitors’, on the other hand, paints a real-world picture of what’s happening with your users, who are, of course, unique.

Surely you track some metric/s that help increase your brand’s conversion rate! What metric/s have you found most useful to track, and why? Getting your perspective as a practitioner would be invaluable.

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Shanaz from VWO

Hi, I am Shanaz from the VWO Research Desk.

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