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Enhancing Online Store Performance Measures to Focus on Customers

Tracking too many metrics bears the risk of experiencing diminishing marginal utility and losing sight of the big picture.

The Gist

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Common Thread Collective
  • Measuring customer experience — the right way. It is important to identify the right set of metrics that provide a level of situational awareness that is correct, accurate and constructive for commercial success.
  • Respecting the customer lifecycle. Underperforming metrics can be explained by a mismatch between what your customers and users need, and what you offer, highlighting the importance of focusing on customer needs throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

They say, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure”. If you run an ecommerce business and want to know how well it is doing, what do you measure? How about revenue or profitability?

Right, but what if these metrics are down? What levers do you have to make changes? And what may cause the decline? A more expedient approach is to utilize more granular and specific metrics.

On the other side, tracking too many metrics bears the risk of experiencing diminishing marginal utility and losing sight of the big picture. It is therefore important to identify the right set of metrics — those providing a level of situational awareness that is correct, accurate, and constructive.

In this article I cover 20 selected metrics that not only allow you to measure and understand your business viability, but at the same time also focus on the quality of your audience’s customer experience. The focus on customer needs throughout the entire customer lifecycle is critical for commercial success. As you will see, in most cases underperforming metrics can be explained by a mismatch between what your customers and users need, and what you offer.

When customers engage with a company, they go through certain stages, the sum of which we call the Customer Journey. Here is a high-level depiction of it:

Graphic showing stages of the customer journey: learning, using and maintaining

In the following, I group the customer experience metrics according to the stages in the customer journey:

  1. When customers learn about an offering. This includes the sub-stages Awareness, Considering, and Acquiring.
  2. When they use the offering and advance from novel user to proficient user.
  3. When they maintain the offering through updating, renewing, and upgrading.
  4. There are several metrics that are not bound to any single stage.

Here are 20 customer experience metrics, their definitions and some targets/benchmarks to pursue to beef up your CX programs:

1. Learning About Offering (Becoming Aware, Considering, Acquiring)

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Keyword Ranking

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  • Definition: When users enter keywords into a search engine, they convey their needs. If you have an offering that matches user needs, you want to ensure that it appears high up on the search results page. The top three search results alone account for 50% of organic traffic to your website. Identify the rank position of your offering on the search results pages of the major search engines. If you rank low, it is a sign that the content on your website does not cover the particular topic of interest well enough. For example, if you sell project management software, your website must cover the subject matter of project management thoroughly enough for search engines to register your content and eventually rank your website high in the search results.
  • Targets/benchmarks: The higher, the better. Your offering should be listed in the top three search results for the most popular keywords.

Number of Sessions

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  • Definition: This metric tells you how well you attract users to your website. Identify the number of times a user is active on your website before becoming inactive for a certain time (the standard is 30 minutes). A reason for low session counts may be that channels you are using to deliver your message to your audience are underperforming. For example, organic traffic may be impeded by low keyword rankings, or traffic from display ads might be low because the ads are either not targeted at the right audience or are not enticing enough (see Ad Click-Through Rate below).
  • Targets/benchmark: The more the better. The ecommerce industry reported an average of 24,572 monthly sessions in in 2022.

Bounce Rate

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  • Definition: A bounce is when a user visits a web page and then leaves without any further action like clicking on a link, filling out a form, or adding a product into the shopping cart. Divide the number of bouncing visitors by the number of all visitors to the web page. Bounce rates provide an indication of whether customers consider your content useful. The more engagement with your website and the lower the bounce rates, means the likelihood of your content being regarded as relevant is higher, which gives more of a chance for a sale to be made.
  • Targets/benchmark: The smaller the better. For commercial web pages the average is less than 50%. For blogs that number is higher and even 70% is considered a good result.

Ad Click-Through Rate

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  • Definition: If you are paying for display ads being served up to your target audience, this metric is a good way to assess their effectiveness. Divide the number of times an ad was clicked by the number of times it was shown to users. A low rate is a sign that the design or content of the ad is not enticing enough.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. Reported averages across industries range anywhere from 0.11% to 0.57%.

