Ecommerce Benchmarks: 2020 in Review

ecommerce benchmarks email marketing

One thing is certain: 2020 was a strange year—no one could’ve possibly imagined what lay ahead and how everyone would have to quickly adapt to an increasingly online world. 

At the onset of the pandemic, more and more businesses turned their focus to ecommerce, where customers can shop their favorite brands’ online storefronts from the comfort of their homes. It also brought an opportunity for businesses to reach a much wider audience, as they were no longer limited to physical spaces and locations anymore.

In fact, ecommerce sales jumped from 16 percent of all retail sales in the United States to 27 percent of all sales from 2019 to April 2020 alone.

ecommerce benchmarks 2020

Establishing an online presence as a brand comes with its own challenges, though, and in order to grow your businesses, you need to identify which marketing strategies will have the biggest impact. 

While many ecommerce marketers have relied on email to engage online shoppers, this strategy comes with questions of its own. When it comes to email marketing, how do you know where to start and whether your efforts are paying off? 

Maybe you’ve wondered, “What’s the average conversion rate for email marketing?” “What’s considered a good conversion rate?” or “What open rate should I aim for?” 

Benchmarks can help you answer some of these questions, but the truth is that it depends. Your metrics will vary based on your business, your audience, and what strategies you put in place. 

2020 ecommerce benchmarks

To help summarize 2020, Klaviyo’s data science team reviewed four key metrics for more than 50,000 brands across several industries out of our benchmarks dataset. The metrics analyzed include:

Metric Formula
Open Rate Opens/Number of Emails Delivered
Click Rate Clicks/Number of Emails Delivered
Conversion Rate Orders Placed/Number of Emails Delivered
Revenue per recipient (RPR) Revenue/Number of Emails Delivered

This dataset covers both campaigns (one time sends) and automated flows, or email automations. 

One thing you’ll notice is that the same metrics are overall higher for flows than campaigns. This is because flow emails are, in a lot of cases, aimed directly at actively engaged customers—for example, abandoned cart or browse abandonment flows—compared to campaigns, which may go to customers who haven’t engaged with your brand recently. 

So how do you personalize ecommerce benchmarks to your business?

To help you find where you can improve the most in your email marketing strategy, Klaviyo recently released Benchmarks. This feature gives you unique comparisons of your key metrics to a personalized peer group of similar companies and your industry overall. 

Industry benchmark data is a good place to start, but to get even more granular, you can personalize all of the metrics and analysis presented in this article for your company, peer group, and industry through this new feature. 

2020 over time: Industry benchmark data

Klaviyo’s industry-level benchmark data shows ecommerce performance for 2020. 

Looking at the top of the funnel for two large industries—apparel and accessories and health and beauty—the boost in ecommerce in 2020 is immediately apparent. Starting in March, it’s clear that customers were more actively opening emails as they followed stay-at-home orders. 

Compared to 2019 there was little difference at the start of 2020, but from March onward, the increase in customer engagement for emails is clear. 

Moving down the funnel, click rates show a similar pattern, but they go back to 2019 levels in the latter part of the year. Since this dip happens around Cyber Weekend and the holidays, though, this might be due to the amount of competition that arises around this time.

ecommerce benchmarks email click rate apparel accessories

ecommerce benchmarks email click rate health and beauty

You can dive all the way into actual purchases attributed to campaign emails by looking at email conversion rate, which shows a notable increase from 2019.

ecommerce benchmarks email conversion rate apparel accessories

ecommerce benchmarks email conversion rate health beauty

Finally, consider how much actual revenue is attributed to one email campaign on average for these industries through the revenue per recipient (RPR) metric, which is also noticeably higher than in 2019.

ecommerce benchmarks email RPR apparel accessories

ecommerce benchmarks email RPR health beauty

You can see that the pattern of increased customer engagement is consistent throughout the entire marketing funnel, from customers opening the email to making a purchase.

Campaigns

Here’s a more detailed look at the 2020 data for different industries. In the below table, you can find key metrics for ecommerce industries in 2020. 

