One of the great advantages of online sales is the possibility of checking their successes or failures in detail on the basis of data. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) play a decisive role in such e-commerce analytics. They can be used to create reference values that can be used to identify what is going well and what is perhaps going less well.
In order to gain truly useful insights, it is important to select the right KPIs for your own e-commerce goals. Read on to find out how best to go about this, which common goals can be examined with e-commerce KPIs, and other useful facts about the beneficial use of key figures and analytics.
The first clues to answering this question were already given at the beginning: E-commerce KPIs are key performance indicators that can be used to monitor the success or failure or general performance of online sales.
A single KPI is a specific fact that plays an important role in the e-commerce process and can be measured. For example, returning buyers over a certain period of time are a typical indication of successful or less successful e-commerce measures.
The repurchase rate can be clearly defined using the formula "(repurchasers x 100) / first-time buyers = repurchase rate in percent". This gives e-commerce companies a clear value (indicator).
This indicator in turn serves as a point of reference against which an objective can be examined.
If the goal is to increase repurchases, e-commerce companies can use the repurchase rate KPI to check whether the measures taken to achieve the goal are working or not. This is usually done by predefining a certain value to be achieved and then looking at how the repurchase rate develops over a longer period of time.
With this simplified explanation, it becomes immediately clear that KPIs and goals are closely linked. Before determining KPIs, central goals should be set that are to be achieved or whose progress is to be examined. Afterwards, it is essential to define really suitable KPIs for the respective objectives. If gross mistakes are made, the indicators may, in the worst case, not be meaningful at all.
It is important to distinguish between KPIs and PIs (Performance Indicators) or values. KPIs are actual key indicators, i.e. those that represent an important key to success. In this context, PIs serve in particular to measure KPIs.
After describing the basic properties and function of KPIs, we will now look more specifically at their use.
Before you can carry out useful e-commerce analytics with the help of KPIs, you must determine the key figures that are really suitable for your goals. It is advisable to proceed as follows.
Without clear objectives, there are no points to check with the help of KPIs. You should define your objectives as clearly and precisely as possible. Only in this way can you really analyze precisely whether they have been achieved.
Ideally, various smaller targets should be specified, as these are relatively easy to achieve on the one hand, but also offer the possibility of more differentiated regulation in the fulfillment process and can therefore ultimately be checked on a smaller scale.
In addition, it is very important to choose goals in such a way that you can actually fulfill them. The so-called SMART principle helps with this. As an acronym, SMART summarizes the most important characteristics of sensibly aligned objectives. SMART goals are defined as follows.
- Specific: Only a specific goal is an efficiently achievable goal. The objective "Operate e-commerce successfully" would be far too general. Define on a smaller scale and with concrete numbers, such as "Increase the repurchase rate by 25 percent in the coming year."
- Measurable: Only a truly measurable objective is also an achievable objective or one that can be verified by means of KPIs. The KPI system needs clear reference figures in order to function appropriately.
- Attainable: An achievable goal is always defined within the scope of one's own possibilities. There should generally be a real chance that your company will achieve the respective aspiration. Overly ambitious targets hinder the meaningfulness of the KPIs.
- Relevant: Here it is less a matter of achievability and more a matter of meaning. Thus, the intentions to which your e-commerce analytics relate should absolutely be relevant to the success of your business. If they are not, you are likely to waste a lot of time and money.
- Time-frame: A goal can only be achieved efficiently if it is clear in which time frame the corresponding successes are to be achieved. Choose the time frame wisely in the context of the scope of the particular objective. For example, 50 percent more repeat sales within one month would be clearly excessive.
Another very important question in KPI monitoring - or before it - is the following: On the basis of which figures can the set goals be concretely measured. Of course, this works via the values of individual KPIs. However, these do not always consist of just one number. If the aim is to examine a larger target, several meaningful values must be assumed.
If, for example, a comprehensive e-commerce marketing campaign is being run, it is to be expected that its success will be measured by various data, such as traffic, dwell time, conversions, sales, and more.
