The online marketing space is in constant shift as new technologies, services, and marketing tactics gain popularity and become the new standard. Online store owners are one of the many different segments affected by these constant evolutions. In order for these business owners to survive and thrive, they need to be able to make better decisions faster. This is where web analytics comes into play.
Advanced catalogs. Convert your business into a powerful jewelry search engine and catalog with 600+ filters options. Enhance your collections and search pages with refined filters, providing your customer with a friendly experience to find and buy your product easily. Support to fashion and fine jewelry, including diamonds, gemstones. UPDATED A majority of ecommerce stores fail because they can’t find trending products to sell online. With so many products already available in the market, finding one that sells the best has become an arduous task, especially when there is endless competition and every second ecommerce store is trying to follow the same strategy.
In this article, I will cover the major aspects of web analytics as they apply to the e-commerce space, and I’ll also provide a number of tips and important takeaways for online store owners of every shape and size.
Why Should You Bother with Analytics?
Before I dive into setting up the necessary “tools of the trade,” I think it’s important to take a moment and mention why I believe it is critical that all serious online store owners master the basics of e-commerce web analytics.
Understand What Is Working
As a small-to-medium online store owner, your resources are finite, which means that time and burn rate are critical factors to success. Without knowing which marketing activities are working, you will be wasting both time and money. Another symptom of this lack of information is that you will be missing out on profit from the channels that are working, because instead of doubling down on these channels, your budget will be spread across both profitable and unprofitable channels.
Knowledge Is Power
Having access to statistical information from all areas of your online marketing and sales activities gives you an advantage over competitors that do not have this information. Understanding trends and which marketing channels are no longer profitable allows you to maneuver as a business before damage is done to your bottom line. And, understanding shifts in consumer behavior gives you insights into the demands of your market. Knowing these things enables you to drop certain products or make strategic changes in your pricing that will result in big gains or, at the very least, limit damage to your profits.
Gateway to Higher Conversions
Having relevant statistical information at your fingertips is the first step in building a foundation for continuous experimentation on your website and other areas of your online presence. Being able to test certain copy and the overall layout of your e-commerce site is the next logical step for a profitable business that wants to raise its profits.
Understand Activity in Terms of Funnels
One of the basic concepts of web analytics is funnels. All marketing activities can and should be seen in terms of funnels. The idea of funnel analytics is that your target audience will go through a step-by-step flow or funnel until they make a purchase on your site. A typical marketing funnel may look like this:
- A fan on your business’s Facebook page sees one of your posts.
- The fan clicks on the post.
- The fan arrives on a landing page advertising a specific product and clicks on “add to cart.”
- The fan clicks on checkout.
- The fan enters their personal information and finalizes the purchase.
At each step of the process, a certain percentage of people will drop out of the funnel. Knowing these percentages will help you determine the barriers and psychology behind your customers.
Another classic example of a marketing funnel is that of an email campaign, let’s look at an example:
- You send 1,000 of your past customers an email promoting your summer sale.
- Out of the 1,000, 970 are delivered by your email service.
- Out of the 970, 350 are opened by past customers.
- Out of the 350, 50 click on one of the product links in the email.
- Out of the 50 that clicked, 45 add the product to their shopping cart.
- Out of the 45 that added one or more products to their shopping cart, 10 finalize their purchase.
When looking at this funnel, we can see that the campaign resulted in a 1% conversion rate. This number, however, does not tell the whole story. We can see that there were significant drops at the “open email,” “click on product link,” and “finalize purchase” stages. Now, we know where to focus our attention.
Track Everything Possible
In the world of web analytics, all traffic can be divided into 4 categories. These are search, referral, campaign, and direct. Search traffic is traffic that comes directly from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Referral traffic is traffic that comes directly from a link on a different website. Campaign traffic is traffic that has been tagged by the marketer. Direct traffic is traffic that doesn’t have a known source. As you work with Google Analytics, these 4 categories will become more familiar.
