What to Track During the eCommerce Peak Season - Metrics & KPIs
Successful eCommerce stores live in the data, every decision is data driven, everything is measured. Successful ideas are scaled up and failures are rapidly culled. This data driven approach only becomes more essential during the eCommerce peak season in November and December.
For each of your businesses objectives there are a number of metrics that can be used to measure them. Of course you are already tracking those such as conversion rate, cost per acquisition, customer life time value, average order volume, customer retention rate, net profit, cart abandonment etc.
So aside from how you usually measure and use your data, we have compiled a few things you may not have considered to maximise your performance during the peak period and also to prepare for peak 2022!
Capturing new visitors
During Q4 you will likely receive a high number of first time visitors. Additionally, many of your orders are likely to be gifts, this means your brand will have a much larger reach than other times of the year therefore, it is critical to go above and beyond to convert these people into repeat customers that will stay with your brand.
Set up data tracking properly
The first thing you need to do is make sure your data tracking and analytics software is set up properly. You will likely have data from various sources whether that's a Google product, your e-commerce platform (e.g. Shopify), or a multitude of other apps and services. Almost everyone is using Google analytics as it holds a wealth of data on many of the metrics you are tracking, but have you checked all of your goals are setup correctly ahead of peak, and have you enabled e-commerce tracking to get the most relevant data?
Another great tool that is often underused is heat mapping software such as Hotjar or Smartlook. These allow you to see how users navigate your website so you can quickly identify problems and create a better user experience.
Keeping track of your order volume in the context with the time of year and any marketing and promotions that you are running is key to creating an accurate order forecast.
Order forecasts are not only essential to ensuring that you have the right amount of stock ready to go, but are important in having reliable fulfilment.
Communicating your forecast with your fulfilment provider will help them to efficiently locate your products and prepare to accurately and rapidly fulfil top selling items during busy periods.
Errors and Problems
During the peak period it is inevitable that a few mistakes will happen. In 2020 Hermes alone delivered 72 million parcels between Black Friday and Christmas Eve up 70% from the same period in 2019. Dramatically increased order volumes mean parcel carriers, warehouses, and sellers all have a challenge on their hands.
It's important to keep track of any problems that occur during peak so that they can be addressed quickly and provide an insight on how to better prepare to mitigate risk next year.
If a customer receives an order late you could turn this into a positive experience by immediately sending an email to apologise and offering a discount code for a future purchase. By showing you care and going above and beyond will help to create long term loyal customers.
If orders are regularly being delayed its time to update your delivery promise on your website to reflect this and ensure customers are aware. Then it's time to look for the cause, is it a specific carrier or service that is causing the issues? If so could you switch to a more reliable parcel carrier or upgrade to tracked deliveries?
It's also a good idea to track fulfilment performance, if delays or mis-picks occur in the warehouse it's important to review this and establish the cause. Bezos monitor all errors on behalf of our sellers and will work with you to implement strategies that will quickly resolve these.
If a lot of items are received damaged damaged, is this a product issue, in which case you could opt for a premium goods in service where the warehouse can perform a quality control check all of your products on arrival. Or if they are becoming damaged in transit it might be time to look at an alternative packaging solution.
No doubt you will be running several promotions during peak season. It is important to look at the performance and ROI in context with your stock levels.
Keeping track of your stock levels will help you to decide which products to promote so that you can clear your inventory without running out of stock of a particular item too quickly which can lead to a bad customer experience! Therefore, you need to not only keep optimising your campaigns but switch campaigns to target the appropriate products.
Another way to optimise your promotions is by tracking the number of (and which) SKU's are in each order. This can help you to establish product correlations and improve your recommendations for cross selling.
Finally, by tracking the time of day orders are placed during the peak period allows you to understand when your customers are most active which will help you to better target your marketing campaigns and make sure that your fulfilment partners order cut off times meet your needs.
A deeper dive
Looking at you conversion rates is great but what does it really tell you? Diving deeper into your data and looking at the CR segmented by source will help you to see which channels and marketing efforts are working.
You can also break your CR down by product to see which are the most successful in driving conversions, and use the same concept to breakdown your revenue and profit data.
Refund & return Rate
Having a free and convenient returns solution is key to getting orders in the first place, as a significant percentage of consumers factor returns policies into their buying decision.
With returns rates getting higher each year you need to account for this in to your strategy, and keep track of your return rates.
If you identify certain products have higher than normal return rates, one of the best things to do is optimise your product pages to have as much detail as possible so that customers are fully informed as to what they will receive. You can try using a combination of different images, videos, and text to show your product in a variety of contexts and showing different sizes and colors.
Data is for life, not just for Christmas
Using data to optimise your performance this year is essential but you already need to be using the results to plan ahead for peak Peak 2022!
Make sure to assess which metrics are important for you by thinking about the impact each has on your companies goals and if they can inform actionable changes.