In order to highlight the KPI's that are most important for your purposes, you should ask yourself the following question: What has a particular impact on achieving a specific goal? This will give you an overview of all the KPIs that are important for the targeted result. You can then use these precisely for your e-commerce analytics.
In most contexts in KPI monitoring, it does not make sense to sift through the numbers every day. Typical goals in e-commerce are usually always long-term. Changes are hardly noticeable in short time intervals, which means that short-term performance measurement is not useful either.
You should define the measurement periods according to the scope or effort required to achieve the set goal. The duration of a particular project also plays a role here. Quarterly, semi-annual or annual intervals are the rule.
Once the roadmap for determining the e-commerce KPIs is in place, the next step is to determine which specific figures are needed for e-commerce analytics. As we have already established, there is no blanket answer here. It depends on your goals and their composition or their measurability, which KPI's with which values are most meaningful. At the very least, you should always have the following figures in your calculations when you set up your KPI monitoring.
- Sales: How many products are sold first influences the revenue generated. However, further insights can be gained from this, such as the popularity of certain offers. This in turn may be a signal for sales-promoting changes in the general product range.
- Prices: If you change prices, you will notice a change in sales relatively quickly. It is always interesting for e-commerce analytics to compare competitor prices here. If there are many significantly cheaper offers on the market, some form of action must be taken.
- Shopping cart size: How full people pack their shopping carts can be significant in that it reveals, from a broader perspective, how much money typical customers are willing to spend on average when making a purchase. This, in turn, is a factor in determining the revenue generated by an average order.
- Abandonment rate or bounce rate: How often and where exactly a purchase process is terminated prematurely provides information about difficult sequences in the ordering process, among other things, which can then be remedied in a targeted manner.
- Page impressions: In addition to the sheer volume of visitors, page impressions provide a lot of other information - for example, at peak times or on the success of marketing measures.
- Dwell time: Dwell time can be used to pinpoint the pages that are particularly appealing to the company's target customers. Insights into product preferences, support needs and other insights are possible here.
- Conversion rate: In e-commerce, conversions are primarily purchases, but other forms are also possible. For example, contacting a customer or asking a question about a product can mark a conversion, which in turn provides information about the interests of a potential customer.
- Click throughrate (CTR): The click through rate shows how many people have reached a web page via advertisements and links in marketing e-mails. This rate is particularly interesting for measuring the success of advertising campaigns.
- Social shares: This value provides information about how often a post received a like and was shared on the social network. Among other things, it shows how well known the respective store is.
- Returns rate: The returns rate can show what proportion of sold products are returned. If questions are asked about what led to each return, deficiencies at different levels can be identified and then precisely remedied.
- Customer service: Direct communication between customers and support staff allows an enormous number of conclusions to be drawn. For example, it is a clear indication of good customer satisfaction if only a few complaints are received. Support staff can be trained to ask the right questions for individual KPI analytics.
- Processing time: If it takes a very long time for support to deal with a particular concern, the likelihood that prospects will not become buyers increases. Fast processing, on the other hand, supports the opposite.
- Hit rate: The hit rate shows what proportion of products sold leads to complaints. Items that are often complained about should be removed from the program altogether or (if it can be influenced) significantly improved.
The following key performance indicators are particularly relevant in the e-commerce context:
- Repurchase rate: The repurchase rate shows in percentage terms how many customers buy again after a transaction - (repurchaser x 100) / first buyer = repurchase rate in percent.
- Purchase frequency: The purchase frequency or time-between-purchase shows how long the intervals between repurchases are.
- Customer retention rate: The customer retention rate measures the number of customers a company retains over a certain period of time.
- Average order value: Average order value or AOV measures how high the average order is in an online store - sales / number of orders = AOV.
- Profitability per order: The profitability per order or Profitability-per-Order shows how the average margin per order turns out - total sales in a given period / profit margin = Profitability-per-Order.
- Return rate: The return rate shows how high the rate of returns is - return rate = returns / orders.