A good practice is to manually tag your marketing campaigns so they are better segmented within Google Analytics. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you publish two posts to Facebook. The first is a regular post about your industry, and it links to a blog post on your site. The second is a special post announcing a new promotion. If you aren’t manually tagging these links, then all the traffic from both posts will appear in Google Analytics as Referral traffic with Facebook being the referrer. It would be more useful to tag each of these posts as different campaigns.
The way you tag links is with UTMs. UTM tags are small snippets of text which appear at the end of a link. Below is an example of a UTM tagged link:
Store owners need to use UTMs on every single link that drives traffic to any of their web properties. If you don’t have access to the link – for example, if it’s a link in an email campaign being sent out by a partner – then send the UTMs to the partner and ask him or her to add them to the link. The more segmented your traffic the more you can learn about the different channels.
Below are links to great resources on UTMs and tagging your campaigns:
- URL Builder (a must!).
Set Up Your Funnel Analytics
When it comes to funnel analytics for e-commerce sites, I recommend Google Analytics. The reasons I like these GA is because Google provides great support for e-commerce analytics natively within Google Analytics.
Get Started with Google Analytics’s E-commerce Integration
Google Analytics has become a standard tool when it comes to web analytics because of its ease of use, informative reports, and the fact that it’s free. Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for e-commerce sites because Google allows you to send all your sales data to your Google Analytics account. Once this integration is set up, all your sales will be tied to actual sessions, allowing you to connect sales to specific marketing channels.
Setting up e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics is a multi-step process which requires that you first enable e-commerce tracking in your Google Analytics admin and then make some changes to your code. This last part can be tricky, and I recommend that you get a programmer friend or your web designer to help you out with this step. If you get stuck, you can check out some of the useful guides listed below:
Other Important Web Analytic Metrics and Where to Find Them
Now that we have covered some of the basics of web analytics and how to set up Google Analytics, I want to cover some other aspects of web analytics.
Email Marketing Funnels
Email marketing is far from dead and should be a major component of your online marketing activities. What makes email marketing unique in regard to web analytics is that all email marketing campaigns have the same basic funnel.
The steps in all email marketing funnels are:
- Sent – The number of emails sent
- Delivered – The number of emails delivered to your campaign list
- Unique opens – The percentage of individuals in your list that opened the email at least once
- Unique clicks – The percentage of individuals in your list that clicked on any of the links in your email at least once
- Visits to your landing page – The percentage of individuals from your list that arrived on your landing page
- Performed action – The percentage of individuals from your list that performed a specific action (examples: subscribed to your newsletter, bought your product, etc.)
The first 4 steps in this funnel should be available to you in your email service, while the rest of the funnel can be measured in Google Analytics.
Social Media Analytics
Social media has become a popular marketing channel for online store owners over the last few years. As with email marketing, it is possible to map out entire funnels for your social media marketing activities.
Facebook Analytics – If you are one of the millions of online businesses that has a Facebook page, then you are most likely familiar with the Facebook Page Insights section. Facebook has rolled out numerous versions of page insights over the last few years. Even though this can be frustrating, the section has become more and more user friendly over time.
Screenshot from the Page Insights of Yotpo’s Facebook page
Below is a list of guides that cover how to use the information available in Facebook’s Page Insights:
Twitter Analytics – Twitter is another very popular social media network for online store owners. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t provide analytics to regular users like Facebook does. Twitter does offer analytics to advertisers and users that use Twitter Cards.
I recommend using a service like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Buffer to get analytics on impressions and clicks on your tweets.
Twtrland also allows you to run searches on other Twitter users
Pay-Per-Click and Other Paid Marketing Activities
PPC can be a very profitable channel for certain e-commerce sites, and I highly recommend that you experiment with the channel. The main issue with PPC is it is important that you aren’t “spraying and praying” and that you actually have a strong grasp on the performance of your campaigns. PPC is tough for most and can be very time consuming, so another option is to outsource it. Even if you do decide to outsource it, it is important that you understand the basic terminology so you can understand the reports the outside company will provide you. Command p for mac.
