See where you stack up: 2021 Ecommerce Benchmarks

The most important benchmarks are the ones you set against yourself, based on your brand’s past performance. But sometimes, it helps to know where you stand in the industry at large.

That’s why Klaviyo’s data science team has compiled industry benchmarks for 2021 based on results from more than 180,000 Klaviyo customers. 

Curious to see where you fall on the scale from email marketing novice to expert? See how you stack up against these brands. 

2021 ecommerce benchmarks 

The 2021 ecommerce benchmark data summarizes the performance of brands by industry for four key email marketing metrics:

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

As you review this data, remember that your metrics will vary based on your business, your audience, and what strategies you put in place. 

Additionally, industry benchmarks are good initial guideposts for your account. But to get even more granular, you can personalize all of the metrics and analysis presented in this article for your company through Klaviyo’s Benchmarks feature. This feature gives you unique comparisons of your key metrics to a personalized peer group of similar companies and your industry overall. 

2021 over time: Industry benchmark data

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, more businesses turned their focus to the internet, with ecommerce sales growing 30% to 40% per quarter from Q2 2020 through Q1 2021, according to Digital Commerce 360. As for the rest of 2021, ecommerce sales continued to increase but at the much more conservative rates of 9.2% and 6.8% in Q2 and Q3, respectively. 

This jump in ecommerce sales was accompanied by an increase in consumer engagement with email marketing in the first half of 2020 before returning closer to 2019 levels towards the end of the year.

The good news for ecommerce businesses is that in 2021 these metrics settled at a higher place than pre-pandemic levels, with most metrics starting the year stronger than the equivalent months in 2020. Generally, the metrics held at these levels throughout the year. 

Two large industries—apparel and accessories along with health and beauty—represent these trends well.

These tailwinds can be seen starting at the top of the email marketing funnel, with both of these industries having open rates that were roughly 3% higher in January 2021 than in January 2020.

Apparel & Accessories email open rate month-by-month in 2021Health and beauty email open rate month-by-month in 2021

You may notice that open rates begin to climb halfway through 2021, then jump by approximately 5% in October, and continue to rise after that for both industries. This spike is likely driven by Apple’s new privacy features released in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 in September 2021. When enabled, these settings make it appear as if all emails received in Apple Mail are opened by the user. Due to these changes, open rates across all industries were inflated over the last quarter of 2021 and will likely remain at this new level into the future. 

Click rates similarly began the year slightly higher than in 2020 and remained relatively stable at this level throughout 2021. As in 2020, click rates dipped at the end of the year around Cyber Weekend and through the holidays, likely due to the amount of email volume and competition that arises during this time.

Apparel & Accessories email click rate month-by-month in 2021

Health & Beauty email click rate month-by-month in 2021

Email conversion rates tell a similar story, starting the year above early 2020 levels and staying flat until rising in November with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Despite starting the year higher, conversion rates generally were lower throughout the majority of 2021 than in 2020. This year-over-year dip may be due to shoppers returning to stores in 2021 and completing more purchases in-person than in 2020.

Apparel & Accessories email conversion rate month-by-month in 2021

Health & Beauty email conversion rate month-by-month in 2021

Finally, email revenue per recipient (RPR) followed the same trends as conversion rate for these industries with it starting the year higher than 2020, staying flat but falling behind 2020 for the majority of the year, and then jumping to levels equivalent to 2020 during November for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Apparel & Accessories email revenue per recipient month-by-month in 2021

Health & Beauty email revenue per recipient month-by-month in 2021

When combined, all four metrics indicate solid consumer engagement with email marketing throughout 2021. While 2021’s results did not match 2020’s peaks, the metrics all continued to perform at levels higher than before the pandemic—a trend that should excite all ecommerce businesses.

Email Campaigns

Here’s a more detailed look at the 2021 data for different industries. In the table below, you can find key metrics for ecommerce industries in 2021. 

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 23.85% 2.00% 0.10% $0.11
Automotive 25.39% 1.99% 0.08% $0.16
Electronics 25.70% 1.60% 0.06% $0.08
Food & Beverage 26.11% 1.86% 0.26% $0.18
Hardware & Home Improvement 25.99% 1.74% 0.07% $0.13
Health & Beauty 22.22% 1.24% 0.14% $0.11
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 24.83% 1.86% 0.08% $0.12
Jewelry 23.16% 1.75% 0.07% $0.08
Mass Merchant 19.94% 1.02% 0.05% $0.03
Office Supplies 25.75% 1.60% 0.11% $0.11
Specialty 22.89% 1.60% 0.12% $0.11
Sporting Goods 25.38% 2.15% 0.08% $0.12
Toys & Hobbies 25.62% 2.10% 0.12% $0.10

Just because the metrics are higher for one industry doesn’t mean that that industry is better at marketing. Every industry is different. Depending on strategies, audience, and products, the values may simply be an indicator of how industries optimize their marketing efforts differently or how their 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.

Email Flows

An automated flow email is a single email or series of emails sent to a subscriber based on an action that triggers the email. Multiple kinds of these flows exist, and Klaviyo classifies and benchmarks four key types: welcome series, abandoned cart, browse abandonment, and thank you (or post-purchase). 

First, let’s take a look at open rates and conversion rates for all flows for the past year. Keep in mind that these metrics are higher across the board when compared to campaigns, as flows are normally more targeted and aimed at already engaged customers.

Apparel and accessories overall flow open rate month-by-month in 2021

Health and beauty overall flow open rate month-by-month in 2021

Apparel and accessories overall flow conversion rate month-by-month in 2021Health and beauty overall flow conversion rate month-by-month in 2021

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 2021.

