32 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Ecommerce

Performance should inform business decisions and KPIs should drive actions. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are like milestones on the road to online retail success. Monitoring them will help ecommerce entrepreneurs identify progress toward sales, marketing, and customer service goals. 

A performance indicator is simply a quantifiable measurement or data point used to gauge performance relative to some goal. As an example, it may be a goal for some online retailers to increase site traffic 50 % in the next year. Relative to this goal, a performance indicator might be the number of unique visitors the site receives daily or which traffic sources send visitors (pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, brand or display advertising, or a YouTube video).

For some goals there could be many performance indicators — often too many — so often people narrow it down to just two or three impactful data points known as key performance indicators. KPIs are those measurements that most accurately and succinctly show whether or not a business in progressing toward its goal.

Setting Goals and Identifiying KPIs

Selecting KPIs begins with clearly stating goals and understanding what areas of business impact those goals. Of course, KPIs can and should differ for each of an online retailer's goals, whether those are related to boosting sales, streamlining marketing, or improving customer service.

Here are a few examples of goals and associated KPIs:

  • GOAL 1 — Boost sales 10% in the next quarter. KPIs include daily sales, conversion rate, site traffic.
  • GOAL 2 — Increase conversion rate 2% in the next year. KPIs include conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, associated shipping rate trends, competitive price trends.
  • GOAL 3 — Grow site traffic 20 percent in the next year. KPIs include site traffic, traffic sources, promotional click-through rates, social shares, bounce rates.
  • GOAL 4 — Reduce customer service calls by half in the next 6 months. KPIs include service call classification, identify of page visited immediately before the call, event that lead to the call.

It should be easy to see that there are many performance indicators, and the value of those indicators is directly tied to the goal progress measured. Monitoring which page someone visited before initiating a customer service call makes sense as a KPI for GOAL 4 since it could help identify areas of confusion that when corrected would reduce customer service calls, but that same performance indicator would be almost useless for GOAL 3. 

With the idea that KPIs should differ based on the goal being measured, it's possible to consider a set of common performance indicators for ecommerce. Here are 32 common ecommerce key performance indicators. Just remember that the performance indicators listed below is in no way exhaustive. 

32 Key Performance Indicators

Sales Key Performance Indicators:

  • Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales
  • Average order size (sometimes called average market basket)
  • Average margin
  • Conversion rate
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • New customer orders versus returning customer sales
  • Cost of goods sold
  • Total available market relative to a retailer's share of market
  • Product affinity (which products are purchased together)
  • Product relationship (which products are viewed consecutively)
  • Inventory levels
  • Competitive pricing

Marketing Key Performance Indicators: 

  • Site traffic
  • Unique visitors versus returning visitors
  • Time on site
  • Page views per visit
  • Traffic source
  • Day part monitoring (when site visitors come)
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Texting subscribers
  • Chat sessions initiated
  • Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest followers or fans
  • Pay-per-click traffic volume
  • Blog traffic
  • Number and quality of product reviews
  • Brand or display advertising click-through rates
  • Affiliate performance rates

Customer Service Key Performance Indicators:

  • Customer service email count
  • Customer service phone call count
  • Customer service chat count
  • Average resolution time
  • Concern classification

Once you have set goals and selected KPIs, monitoring those indicators should become an everyday exercise. And most importantly: Performance should inform business decisions, and you should use KPIs to drive actions.

32 comments

  • Wes Coughlin
    Wes Coughlin
    February 21 2013, 12:26PM

    You mention " monitoring those indicators should become an everyday exercise."

    Is there any online software to help quickly monitor these figures? A combo of google analytics, Sumall, Mailchimp, and social on a one page dashboard would be cool.

  • Wendy Guerin
    Wendy Guerin
    February 21 2013, 01:50PM

    Wes – check out Cyfe for the dashboard.