Below is a list of the common terminology in PPC analytics:
- CPM (Cost-per-mille or cost-per-thousand impressions) – A pricing model that charges for every one thousand impressions (displays of an ad to a user)
- CPC (cost-per-click) – A pricing model that charges for every click on an ad
- CPA (cost-per-action) – A pricing model that charges every time a visitor completes a specific action
- CTR (click-through-rate) – The number of times an ad was clicked divided by the number of times the ad appeared in a given time
- Average position – This is the average position in which your ad appeared within the search results
For a full list of all common ad-related terms, click here.
A/B Testing and Other Optimization Tips
Setting up Google Analytics, and understanding the core analytics within Facebook’s Page Insights, is only the beginning. The real magic happens once you have enough data and you understand what is working and what is not. Then, it’s on to optimization of your funnels and shifting your marketing dollars.
A service I love is Optimizely, which is the most popular A/B testing tool on the market. Optimizely helps you create numerous versions of your web pages and provides in-depth analytics on how these different versions perform. You can run numerous experiments within Optimizely, and with some luck and a lot of patience, you can make massive gains in your conversion rate and average order value.
Below are a number of useful guides and case studies related to A/B testing:
Use an Optimization Calendar
Once you get into the “optimization zone,” you will be making a number of tests and changes to your marketing, website, and other aspects of your business. In order to track everything properly, I recommend setting up a separate calendar in your Google Calendar (or any other calendar tool you are using) to track specific tests. The reason this is a good idea is if there is a big spike in sales, or maybe even the opposite, you won’t know what caused the change if you aren’t recording the tests.
You can use the same calendar for recording the launches of specific marketing campaigns and other activities that might have an effect on your business.
Having a strong data collection setup and access to detailed reports in services like Google Analytics, Facebook, and others will provide you with the information you need to make tough, but critical business decisions. I hope this post has emphasized the importance of web analytics for online store owners and why I believe it is an area which, if mastered, will provide major competitive advantages to store owners.
If you feel there is anything missing from this guide, then please let me know in the comments section below. Looking forward to your feedback.
Justin Butlion is a member of the growth team at Yotpo. He loves to blog about e-commerce, online marketing, web development, and entrepreneurship. Check out his latest posts at the Yotpo blog or contact him directly at [email protected].
With Japan ranking as the world’s 4th largest e-commerce market following China, the United States, and the United Kingdom, it’s reasonable to gravitate towards Japan as a key market to expand your retail business.
Once you decide to sell your products in the Japanese market, one of the first things you need to do is decide whether you will sell via your own website, on a Japanese e-commerce marketplace, or maybe both. While selling your products directly to consumers from your website gives you full control over your brand and higher profit margins, it might be difficult to reach a large audience and generate sales, unless you already have strong brand awareness.
If your brand doesn’t have much awareness in Japan, one solution is to sell on a marketplace where your target audience can already be found. But selecting the right marketplace is essential to scaling your business and we’re here to help you understand who the key players in Japan are.
Top Japanese B2C e-commerce marketplaces
|Website||Monthly site visits (as of June 2019)||Total annual sales (JPY)||Total annual sales (USD)|
|Rakuten||365.37 M||3.43 trillion JPY *||31.7 billion USD|
|Amazon||519.72 M||2.75 trillion JPY **||25.42 billion USD|
|Yahoo! Shopping||78.99 M||731 billion JPY **||6.76 billion USD|
|ZOZOTOWN||29.43 M||308 billion JPY||2.85 billion USD|
|Wowma!||17.77 M||99 billion JPY||915 million USD|
|Qoo10||9.66 M||93 billion JPY **||859 million USD|
*Includes all of Rakuten’s online e-commerce business transactions such as hotel/flight booking, Rakuten Pay, Rakuma, etc.
As you would expect, Amazon and Rakuten, Japan’s leading e-commerce platform, occupy a huge portion of the Japan business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce marketplace share in Japan. Unfortunately, since neither company officially shares its total annual transactions, these numbers are estimates based on multiple public sources. As Rakuten’s annual transactions include its other e-commerce businesses such as hotel/flight booking, Rakuten Pay, and Rakuma (we will cover Rakuma later in this article), it is more likely that Amazon outperforms Rakuten as an e-commerce marketplace.
