We get a lot of questions from our eCommerce clients about how to go beyond basic reporting and use analytics more effectively. We find that brands are collecting a lot of data and have a good handle on the basics like site traffic, gross and net sales, average order value (AOV), conversion rates, and ad spend/conversions. However, many of our clients are frustrated that while every vendor/platform they use – Shopify, Google, Facebook, Instagram – offers some level of analytics, it’s limited and they can’t get a clear picture because the numbers are different depending on the source.
As your business grows, implementing a centralized analytics platform and automated reporting makes a ton of sense for two main reasons. First, to establish a source of truth for your business so everyone is comparing apples to apples, and second, to enable you to more effectively leverage your data to gain insights to help your business.
You can drill down to get pretty granular and sophisticated with your analytics, but if you’re just getting started with standardizing reporting and more regularly bringing data to bear on your business, what are the essentials to set up and track?
To provide growing eCommerce brands with some best practices, we reached out to our friends at Glew, a user-friendly eCommerce analytics and business intelligence platform that many of our clients use. They provided us with good information about what’s most important for eCommerce brands to track and measure when they get more serious about analytics and want to implement a centralized analytics platform.
“We helped a leading beauty brand connect and transform historical data from all of their sources in a matter of days, something they had struggled with on other platforms in the past due to an incredibly large volume of data -- allowing them to get a complete view of their business.” – Chris Elliott, Executive Vice President of Sales at Glew.io
The questions you want answered
There’s so much data and so many channels and factors to consider – there’s no way you can track all of this in your head. You may know your business inside and out, but as it grows, a centralized data analytics platform is a useful tool to inform and vet your gut feelings and decisions. A platform that pulls all of your data together can help you answer questions like:
- How much money are we making, really?
- Where and when am I getting the most return for my ad spend?
- Who are our most valuable customers?
- How do I turn more customers into repeat customers?
- Which products are our most profitable?
“Every platform you use is siloed and telling you something different. We pull data from the source that’s most accurate, like revenue from Shopify and customer journey data from Google, and compile it into a centralized dashboard, and even add other metrics that these vendors don’t provide.” – Chris Elliott, Glew.io
1. Customer lifetime value and ad spend allocation: How to increase ROI
If you benchmark what the average customer is worth to your business, aka their customer lifetime value (CLTV), you know how much you can spend on customer acquisition and still be profitable. A simple way to calculate CLTV is to divide your total customer base by average order value. Once you know your budget, then you can look at orders and revenue by source/sales channel to help you understand which channel is working hardest for you and bringing in the right customers who return to purchase again. For example, say you pay for ads/posts on Google, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram; a centralized analytics platform allows you to look at the last 30 days to compare how much you spent in each channel and which channel resulted in the most orders, returns/refunds, highest revenue, etc.
2. Net income: How much you’re really taking home
In addition to tracking gross and net sales, it’s important to track your net income, which factors in ad spend or other marketing costs on top of the cost of goods sold (COGS) and returns. This is how much money actually hits your bank account. For example, even if you look at sales data trending over time and you see it going up, taking into account ad spend and marketing, you may see that despite a high sales day, you may not have been profitable because customers were buying low-margin or sale items.
3. Lapse point: How to keep customers coming back
The lapse point is the number of days in which you need to get a customer to purchase again to increase the likelihood of him/her becoming a regular customer. For example, based on historical data of customers who have bought more than once, you can identify that if a customer doesn’t purchase again within 60 days, they’re less likely to come back to the store. The lapse point is different for every store. You can use this number to set automated, customized emails to segmented audiences to incent customers to purchase again.
We saw this type of data come to life with one of our clients, a fountain pen company. Using analytics, they discovered not only what the lapse point was, but what product they needed to sell to lock in a long-term customer: a pen cleaning kit!
4. Highest value products & product LTV: How to maximize profit
You don’t want to sell products that aren’t profitable. To determine which products bring your business the most value, use a centralized analytics platform to track metrics like cost per order (CPO), performance of products with the best margins, and figure out which products are most popular with your highest LTV customers. You also can use data to understand which products customers are most likely to buy together. This information can help you determine more effective merchandising or bundling strategies.
5. Customer intelligence: How to identify your most valuable customers
You can spend a lot on bringing in new customers; it may be the case that most are coming in through paid social. You may find that while social helps drive top-line revenue, it’s not increasing customer LTV because most end up as one-time purchasers. Instead, you may find that 85% of repeat purchases result from email campaigns. A centralized analytics platform can help you sort out who are your most valuable customers and how to most effectively allocate resources and budget for each marketing channel.
You also can more easily segment customers to deliver more customized offers. For example, you can filter lists to see customers with at least two orders, who have purchased in the last 90 days and with a revenue of more than $250, versus those customers who only purchase with a discount. This information can be used to help guide more effective messaging, marketing campaigns and recommendations.
eHouse can help you get started
Analytics are essential for taking your business to the next level as you grow, providing you with the data you need to clearly understand what and where customers are purchasing, and reveal insights you can turn into new marketing opportunities. Start with the metrics highlighted here, and then add others that help you make better business decisions, like inventory metrics, discount code metrics, advanced customer segmentation, and more. We think that having a centralized analytics platform is so important for eCommerce businesses that we provide a free three-month subscription for our project clients and a free subscription for our retainer clients while they work with us. Let’s talk!