Cost Per Acquisition

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  • Definition: This is the amount of marketing money required to gain one paying customer. Divide the total marketing spend by the number of new customers. A low number indicates that your marketing is both effective and efficient in conveying value to potential customers.
  • Targets/benchmark: The lower the better. Targets are industry-specific and range widely from $7 to $400.

Sales Conversion Rate

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  • Definition: This metric tells you how effective you are in converting visitors to your website into paying customers. Divide the number of closed sales by the number of sessions. A low rate tells you that something is preventing potential customers who are curious enough to visit your website from making a purchase.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. In 2022 reported averages for ecommerce ranged from 2.1% and 3.7%.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

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  • Definition: Most users don’t finalize their online purchase after having added items into the shopping cart. This metric tells you how often this is happening on your website. Divide the number of completed purchases by the number of shopping carts created. Then subtract the result from 1. While the ease of use is not the only reason why users may abandon their carts, a high rate may be caused by usability issues in the checkout process. Maybe there are too many steps, or some of the steps are so confusing that users don’t know how to proceed.
  • Targets/benchmark: The lower the better. The average across industries is between 70-80%. A very good rate would be in the 25% range.

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2. Using the Offering

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User Growth Rate

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  • Definition: This metric tells you about the speed at which you earn new users. Take the present number of users and subtract it from the last period’s number (e.g. yearly). Then divide that difference by the last period’s number. Growth is important, continued growth is essential. You may grow for a while only to see that your rate is shrinking and maybe even turning negative.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. Depending on the industry this rate can be as high as 600% per year. For software it is around 100%.


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  • Definition: Stickiness tells you how much users engage with your offering. Two commonly used stickiness calculations are:
    • Divide the number of daily active users by the number of monthly active users (DAU/MAU).
    • Divide the number of monthly active users by the number of monthly registered users (MAU/MRU). Note that MRU include non-active users.
      Low numbers signify that users under-utilize or even abandon your offering. This may be caused by a poor usability, or a feature set that does not align with user needs.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. Target for DAU/MAU: 50+%. Target for MAU/MRU: 25+%


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  • Definition: Retention tells you what portion of users keep coming back to your offering over time. Take the number of users who were active one, seven and 30 days after their first usage and divide it by the total number of users with a seniority of 1, 7, 30 days. Low numbers signal that too many users abandon your offering. As with Stickiness, this is a strong indication for potential usability or feature set issues.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. Target for 1 day: 60+%. Target for 7 days: 30+%. Target for 30 days: 15+%.

Time To Value

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  • Definition: This metric informs you about how long it takes users to perceive value in your offering. There are different ways of assessing Time to Value, including:
    • Measure the average time it takes users to adopt key features of your product or service.
    • Measure the average time it takes customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier (see also Subscription Upgrade Rate below).
      Customers spend money on offerings they perceive as valuable. The sooner they realize the value, the sooner they become paying customers, renew and upgrade their subscriptions, and thus increase the customer lifetime value.
  • Targets/benchmark: The shorter the better.


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  • Definition: This is also known as the Viral Coefficient and denominates how many new customers your existing customers generate in average as a result of recommending your offering to their friends, family, or colleagues. Multiply the average number of referrals per customer by the average conversion rate (the latter is the number of successful referrals divided by the number of all referrals). A low number indicates that your existing customers are not convinced enough about the value of your offering to recommend it.
  • Targets/benchmark: An offering is viral when its viral coefficient is greater than 1.

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3. Maintaining the Offering

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Paid Subscription Renewal Rate

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  • Definition: If your offering is not being sold in a single transaction, this rate tells you how many customers are willing to continue to pay in order to keep using it. Divide the number of customers renewing at the end of the subscription period by the number of all customers scheduled for renewal. This metric signifies the degree of customer loyalty. Your customers only continue their business relationship with you when they perceive enough value in your offering.
  • Targets/benchmark: The closer to 100% the better. 80% is a good value.

Net Revenue Retention Rate

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  • Definition: This metric is related to the Paid Subscription Renewal Rate and thus is another way to assess the value your existing customers perceive in your offering. Take the recurring revenue from the last period (e.g. yearly), add any revenue from up-selling and cross-selling, subtract any lost revenue from customer churn and down-selling, and divide the result by the recurring revenue from the last period. This metric does not include new customers. Therefore, a rate smaller than 100% means that you are unable to generate additional revenue from your existing customer base.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. Targets vary with markets and range from 90% to 125%.