While Rakuten is known for its busy website design, which may not align with your branding, it holds a huge and loyal customer base with over 100 million members. Rakuten does not only offer a vast e-commerce marketplace, but also a variety of services including mobile payments, online banking, insurance, online travel booking, music streaming, video streaming, job boards, e-books, etc. The platform is popular because users can earn reward points from using its services, which can then be used to purchase products or other services from Rakuten. Approximately 70% of members use Rakuten services at least once a year. With such a large audience, the Rakuten ecosystem may be the best marketplace for you depending on the products you sell.
ZOZOTOWN is the largest fashion-focused e-commerce marketplace in Japan with more than 7,000 brands selling on it. If you want to reach a fashion-forward audience, ZOZOTOWN might be your best bet as over 8 million people make purchases on ZOZOTOWN annually. However, you need to be aware of its high royalty fees (reportedly around 30% of your sales go to ZOZOTOWN) as well as the qualifications you need to meet in order to sell on the platform. While the qualifications are not publicly available, it is rumored that brands be fairly established and meet certain sales metrics.
【Related Article】How One Japanese Company is Pioneering the Fashion-tech User Experience – An Interview with ZOZO, Inc.
There are a few up and coming e-commerce marketplaces in Japan focused on selling to young women interested in affordable and trendy products.
- Wowma! is a new marketplace that launched in 2017. It is a subsidiary of KDDI Corporation, a Japanese telecommunications operator, and the holding company of one of the major mobile carriers, au. Many of Wowma!’s main users are young women who also use au.
- Qoo10, formerly known as GMarket, is a popular e-commerce marketplace in Southeast Asia that offers affordable products, apparel, and cosmetics. Qoo10.jp was acquired by eBay in 2018 and is currently operated by eBay Japan. Its customer base overlaps with Wowma!’s as it is very popular among young women.
The e-commerce landscape in Japan
In 2018, the total size of the Japanese e-commerce market was 166 billion USD (1 USD = 108.37 JPY). The Japanese e-commerce market is broken into 3 categories: 51.7% retail, 37.0% services, and 11.3% digital content. Although the market size of all of these categories has increased in comparison to the previous year, the increase in the service category is the most prominent.
Several of the dominant key players in this market offer a multitude of product lines that allows them to be multifaceted, reaching a wider range of consumers. They have contributed to much of the e-commerce market growth seen in the graph below.
3 marketing trends you should know before selling products online in Japan
1) Consumers expect lower prices on the internet
The chart below illustrates the price gaps in different countries between online and brick and mortar stores. In Japan, 45% of products are cheaper online, 48% of products are the same price as brick and mortar stores, and 7% of products are cheaper at brick and mortar stores. We found it surprising that in Japan the lowest price can be found online almost half the time compared to most countries that don’t usually have a price gap between online and offline shopping. Pricing is the same online and at brick and mortar stores in most of the other countries, as we often see “price matching” promotions.
Source: Cavallo, A (2017) “Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-Channel Retailers”, American Economic Review
Japanese online stores typically lower prices because online shopping is not a very popular shopping method for many Japanese consumers. Since most retailers are concentrated in major cities in Japan, Japanese consumers can conveniently go to the store to buy the things they need, which is more efficient than waiting for products to be delivered to their homes.
Therefore, Japanese consumers have the expectation that they can purchase products cheaper online. With price comparison websites in Japan like kakaku.com, it’s easy for Japanese consumers to find the cheapest place a product is sold. This forces retailers to lower prices to meet customer expectations and be competitive. However, lowering the price is not sustainable for long-term growth and price should not be the only factor to consider to stay competitive. It’s extremely important to define your value proposition and present additional values to your customers besides cost.
2) The rise of the C2C market
The consumer-to-consumer (C2C) marketplace market has significantly expanded in the last few years. The C2C marketplace is where consumers can sell products directly to other consumers. It includes platforms like second-hand marketplaces, online auction sites, and hand-made products marketplaces. The list below shows the major players in the Japanese C2C marketplace market.
|Website||Users||Total annual sales (JPY, as of 2018)||Total annual sales (USD)|
|Mercari||17.51 million (monthly active users)||417.8 billion JPY||3.86 billion USD|
|Yahoo! Auction||16.09 million (monthly active users)||901.1 billion JPY||8.33 billion USD|
|Rakuma||8 million (total users)||150 billion JPY **||1.36 billion USD **|
|minnie||10.27 million (app downloads)||12 billion JPY||111 million USD|
The market size of the second-hand C2C marketplace was estimated at 5.9 billion USD in 2018 (1 USD = 108 JPY). The market has substantially grown in the past 6 years since the first second-hand C2C marketplace app was launched in 2012. The growth has mainly been led by Mercari, an app that allows consumers to easily buy and sell second-hand products.
Many people use the Mercari app similar to how they would use the outfit rental service app, Rent the Runway: they buy clothes from Mercari at an affordable price and wear them once or twice, then sell it on Mercari again. In this way, they have access to an unlimited cloud-based closet shared with others.
With the rise of the C2C market, we see interesting changes in consumer behavior. With direct access to sell products in just a few taps on a smartphone, consumers seem to be purchasing brand new products as they can easily sell them if they don’t work. For example, if the clothes you just bought don’t fit well or you no longer like the clothes, you can sell them anytime and use the money to buy something else. It may sound contradictory, but C2C marketplaces encourage consumers to buy products from retailers because it provides a safety net for customers who are more hesitant to buy products they aren’t sure of.
Online auction sites, like Yahoo! Auction, have also contributed to the growth of the C2C e-commerce market though they have been around for about 20 years in the Japanese market. The online auction market size in 2018 was approximately 9.34 billion USD. (Note: online auction transactions include B2B and B2C transactions along with C2C transactions.)
It would seem that there would be a decline in online auction sales with the rise of other second-hand C2C marketplaces. However, the estimated online auction market size has continued to grow even after the rise of second-hand C2C marketplaces because the motivation of the sellers and buyers are different in these two marketplaces:
- The goal of second-hand C2C marketplace sellers is to get rid of products with the hope to gain some profit from things they no longer need while the goal of buyers is to buy products at the most inexpensive price, new or used.
- The goal of online auction site sellers is to sell valuable products at the highest price possible while the goal of buyers is to purchase relatively rare products they find valuable.
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3) Seniors are shopping on mobile
If you have a stereotype that seniors are not tech savvy, you are missing out on a huge business opportunity. The older generation is starting to drive online sales and will continue to contribute more in the future.
More and more older Japanese are using smartphones. According to a research paper by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 85.5% of Japanese people in their 40s and 72.2% in their 50s owned a smartphone in 2017, which is a significant increase from 64.8% and 41.8%, respectively in 2014. In addition, the research paper stated that the monthly consumption expenditure of those in their 50s is 2,700 USD while those in their 20s is 1,570 USD. With the increase in the older generation using smartphones, we can see the potential growth in mobile commerce activities.
We are already seeing a growth in mobile commerce by senior users by looking at Rakuten’s C2C marketplace app, Rakuma. According to Rakuten, the number of new users in their 60s to 90s has increased by 29.8 times in 3 years! Also, their average transaction rate is 123% higher than users in their teens and 20s.
Considering that Japan is entering a “super-aged society” and 27.7% of the Japanese population are people older than 65 years old, you might want to shift your strategy to focus on the older generation to scale your business or change your UX to be more senior friendly.
The e-commerce market has been growing and will continue to do so for a while. After seeing success stories of D2C brands like FABRIC TOKYO and Allbirds, selling products directly to customers is very appealing.
Launching a brand in a new market is hard and can be a substantial investment, especially if you don’t have much brand awareness in the market yet. If that’s the case for you with the Japanese market, you might want to consider utilizing a Japanese e-commerce marketplace while you build your brand in Japan. Selecting the right marketplace and/or partner is essential.
Since there is no playbook or a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s important that you fully understand the local market and your customers to increase your odds of success when entering the market. Here at btrax, we have helped many global brands to expand business into the Japanese market and can help you as well.
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Edit by: Julie Saephan