E-commerce is a rapidly growing market that has been rising exponentially over the last decade. Think about it. In 2012, e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time. In 2014, global e-commerce sales went up 22.2% within a year. And in the next five years, e-commerce is expected to reach $3.5 trillion in sales, accounting for 12.9% of global retail (note: in 1991, it was only 0.6%).

Impressive? Yes. Surprising? Not really. According to Business Insider, offline sales are currently tanking, which explains why e-commerce is experiencing such a tremendous growth. As Jeff Jordan, U.S. venture capitalist and General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said:

We're in the midst of a profound structural shift from physical to digital retail… [and] it’s happening faster than I could have [ever] imagined.

But what exactly do people buy online?

Based on Connected Consumer Study by A.T.Kearney, the four most popular cross-shopping categories in digital retail are electronics (77%), services (76%), fashion and apparel (76%), and books (73%).

Interestingly, The Nielsen Company reports that it is the fashion industry that has the most engaged buyers (mostly women), boasting 46% of online shoppers from all over the world. This is more than any other industry could ever dream of, which promises fashion e-commerce a bright, successful future — and, of course, a high rate of competitiveness.

So in order to survive in such an intense and ambitious world as e-commerce, there’s one thing you must swear by: KPIs. KPIs is what allows you to measure your success in the form of milestones achieved on the road to your ultimate goal.

But how do you define KPIs in e-commerce? Are they the same for every industry? Or even for every e-commerce business? The answer is no. KPIs depend on your personal goal, which is the first thing you have to outline in your marketing strategy. Without a goal, numbers don’t mean anything, and in an industry that is basically swimming in data, setting a goal is like having a bobber that keeps you afloat.

Therefore, choosing KPIs begins with clearly stating goals and identifying what areas have a direct impact on them. Goals, of course, can (and should) differ, and, depending on what those goals are, the KPIs can (and should) vary too.

So, for instance, if one of your goals would be to boost sales by, say, 15% in the next 6 months, your KPIs would be: number of leads, conversion rate, daily/weekly/monthly sales, shopping cart abandonment rate, etc. If, however, you need to increase email open rates (by 3% in the next quarter, for example), your KPIs will be completely different: soft/hard bounce rate, total opens' rate, click rate, unsubscribed rate and deleted without reading rate, among others.

Therefore, the relevance and the value of every KPI strictly depends on each and every goal. So monitoring shopping cart abandonment could help identify the issues connected with sales, but wouldn’t make any sense when it comes to email marketing.

With this idea in mind, here are the 39 most essential KPIs for e-commerce (to choose wisely from):


1. Product quality index

Is the quality of your product/service as high as the customers expect it to be?

2. Average time between failures

3. Average number of breakdowns

Customer service:

4. Customer satisfaction rate

It’s been proven that customers (95% of them, in fact) are more likely to share bad service experiences than good ones.

5. Number of customer complaints

6. Average resolution time

7. NPS (Net Promoter Score)

How likely will a customer recommend your service or product to somebody else?

8. Customer retention

9. Customer feedback


10. Sales by hour, day, week, month, quarter and year

11. Average order size (average market basket)

12. Shopping cart abandonment rate

Baymard Institute reports that the current shopping cart abandonment rate is at 68.55%.

13. Checkout abandonment rate

14. Product clicks

15. Average number of products purchased together

16. Average number of products viewed

17. Average delivery costs

18. Average return costs

19. Repeat buyers

20. Number of transactions in a given time frame

21. Leads to customers ratio

22. Customer profitability score

After deducting all the costs of customer attraction, onboarding, maintenance, advertising expenses, etc, how much profit does that one customer bring to your business?

23. Return on investment

Was the client worth the investment?

24. Revenue growth rate and net profit (i.e. income minus expenses)


25. Site traffic

26. Site traffic to lead ratio (i.e. "conversion rate”)

27. Bounce rate

Bounce rate in e-commerce is 35%, which is a bit less than the average 40.5% on the web in total.

28. Average time spent on the website

29. Page view per user

30. New vs returning visitors (i.e. “visitor loyalty”)

31. Newsletter subscribers

32. Number of leads (from different channels)

33. Cost per lead

34. Organic search and brand keyword value

35. Social media followership number

36. Social media reach and engagement rate

37. Email marketing performance rate

According to Mailchimp, the average email campaign stats in e-commerce stand at 16.77% opens and 2.53% URL clicks.  

38. Cost per acquisition

It is 7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than retain an old one.

39. Customer lifetime value

What is interesting about KPIs, is that you can always narrow some of them down to small data points that measure the success rate of that particular KPI. For instance, email marketing performance rate, which is a marketing KPI, can be analysed via delivery rate, unsubscribe rate, open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc. For this reason, to set meaningful KPIs for each specific area (i.e. sales, marketing, customer service, among others), it is recommended to follow the “less is more” philosophy and focus on just a few key metrics. Also the geolocation is of importance.

But then again, what is “a few”? Some say that 10 is the ultimate number of KPIs, others believe it should never be more than 3, and some think that sticking to The Magical Number Seven (Plus or Minus Two) is the best practice.

Whatever you choose, though, remember: tracking too many KPIs is just counterproductive.

All in all, setting KPIs for e-commerce is a strategic decision. KPIs should be set according to your company’s goals and objectives and then carefully monitored on a regular (better — daily) basis. But the most important thing to remember here is that without context and interpretation, KPIs don’t mean anything at all. It’s not the information that has value, but what we do with this information. And this is the key factor to bear in mind when building a successful e-commerce business, don’t you agree?

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Ula Lachowicz

Written by Ula Lachowicz

Ula Lachowicz has been in the tech industry for a decade, taking care of marketing and communication for SaaS and B2B products. A strategic mind, she is a true visionary of our content commerce solution and is happy to see how it changes the way brands talk.