Writings

117 Key Questions Asked by E-Commerce Leaders

By:
Ross Katz

Top e-commerce companies have the capacity to monitor and understand their business in multiple areas, and their leaders know where they need to improve and where they excel. In today’s competitive business environment, those companies who spend the time asking the right questions about their business are the ones who will grow market share, decrease costs, and prepare for the future.  

Very few companies can address all questions at once, so it is critical to prioritize the questions asked. It is also critical to understand which answers will give you the highest impact on your business. 

Below we have shared some of the questions that CorrDyn has helped our clients identify and address across six areas: Finance, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Customer Support, and Technology.  How many can you answer? The more of these that you know, the better positioned you are to succeed.          

Finance

  1. What is our Customer Acquisition Cost overall? For each SKU? For each marketing channel? For each sales channel?
  2. What is our expected Lifetime Value per Customer? For each SKU? For each marketing channel? For each sales channel?
  3. What is our average profit margin? By SKU? By marketing channel? By sales channel?
  4. How many days of inventory are you holding on average? By SKU?
  5. What is the ratio of your projected monthly inflow of cash to outflow of cash?
  6. How much months of cash do you hold in reserves in case of changes in demand or breakdown of operations? 
  7. Are we focused on growth or profitability? What is our target growth rate? What is our target profit margin?
  8. Can we afford to invest in ad spend that increases Customer Acquisition Cost closer to our Lifetime Value in order to drive growth?
  9. What are our most profitable SKUs? 
  10. Which profitable SKUs present the greatest opportunity for growth?
  11. What are our unprofitable SKUs? 
  12. How can we increase the profitability of those SKUs?
  13. Should we consider cutting these SKUs from our portfolio?
  14. What financial impact are product returns having on SKU profitability?
  15. Are there any discrepancies between our payment processing platform, our ERP system, and our financial systems? If so, where are those discrepancies coming from?
  16. What percentage of our buyers come back to purchase within 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? What can we do to increase repeat purchasers (increasing lifetime value)?
  17. What can we do to increase customer referrals (reducing customer acquisition cost)? 
  18. Where are our biggest cost centers as a business? 
  19. What operational metrics do we need to control in order to drive down our long-term costs and increase our long-term profitability? 
  20. What processes can we automate within those cost centers to reduce the overhead costs necessary to operate?

Marketing

  1. What are the characteristics of our top customer segments?
  2. What is the typical journey for customers in each segment making a purchase on our site?
  3. How can we provide content that helps customers at each phase of their journey to move closer to a purchase?
  4. For content that successfully drives conversions, how can we increase the reach of that content? 
  5. How can we target our existing customers with opportunities that increase their likelihood of re-purchase?
  6. Which SKUs have the highest return on ad spend (ROAS)? (ROAS = Total Revenue / Ad Spend)
  7. How does this vary by marketing channel?
  8. How can we reallocate ad spend to maximize ROAS?
  9. Which SKUs and landing pages have the highest number of impressions? 
  10. Why is traffic being driven to those SKUs? Through which channels?
  11. For each SKU landing page, what are the click-through, add-to-cart, checkout, and purchase rates for those product page views? 
  12. How do we drive more organic traffic to our product landing pages? 
  13. What SEO optimizations can we implement to improve traffic?
  14. How can we efficiently A/B test our product landing pages to improve performance?
  15. Which keywords do we rank well for? On which devices?
  16. Which keywords would we like to rank well for? 
  17. What can we do to drive traffic to our site for those keywords?
  18. Which keywords are driving traffic to which SKUs?
  19. Which keywords are driving traffic to our competitors comparable products?
  20. Which keywords are resulting in the highest impression to transaction conversion rate for each SKU?
  21. How can we improve our organic/paid ranking for the keywords that have particularly high conversion?
  22. Which channels represent the greatest opportunity for increased investment and experimentation? 
  23. What early results for products and campaigns can guide our experimentation to yield strong ROI as we continue to experiment?
  24. How are our marketing experiments performing?
  25. What metrics do we use to evaluate the changes we are making to advertising campaigns? To product pages? To checkout process? 
  26. Are marketing campaigns driving unnecessarily high return rates for specific SKUs? What interactions are there between campaign targeting/wording, purchase transactions, and return outcomes?
  27. What additional channels can we leverage to increase our brand awareness?
  28. How can we develop a content strategy that increases our brand awareness among target customer segments?
  29. Should we consider using a Customer Data Platform, like Segment.io or Emarsys?
  30. Are we capturing contact information as soon as possible by, for example, offering discount codes to people who provide their email address on their first visit?
  31. If so, what marketing automation sequences do we have in place to lead these customers through their journey toward a purchase?
  32. Which advertising channels are converting best? Where is there the biggest opportunity for advertising improvement: Direct/Organic Search, Un-Branded Paid Search, Branded Paid Search, Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, Social, Email, Referrals?
  33. What are the opportunities for improvement within each marketing category?
  34. Do we have a loyalty program in place? 
  35. How can we encourage our existing customers to make another purchase? 

Sales

  1. Which product categories are driving company growth? 
  2. Where are our opportunities to expand growing product categories with new product offerings? New sizes? New complimentary items to high sales items?
  3. What new sales channels can we explore?
  4. Which payment options do we offer on the site? Are we losing customers because of payment processing challenges?
  5. Who are your biggest competitors?
  6. What are the competitor product categories that are beating you?
  7. Which are the features of competitor products and marketing approach that are beating you? 
  8. How can we expand the share of wallet for our existing customers?
  9. How can we access more customers in our target segments?
  10. What are we doing to follow up on abandoned carts? How can we reduce the cart abandon rate? 

Operations

  1. Is our ERP system meeting our operational needs across the organization? Where are the most expensive breakdowns in the platform or its integrations?
  2. Which suppliers are consistently meeting product delivery SLAs? Missing product delivery SLAs?
  3. How many hours have we been out-of-stock overall? For each SKU? 
  4. What do we predict for upcoming inventory excluding outstanding supplier purchases? 
  5. What do we predict for upcoming inventory including outstanding supplier purchases and expected delivery dates?
  6. How do we forecast demand more accurately? How do we forecast supply more accurately? How do we forecast inventory more accurately?
  7. How can we minimize the variables impacting supply?
  8. Which SKUs have the highest return rates?
  9. What are the reasons for the returns?
  10. Which products consistently have the wrong size purchased? Too large or too small?
  11. What is our on-time delivery rate for each delivery channel? For each SKU?
  12. For product exchanges, what are the most common SKUs exchanged? 
  13. What is our trend in average time from order to ship? By SKU? By Shipping Channel?
  14. What is our trend in average time from ship to receipt? By SKU? By Shipping Channel?
  15. Where is there the highest friction or lag-time in our fulfillment pipeline?
  16. What processes can we automate to reduce friction or lag-time in our fulfillment of orders? 
  17. Where is there the highest friction or lag-time in our purchasing pipeline?
  18. What processes can we automate to reduce friction or lag-time in our re-stocking of inventory? 
  19. What processes currently require manual communication between members of our team to move things forward? 
  20. How can we automate those communications and integrations to reduce cycle time and key-person dependency?

Customer Support

  1. What are our trends in customer reviews by SKU and sales channel?
  2. For poorly rated products, what is driving negative reviews?
  3. For positively rated products, what is driving positive reviews?
  4. What is our one-touch resolution rate? How can we increase this rate?
  5. Do we manage a list of frequently asked questions and answers about our products? If so, how frequently is this used?
  6. How long does it take our team to respond to support requests in each channel? Chat? Phone? Email?
  7. Are we collecting survey feedback on our customer support experience? If so, what are our trends in net promoter score? What qualitative feedback is driving the trend?
  8. Which SKUs and product categories are driving the most support requests?
  9. What is the cost of support for a given SKU? Does that alter our calculation of SKU profitability?
  10. Are there customer segments that make more support requests?
  11. Does that alter our perception of target segments?
  12. How can we push more customer requests into an automated channel that meets their needs?
  13. Which customer support representatives consistently receive the best customer feedback? What are they doing differently?

Technology

  1. Which platform should we utilize for our e-commerce site? 
  2. What requirements do we have regarding product portfolio size, invoicing, payment, supplier integration, payment processing, warehousing, logistics, and frontend integration?
  3. What ERP system should we utilize to manage our business?
  4. Does our e-commerce platform integrate with our accounting systems?
  5. Does our e-commerce platform enforce PCI compliance for our company?
  6. Are we able to efficiently allocate state taxes to purchasers across the US, per state tax nexus laws?
  7. Is our infrastructure secure in protecting our customers’ information?
  8. Are we able to expand our integrations with other sales channels, such as Amazon and Wal Mart? 
  9. Is our site mobile-friendly? Do we rank similarly for our top keywords on mobile as we do on desktops?
  10. How do our conversion rates compare between mobile and desktop? What can we do to bring our mobile conversion up to the level of desktop?
  11. What level of support do we receive from our e-commerce platform vendor? Do we have the flexibility to do what we need to do to grow our business?

Business Intelligence and Analytics

  1. Do we have a data warehouse that provides a comprehensive view of the business?
  2. Do we have a business intelligence suite in place? 
  3. If so, have we identified KPIs for each department? 
  4. Does our leadership team have an automated, ongoing view of all department KPIs?
  5. If not, are most of our analyses happening in Excel? How much repetitive work is this creating for our team leaders?
  6. Are our team leaders encouraged to explore their data on an ad hoc basis? Are they able to answer the most important questions about their business? 
  7. Are we at a sufficient scale to implement a recommendation engine?
  8. Have we explored customer data platforms to expand our understanding of our customer segments and site usage? 
  9. Are we capturing sufficient data from our site tracking infrastructure? Do we have clickstream level data on every visitor to our site?

Would you like to learn more about how CorrDyn can help you identify the business drivers that will have the highest impact on your growth? Our team can help you develop a plan to implement the changes your business needs to become more efficient, more effective in decision-making, and more profitable. If you want to start a conversation, please reach out to us!