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 18.12% 2.12% 0.11% $0.11
Automotive 20.67% 2.37% 0.10% $0.17
Electronics 20.53% 1.81% 0.07% $0.07
Food & Beverage 20.79% 2.06% 0.28% $0.20
Hardware & Home Improvement 21.62% 2.29% 0.10% $0.16
Health & Beauty 17.31% 1.43% 0.15% $0.11
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 20.11% 1.99% 0.09% $0.12
Jewelry 17.57% 1.85% 0.08% $0.08
Mass Merchant 19.70% 1.15% 0.04% $0.01
Office Supplies 21.21% 2.16% 0.16% $0.12
Specialty 19.09% 1.93% 0.15% $0.13
Sporting Goods 20.65% 2.35% 0.9% $0.11
Toys & Hobbies 20.95% 2.16% 0.13% $0.09

Just because the metrics are higher for one industry doesn’t mean that they’re simply better at marketing. Each industry is different, and depending on strategies, audience, and products, the metric values may just be an indicator of how different industries optimize their marketing efforts differently or how those customers respond to email marketing. 

You can better account for these differences for your individualized businesses when you calculate your personalized peer group with benchmarks inside of Klaviyo.

Flows

What’s an automated flow email? It’s a single email or series of emails sent to a subscriber based on an action that triggers the email. 

Say you have a subscriber on your site and they put an item into their shopping cart but leave without purchasing. That action can trigger a series of emails that use the data from that shopper’s abandoned cart to entice them to return to the site and complete their purchase.

Klaviyo classifies and benchmarks specific data for key types of marketing flows. 

First, take an overall look at open rate and conversion rates for all flows for the past year. As mentioned earlier, the interaction metrics are higher across the board compared to campaigns since flows are normally more targeted and aimed at already engaged customers. 

ecommerce benchmarks email automation open rate apparel accessories

ecommerce benchmarks email automation open rate health beauty

ecommerce benchmarks email automation conversion rate apparel accessories

ecommerce benchmarks email automations conversion rate health beauty

You can see that the pattern is very similar to the campaign data we looked at earlier. 

Additionally, here’s a summary of overall flow performance for all industries in 2020:

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 39.85% 6.59% 1.84% $1.64
Automotive 42.51% 7.88% 1.70% $3.53
Electronics 40.96% 6.62% 1.32% $1.25
Food & Beverage 42.73% 6.91% 2.13% $1.32
Hardware & Home Improvement 42.10% 7.14% 1.82% $3.25
Health & Beauty 37.84% 5.79% 1.50% $1.00
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 41.03% 6.80% 1.55% $1.92
Jewelry 39.52% 6.66% 1.42% $1.23
Mass Merchant 37.32% 5.44% 0.96% $0.37
Office Supplies 41.69% 7.32% 1.76% $1.36
Specialty 39.41% 6.73% 1.60% $1.15
Sporting Goods 44.27% 7.75% 1.71% $2.32
Toys & Hobbies 42.48% 7.04% 1.63% $1.16

Going deeper: Klaviyo’s view into key marketing flows

What specific email flows were most effective in 2020? Take a deeper look at the key flows that contributed to ecommerce brands’ strategies.

Welcome series

When you consider which automated flows are the most important to set up, a welcome series is at the top of the list next to an abandoned cart flow. A welcome series is a great way to reach subscribers when they’re most interested since they likely just signed up to receive emails from your brand. 

The series also serves as an opportunity to make a good first impression with a subscriber and drive engagement. Many brands offer a time-sensitive incentive in their welcome series to drive first purchases, too.

Here are the email performance benchmarks for a welcome series across the same 13 industries from earlier.

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 43.01% 6.95% 2.37% $2.31
Automotive 47.59% 9.20% 1.50% $3.01
Electronics 43.77% 7.37% 1.50% $1.75
Food & Beverage 46.86% 7.71% 2.41% $1.47
Hardware & Home Improvement 44.57% 8.80% 2.10% $3.32
Health & Beauty 40.65% 6.62% 2.11% $1.44
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 42.85% 7.53% 1.87% $2.79
Jewelry 40.28% 6.86% 1.76% $1.90
Mass Merchant 35.04% 4.82% 0.89% $0.60
Office Supplies 46.33% 9.12% 3.07% $1.70
Specialty 42.56% 7.23% 1.89% $1.49
Sporting Goods 46.94% 9.03% 1.77% $2.73
Toys & Hobbies 46.48% 8.03% 2.01% $1.77

Abandoned cart flow

Abandoned cart automated flows are usually the first or second flow that ecommerce marketers or business owners put in place because they’re easy to set up and they tend to drive a significant amount of revenue. 

