Interpreting Business Website Sales Statistics - dummies

Interpreting Business Website Sales Statistics

By Jan Zimmerman

Traffic stats are relevant for all websites, but business websites which sell online face another challenge. Analyzing what’s happening with a cyberstore is just as important as it is for a bricks-and-mortar shop. Business owners who integrate their bricks-and-clicks operations through shared point-of-sale (POS) software, inventory control, and accounting might need to make changes in their reports but have a framework to start with.

For store statistics, a pure-play (online-only) business must rely on software supplied with its storefront package or custom-developed by its programmer.

If you expect significant sales on a catalog of more than a few products, store statistics are critical. When selecting your storefront package or developer, review the statistics you receive. If you can’t get statistics, look elsewhere for a storefront solution.

Here are a few of the statistics to watch for:

  • Internal store reports, often by item, include the number of active items, items missing images, and store size.

  • In addition to summary sales reports, watch for sales reports broken down by product. Sometimes called a product tree, these statistics reflect your store organization, with reports at category, subcategory, and product levels.

  • Look for sales reports by average dollar amount and by number of sales.

  • You should be able to request order totals for a specific period that you define.

  • Sales sorted by day should be available so that you can track sales tied to promotions, marketing activities, and sale announcements.

  • Make sure that you can collect statistics on the use of promotion codes by number and dollar value so that you can decide which promotions are the most successful.

  • If you use special shopping features such as gift registries, upselling, cross-selling, wish lists, or affiliate programs, monitor the items sold and those on reserve for every activity.

  • Sales sorted by customers, to allow for future, personalized correspondence and to see how many repeat versus new customers you have, can be useful.

  • If your shopping cart abandonment rate is more than 70 percent, try to identify the step at which shoppers leave. You should know how many carts were opened, compared to the number of completed purchases.

    Computation can be tricky if your storefront places cookies that allow users as much as 30 days to complete transactions. Statistics that show the contents of abandoned (and active) carts can give you a clue to merchandising or site changes you might need.

  • If you haven’t used an integrated store builder solution, you might discover that users often enter a completely different website when they link to shopping online. (Watch what happens to the URL.) Only a portion of users who arrive at your HTML site will shift to your storefront, essentially creating an intermediate conversion rate.

    Be sure that you understand how the store statistical package interprets the number of visitors. You will overestimate your conversion rate if your base is the number of visitors who enter the store itself rather than those who arrive at your site.