  • Lars Groth-Rasmussen
    Lars Groth-Rasmussen
    February 21 2013, 03:00PM

    You can also try out Qlikview, they have a full free version http://www.qlikview.com/us/explore/experience/free-download and if you combine it with a Salesforce.com developer version http://developer.force.com/ you would get a fantastic overview. Do Shopify consider collaborating with companies like these in the future??

  • Julie Henderson
    Julie Henderson
    February 21 2013, 03:15PM

    Nice list of KPIs. I like the idea of defining a goal first then choosing the appropriate metrics that work toward hitting that goal.

  • Annie Hawkins
    Annie Hawkins
    February 21 2013, 05:08PM

    Hi Wes, good question! You should check out Domo. They care about making it easy to see all the data you care about in one beautiful dashboard. They also have a solution for retailers: http://www.domo.com/solutions/retail

  • Jason Greenberg
    Jason Greenberg
    February 25 2013, 01:42PM

    Hi Wes, you should take a look at Social Annex their analytics include demographics, Social ROI, audience likes and interest, and more that update daily; http://bit.ly/VccB1t. Their services also include tools that will help boost and track all of the KPI’s listed above.
    Thanks for the post Mark!

  • Kris
    Kris
    February 26 2013, 12:20AM

    Wes there is geckoboard :)

  • Website Design Company
    Website Design Company
    February 27 2013, 05:07AM

    This blog is very informative..thanks for sharing your views

  • Gooddens
    Gooddens
    March 01 2013, 12:57PM

    this is nice list of kpi to check the peormance of shopping sites.

  • Suana William
    Suana William
    March 08 2013, 06:31AM

    KPIs are bread and butter of successful e-commerce consultancy for sure. This article explains really well how to go about choosing and setting up your own set of KPIs to track. I especially like the part about finding your own baseline.

  • Dave Huss
    Dave Huss
    March 11 2013, 02:30PM

    Nice list of KPIs, and yes it is important to track them on a regular basis for sure.

    One KPI that you didn’t mention that I use often (especially when doing paid traffic like Adwords) is profit per visitor.

    Profit Per Visitor = Average Order Value * Average Margin * Conversion Rate

    That KPI makes it really easy to project if buying traffic through Adwords or other sources would be profitable because you can directly compare it to cost-per-clicks.

    Example:
    You sell widgets with average order value of $200
    Your average margin is 50%
    Your conversion rate is 1%

    $200 * 0.5 * 0.01 = $1.00 Profit Per Visitor

    That means you could pay up to $1.00 per click in Adwords and expect to make a positive ROI

    My post here goes into more detail about it:
    http://ecommercedouble.com/simple-2-minute-test-to-determine-if-adwords-will-be-profitable-for-you/

  • e commerce web solution
    e commerce web solution
    March 13 2013, 01:23AM

    Thanks for the idea. For making ecommerce successful, keeping this key performance indicators in mind is important.

  • ABC's of Ecommerce
    ABC's of Ecommerce
    March 16 2013, 09:24AM

    Good list but you have forgotten one very important performance indicator – the refund rate. If you have many sales but your refund rate is high, then there is nothing good about those sales… only loses.

    You can read more about this and how to lower your refund rate and increase your conversion rate in the 6th chapter of my ebook, available at http://www.abc-of-ecommerce.com

  •  Bernie Smith
    Bernie Smith
    March 18 2013, 03:24AM

    Key Performance Indicator’s are most important factor of online business and play most important role in decision making process for increasing market strategy and performance.

  • suhana
    suhana
    April 09 2013, 07:12AM

    HI
    Today i came across this amazing new website named nupinch.com…i really think you guys should check it out..
    Link: http://bit.ly/XczfI3

  • shazzid
    shazzid
    June 06 2013, 01:25AM

    hi
    i want to know some KPI examples for Accounts department. can anybody provide me that?

  • Eco
    Eco
    September 19 2013, 06:12PM

    Just starting my goals for my business and putting together my vision for the next 5 years and your post was very informative. Thank you.

  • Oluwatosin
    Oluwatosin
    September 26 2013, 08:43AM

    Quite educating. Please can i have the KPIs in a Consruction Company?

  • Apalife.com
    Apalife.com
    September 29 2013, 11:56AM

    Can someone help me ? What formula is caculating the KPI of Ecommerce. Or What formula does I got a KPI ‘s Ecommerce.

  • Debashish Gupta
    Debashish Gupta
    October 18 2013, 03:45AM

    Very valuable information in this blog. Thank you very much.

  • Meena
    Meena
    October 25 2013, 09:11AM

    Very informative blog.Thank you for listing KPIs for Digital commerce

  • Sreeram
    Sreeram
    December 18 2013, 07:14AM

    Hi Wes, you can also check out http://ubiq.co to track Ecommerce metrics

  • Daniel
    Daniel
    February 09 2014, 03:53PM

    I am a very small inbound marketing agency and measurement plus analysis seems so critical for all my clients but it’s my job to show them why and how. I often have to use the phrase, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. You were very clear in this post how important it is to pay attention to analytics. I am learning how to separate the key KPIs from more useless reports which seems to be expanding all the time. If I had one item of value that I could offer to your readers, it’s to learn which are the 5 to 10 reports and key performance indicators that make their decision making process smoother. Your blog posts seem to be, and should be of great help in this area. Education is everything.

  • ashraf siddiqui
    ashraf siddiqui
    February 10 2014, 07:06AM

    i would like to know about Logistics supply chain distribution and transport KPI

  • RLS-911
    RLS-911
    March 29 2014, 07:56PM

    Great blog with good, clear information. I am just starting out researching how to effectively and successfully conduct eCommerce. Within the past 2-weeks I registered a domain name and secured a website host. I have a marketing and business degree and am looking towards online eCommerce as a way expand business and revenue. Thanks to those who included informational links in their posts. I’ve looked at them and they are helpful. Glad I happened upon this blog.

  • Yatin Bhatia
    Yatin Bhatia
    May 29 2014, 01:02PM

    I just saw this conversation.. great list of KPI.. But if we look at all of them, these are high frequency and impact decisions and needs a system that embed properly in the decision cycle. Systems that can engineer decisions not just share the numbers and leave us alone in the last mile..

    I know some systems that do it very well.. Anyone interested can call me at (510) 517-3347. I’ll be happy to help..

  • Mark D
    Mark D
    June 22 2014, 06:21PM

    Are there ecommerce & retail industry benchmarks so compare the KPIs for my company against? Where can we find them?

  • Grant Crowell
    Grant Crowell
    July 16 2014, 05:11PM

    Great list, although what’s missing are video KPIs! Online video has some distinctive KPIs of it’s own — both for YouTube and professional online video players.

  • Carlo Alberto Dall'Amico
    Carlo Alberto Dall'Amico
    July 22 2014, 06:00AM

    In reply to Wes, let me suggest our eCommerce analytics platform: Wunderdata.com

    We provide you with a cloud BI solution to track and analyze nearly everything mentioned in the above list.

    In reply to Mark D: along the line of this post we recently researched on what are the essential KPIs for online shops / eCommerce. We provide a framework to choose which KPIs to track, define the KPIs themselves, and give benchmarks (when data is available and when it make sense)

    here’s the full article: http://wunderdata.com/key-performance-indicators-kpi-ecommerce/

  • anuj veer
    anuj veer
    July 26 2014, 08:11AM

    quite informative …nice blog.

  •  PETER  B.L BORLO
    PETER B.L BORLO
    August 31 2014, 08:57PM

    this is an illuminating lecture.however,it would more gladdening if u can come up with KIPs in PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES OF AFRICA.THANKS.

  • Sean
    Sean
    October 27 2014, 02:48PM

    Wes and others—I’m late to the party, but you could check out Spring Metrics. (www.springmetrics.com). They have an easy to read analytics dashboard which covers the most important KPIs.

    The important thing is to identify the KPIs which are central to your unique business. Conversion rate might not be high on the list, but AOV might be.

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