- Customer acquisition costs (CAC): Customer acquisition costs show how expensive it is to acquire new customers - marketing costs / number of new customers = CAC.
- Customer value: Customer lifetime value (CLV) shows which customers are most valuable in the long term - revenue per customer - CAC = CLV.
- Conversion Rate (CR): In the context of deals, the conversion rate shows what percentage of all website visitors become customers - CR = Transactions / Ledas x 100.
- Total revenue: Total revenue is the most important indicator of success - if it increases, "everything" is being done right.
In fact, many key figures relevant for KPI monitoring can be found in the company's database. These include sales (per product), prices and manufacturing or purchasing costs of goods.
Andre important figures can be retrieved with special analytics tools, such as google analytics and co., or directly via a dashboard in the store system used. These include, for example, traffic, dwell time and bounce rates. In the sales and support context, the CRM used provides information, among other things.
- Increase sales: Selling more is one of the absolute core concerns of any business model and thus also forms one of the most common KPI targets.
- Increase page visits: If an online store is visited often, this is usually accompanied by increased sales. Accordingly, page visits are also a frequently targeted KPI goal.
- Improve conversion rate: A higher conversion rate means more sales. Therefore, it is very relevant to aim for one.
- Optimize returns rate: Returns mean a loss for e-commerce companies.
Reducing this loss is an important KPI target.
When finally the goals, the KPI's and all the values for them are in place, it is time to map the metrics in an analytics tool.
This is easier said than done. Because if you really want to focus on your individual goals as well as their measurement and not just what your Analytics Tool gives you as possibilities, the implementation of the KPI's is sometimes highly complex.
In principle, everything can be implemented, but the question is: Is the effort worth it in terms of benefits? Since hardly anyone can operate with unlimited budgets, certain trade-offs are quite normal. For this reason alone, you should rather use simpler, but all the more meaningful metrics.
The following procedure has become established:
- First, set a budget limit for KPI implementation.
- KPIs should then be prioritized according to the importance of the respective goal - keep in mind that not all KPIs are keys!
- Choose the right analytics tool - we present good alternatives to Google Analytics in our article Matomo vs Etracker.
- Consider the interdependencies of KPIs and bear in mind in this context that individual key figures can hardly be meaningful on their own.
Ideally, you should compile your own dashboard for your e-commerce analytics and the associated target fulfillment. Here, all KPIs should be visualized over the respective desired period. In doing so, you should strictly adhere to the rule of thumb "less is more".
A well-designed dashboard allows you and all other people concerned to quickly get an overview of certain states. Specific, perhaps complex relationships are easy to see here. The core objective is to convey the big picture to the addressees within a few seconds.
Accordingly, the focus must be on the most important areas or be directed to them - the unimportant must be left out. If it becomes too extensive or even complicated, the dashboard will fail to achieve its basic objective.
As already mentioned, it is usually a great challenge to map KPIs in an analytics tool. Normally, corresponding indicators are very individual, which is why they are hardly available out-of-the-box. An implementation is almost always associated with profound customizing.
Often, despite all the digital progress, manually created Excel spreadsheets or spreadsheets have to be used and special dashboard software has to be used in addition to the analytics tool to cover all requirements.
Regardless of which elements and systems are chosen, it makes sense to group similar KPI's for individual dashboards or KPI reports. Especially if there are a lot of KPI's, this helps enormously to keep the overview. For example, dashboards by investigation topics, dashboards by website goals or dashboards by the customer buying cycle are possible.
As useful as KPIs are for efficient and data-based e-commerce, they can also be very time-consuming to use.
Accepting key figures, observing them and aligning your own e-commerce measures accordingly does not sound particularly complicated at first. But if you want to do it right, you have to perfectly match and apply numerous values and their effects and interactions for your KPI context. With the information from this article, you should have a good basis for this.
- Development of atargeted strategy taking into account your individual goals and target groups, the choice of the right shop system for your needs to the professional implementation of your online shop.
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For a successful and comprehensive e-commerce strategy, we are also happy to advise you on the following topics: