There’s More to Online Retailing Than Site Conversion

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Etailing is hard, especially when you’re wearing more hats than your single head can reasonably carry. Tracking metrics and then determining which ones you need to improve and then doing all of the work necessary to see some improvements can be really tough.

The metrics landscape is pretty vast; you can track lots of different ones. I pointed out some of the less obvious ones in a recent post (Ecommerce Metrics that Site Search Can Surprisingly Improve). One thing I probably should have emphasized more strongly was the relationship of a single metric to the big picture. Myopia (slavish focus on a single metric) for the sake of myopia is still myopia.

I came across an article (Conversion Rate is Great But AOV Can Be Better) a couple of days ago that illustrated anew the importance of focussing on the big picture – not just one or two individual or disparate metrics.

The GrokDotCom (Bryan Eisenberg’s former journalistic home) post illustrated the value (expressed in dollars) of tracking other metrics (or the author’s preferred term – Key Performance Indicators) beyond site conversion. The problem was that a client was seeing decent sales of low margin products but low sales of higher margin accessories. Simply focussing on overall site conversion rate optimization would have focussed on selling more low-margin products. This wasn’t the solution pursued.

Instead, the retailer focussed on bundling low margin core products with high margin accessories.  The retailer preconfigured sets of “packages” that combined a core product with several useful accessories. These were then placed as up-sells on single-product pages. The results were pretty good – average order value (AOV) rising 34.94% year-over-year, despite conversion rate remaining relatively flat during the same period. The monthly revenue increase is estimated at over $36,000.

Early January is a good time to select 10-12 metrics and look at your site’s performance in the last 3-5 years. Make sure, though, that you wear a macroeconomic hat when doing this so you don’t blind yourself to the myopia of illusion. Keep the relationship of the individual metrics to the big picture (making 2011 your best year ever, perhaps?) foremost in mind.

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