Because these emails are time-sensitive and highly targeted to the individual subscriber, the benchmark data shows conversion rates that are 3x greater than other automated email flow on average. While abandoned cart emails have a slightly lower open rate than other automated emails, such as the welcome series, their main purpose is to increase revenue while other flows may focus more on increased engagement. 

Here are the email performance benchmarks for abandoned cart automated flows.

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 39.65% 8.54% 4.00% $3.42
Automotive 40.77% 9.26% 3.79% $8.75
Electronics 38.89% 7.59% 3.08% $2.60
Food & Beverage 40.98% 8.54% 4.46% $2.78
Hardware & Home Improvement 39.03% 8.97% 3.95% $6.11
Health & Beauty 37.39% 7.48% 3.57% $2.38
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 40.00% 8.66% 3.69% $4.16
Jewelry 39.46% 8.39% 3.55% $2.88
Mass Merchant 33.72% 6.94% 1.95% $0.76
Office Supplies 39.86% 8.71% 4.29% $2.54
Specialty 38.51% 8.32% 3.63% $2.43
Sporting Goods 43.05% 9.39% 4.18% $5.36
Toys & Hobbies 39.71% 8.36% 3.96% $2.78

Browse abandonment

Not everyone who visits your website for the first time is ready to purchase, but a browse abandonment email could help. 

When someone visits your site and views a product but doesn’t add it to their cart or purchase it, you could send them a browse abandonment email. 

A browse abandonment series helps you send automated, targeted emails to shoppers who viewed a particular product on your website. These emails help move people further down the buying cycle. 

They’ve already discovered your brand, they’re interacting on your website, but they may need a few more personal touchpoints before purchasing. This automated flow is an easy and smart way to drive re-engagement and recover potentially lost revenue.

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 39.87% 6.57% 0.94% $0.87
Automotive 44.87% 8.57% 1.02% $2.11
Electronics 45.31% 7.30% 0.91% $0.78
Food & Beverage 43.64% 7.14% 1.87% $1.19
Hardware & Home Improvement 44.23% 7.50% 1.08% $1.44
Health & Beauty 40.88% 6.22% 1.34% $0.98
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 41.54% 7.30% 0.95% $1.17
Jewelry 41.47% 6.80% 0.82% $0.71
Mass Merchant 34.62% 4.23% 0.36% $0.14
Office Supplies 39.45% 6.04% 1.87% $1.17
Specialty 42.42% 7.10% 1.26% $1.03
Sporting Goods 46.53% 8.62% 1.00% $1.35
Toys & Hobbies 44.59% 7.55% 1.21% $0.95

Thank you flow

You usually trigger a thank you email flow a short period after a customer’s purchase. It’s a great way to show your appreciation for their purchase and to drive engagement that will make them remember your brand and come back to buy again.  

Since the primary goal of the thank you email is engagement and retention rather than to encourage an immediate sale, it usually has a high open rate and lower conversion metrics. 

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 55.49% 4.50% 0.62% $0.39
Automotive 60.73% 5.95% 0.77% $0.89
Electronics 57.02% 5.77% 0.46% $0.24
Food & Beverage 53.09% 4.42% 0.79% $0.42
Hardware & Home Improvement 52.94% 5.06% 0.36% $0.31
Health & Beauty 49.20% 4.03% 0.46% $0.23
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 56.97% 5.16% 0.54% $0.41
Jewelry 56.78% 5.30% 0.50% $0.2
Mass Merchant 52.82% 5.53% 0.23% $0.08
Office Supplies 57.05% 4.82% 0.68% $0.32
Specialty 52.33% 5.26% 0.60% $0.33
Sporting Goods 58.53% 5.43% 0.66% $0.55
Toys & Hobbies 57.41% 5.47% 0.62% $0.31

The future of ecommerce benchmarks

What will 2021 look like for you? Through Klaviyo’s new benchmarks feature, you’ll have access to the same industry-level benchmarks you see here as well as your personalized peer group comparisons, which take into account your specific business, audience, and marketing strategy. 

Benchmarks will let you follow your performance month-over-month so you’ll always know when you’re ahead of the market, if you’ve fallen behind, and what key areas you could improve in.
Interested in more revenue-generating email automations? Check out the six essential marketing automations you should implement to support your ecommerce store. 

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