Subscription Upgrade Rate

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  • Definition: This rate looks at how many customers are willing to pay more money for more features or better support. This may mean going from a free trial to a paid subscription or upgrading from one subscription tier to a higher one. Divide the number of customers upgrading to a higher subscription tier by the number of customers scheduled for renewal. A low rate tells you that customers don’t see enough value in your offering to be willing to spend more money.
  • Targets/benchmark: The closer to 100% the better. Benchmarks vary so widely with industries and subscription model that they are not very helpful. They range from 1% to 60%.

4. Customer Experience Metrics Not Bound to Any Specific Journey Stage

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Customer Effort Score

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  • Definition: This score, also known as CES, measures the effort a customer just had to put forth to get something done using your website, product, service, or support. CES is based on a single question: “How easy was it to achieve what you wanted with [website / product / service / support]?” Take the number of customers who agree that their interaction was easy and divide it by the total number of responses. For example, if 70 customers out of 100 rated you 5, 6, or 7 on a scale from 1 to 7, the CES would be 70%. Low CES scores identify touchpoints that frustrate customers. Follow-up research can shed a light onto what the cause for the dissatisfaction is.
  • Targets/benchmark: The closer to 100% the better. 70% is considered a good result.

Customer Satisfaction Score

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  • Definition: This score, also known as CSAT, measures how satisfied customer are with your website, product, service, or support. Like CES, it’s based on actual experiences, but it’s not as specific to one particular activity that took place. Rather, it’s a more general assessment of a customer’s satisfaction level pertaining to your company and offerings. CSAT is based on a single question: “Overall, how satisfied are you with ... ?” Take the number of customers who say that they are satisfied and divide it by the total number of responses. For example, if 80 customers out of 100 rated you 5, 6, or 7 on a scale from 1 to 7, the CSAT score would be 80%. A low CSAT score means that your customers are not happy with your company or offering. Follow-up research can shed a light onto the causes.
  • Targets/benchmark: The closer to 100% the better. 70-80% is considered a good result.

Net Promoter Score

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  • Definition: This measure, also known as NPS, assesses the intent of customers to recommend your company, product, or service to others. NPS is based on a single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend ” to a friend or colleague?”. Answers can be given on a 0 to 10 scale. Calculate the percentage of customers who gave a 9 or 10 rating and subtract the percentage of customers who gave a rating between 0 and 6. The resulting score ranges from -100 to +100. A low score indicates that your existing customers are not convinced about the benefit and value of your offering.
  • Targets/benchmark: The higher the better. The cross-industry average is around 17. 50 is considered a good result, and 70 a very good result.

Number of support tickets

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  • Definition: The usability of your systems that your customers engage with has a direct impact on the customer experience. Poor usability will reflect in survey-based metrics like CES, CSAT, NPS. Yet another way of measuring the ease of use of your systems is through the volume of support tickets. Identify the number of customer support tickets. You can take the total sum, or you can count by product, by customer, by customer segment, etc. While not every support case relates to usability, high volumes of tickets may signal usability issues that need to be investigated and corrected.
  • Targets/benchmark: The fewer the better. What constitutes a good value depends on your specific business.

Mean Time To Resolution

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  • Definition: This metric, also referred to as MTTR, measures how quickly you resolve customer issues and close support tickets. Divide the total time spent on resolving all open support tickets by the number of all resolved support tickets. Long resolution times frustrate customers which manifests itself in lower CAST, CES, and NPS scores, and may result in lost revenue and customer churn.
  • Targets/benchmark: The shorter the better. Benchmarks vary across industries. One study reported a median of 82 hours (3 ½ days).

Conclusion: Measure Your Customer Experience Programs With Smart Metrics

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These 20 metrics are, of course, just a small selection of metrics that are available and used in the industry. I do not claim that you will have 20/20 vision of your business merely based on assessing these 20 metrics.

Rather, what I hope to show is how critical these customer experience metrics are in determining the business success for ecommerce. Being successful translates into being customer-centered. Having a “customer first” attitude means constantly measuring and optimizing the customer journey so that all stages match or even exceed the customer expectations.

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