Measuring your online store’s performance

I spend a somewhat regular portion of my time answering questions around scalability with WooCommerce. Questions such as “I have a catalog of 600k products, can WooCommerce handle that” and “how many orders can WooCommerce handle” are not uncommon. That said, an interesting post by Chris Lema around scaling WooCommerce brought to light a metric I’ve long felt to be a worthwhile metric for measuring overall performance of any online store; “add to cart” events. This metric is great for measuring not only how well your store performs as you receive more traffic, but how well your store is performing overall as well.

An “add to cart” event is the action taken when a visitor clicks “add to cart” or “buy now” (or whatever your “add this to my shopping basket” button is labelled), and begins their transition from “visitor” to “customer”. This signals the start of a series of events, where in the customer agrees to give you a bunch of information about themselves, as well as some form of payment, in exchange for your product or service. Whether you see it now or not, this is definitely a series of interactions, all of which have a definite drop-off point. By measuring this metric (you could record this event into Google Analytics, or your other analytics tool), we can see several areas for possible improvement.

If there are lots of “add to cart” events occurring, yet not as many orders, there is an issue with your conversion funnel (the process of transitioning a “visitor” into a “customer”). Perhaps your checkout form is unnecessarily detailed and lengthly? Perhaps your customers add to their basket, continue to browse, and then leave?

If you can get your “add to cart” event rate to match your “new order” rate, that’s a great start, and shows that your conversion funnel is working and optimised. Of course, then next step is then to have your “new order” rate increase, via repeat orders (you could do this by adding an “order again” feature to your online store, if one doesn’t exist already).

Ultimately, the question of “what do I measure, as a merchant” is one I’ve long felt is more or as important as technical performance and scaling. While the technical aspects can be resolved with a great relationship between you, your host, and your eCommerce platform (I choose WooCommerce, of course), the real measure for long term scalability, performance, and growth is far greater than purely a technical metric. When looking at “add to cart” events, we’re really looking at “is my product/service compelling enough for someone to make an initial commitment” events. This is far beyond any technical questions, and important for any and all businesses to measure.

If you can get the majority of your visitors to convert into customers, spending budget on online advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc) should have a better chance of conversation, maximising your overall ad spend. The knock-on benefits of a solid conversion funnel really are incredible, and it all starts with measuring the very first interaction your visitor has with your online store.

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