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 44.15% 6.25% 1.89% $1.85
Automotive 45.63% 7.08% 1.71% $4.61
Electronics 44.62% 6.40% 1.43% $1.91
Food & Beverage 46.22% 6.43% 2.11% $1.38
Hardware & Home Improvement 45.83% 6.71% 1.69% $2.83
Health & Beauty 40.76% 5.21% 1.61% $1.11
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 44.69% 6.63% 1.65% $2.49
Jewelry 43.74% 6.45% 1.59% $1.62
Mass Merchant 37.25% 5.01% 0.98% $0.65
Office Supplies 45.11% 5.96% 1.71% $1.55
Specialty 42.20% 6.16% 1.62% $1.36
Sporting Goods 47.00% 7.47% 1.75% $2.70
Toys & Hobbies 45.36% 6.54% 1.81% $1.49

Going deeper: Klaviyo’s view into key marketing flows

What specific email flows were the most effective in 2021? Here’s a deeper look at the key flows that contributed to ecommerce brands’ strategies.

Welcome series

One of the best ways to make a good first impression and drive engagement with a new subscriber or customer is sending a welcome series to introduce them to your business and product offerings. 

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 46.83% 6.67% 2.44% $2.57
Automotive 48.65% 7.98% 1.97% $4.76
Electronics 47.55% 6.87% 1.61% $2.26
Food & Beverage 49.25% 7.17% 2.34% $1.52
Hardware & Home Improvement 47.73% 7.15% 1.97% $3.82
Health & Beauty 42.97% 5.88% 2.19% $1.55
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 46.18% 7.15% 2.09% $3.24
Jewelry 44.45% 6.60% 1.83% $2.29
Mass Merchant 40.72% 5.48% 1.70% $1.34
Office Supplies 47.36% 6.29% 2.07% $1.89
Specialty 44.14% 6.88% 1.95% $1.70
Sporting Goods 50.50% 8.16% 1.95% $3.45
Toys & Hobbies 48.00% 7.16% 2.32% $1.93

Abandoned cart email flow

Abandoned cart email flows are an effective way of recapturing the attention of a shopper who showed interest in a product by adding it to their cart, but didn’t check out. You may notice that abandoned cart emails have a slightly lower open rate than other automated emails since their main purpose is to increase revenue as opposed to eliciting engagement. 

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

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 43.71% 8.12% 4.08% $3.85
Automotive 43.92% 8.47% 3.93% $10.27
Electronics 43.33% 7.71% 3.25% $4.19
Food & Beverage 44.10% 8.05% 4.42% $2.91
Hardware & Home Improvement 43.92% 8.48% 3.86% $7.22
Health & Beauty 41.11% 7.14% 3.74% $2.65
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 43.99% 8.54% 3.99% $5.57
Jewelry 44.57% 8.41% 4.00% $3.78
Mass Merchant 38.08% 6.38% 2.64% $1.58
Office Supplies 44.59% 7.98% 4.18% $3.32
Specialty 41.46% 7.63% 3.75% $3.20
Sporting Goods 45.67% 8.96% 4.20% $6.25
Toys & Hobbies 43.36% 8.06% 3.99% $3.07

Browse abandonment

A browse abandonment flow allows you to convert browsers into purchasers by messaging consumers who view a product but do not add it to their cart. While the functionality differs slightly from an abandoned cart, the main goal of these emails is the same: to drive re-engagement and recover potentially lost revenue.

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 42.79% 6.14% 0.88% $0.90
Automotive 45.28% 8.06% 0.98% $2.13
Electronics 47.42% 7.17% 0.82% $1.04
Food & Beverage 45.80% 6.42% 1.63% $1.17
Hardware & Home Improvement 47.30% 7.93% 1.09% $2.01
Health & Beauty 43.32% 5.81% 1.32% $0.97
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 44.42% 6.90% 0.91% $1.33
Jewelry 43.74% 6.54% 0.82% $0.85
Mass Merchant 40.27% 5.20% 0.64% $0.37
Office Supplies 43.74% 5.29% 1.16% $1.14
Specialty 43.24% 6.53% 1.25% $1.04
Sporting Goods 47.76% 7.86% 0.98% $1.44
Toys & Hobbies 45.75% 6.72% 1.23% $0.94

Thank you flow

Marketers have to have manners, too. That’s why many companies use a thank you email flow (or post-purchase email) after customers make a purchase to show their appreciation. This flow also helps to create loyal customers and to drive future engagement.  

Since the goal of the thank you email is engagement and retention rather than to make a sale, it usually has a higher open rate but lower conversion metrics. 

Industry Open Rate Click Rate Conversion Rate RPR
Apparel & Accessories 55.95% 4.17% 0.61% $0.43
Automotive 58.90% 5.78% 0.73% $1.07
Electronics 57.25% 5.13% 0.50% $0.32
Food & Beverage 56.30% 4.12% 0.71% $0.36
Hardware & Home Improvement 55.46% 4.62% 0.51% $0.54
Health & Beauty 50.00% 3.48% 0.40% $0.20
Housewares, Home Furnishings, & Garden 57.78% 4.79% 0.54% $0.46
Jewelry 56.80% 4.74% 0.54% $0.31
Mass Merchant 49.09% 5.04% 0.33% $0.12
Office Supplies 56.33% 3.71% 0.48% $0.30
Specialty 53.49% 4.42% 0.57% $0.35
Sporting Goods 58.88% 5.37% 0.61% $0.55
Toys & Hobbies 56.38% 4.74% 0.62% $0.31

The future of ecommerce benchmarks

What will 2022 look like for you? Through Klaviyo’s benchmarks feature, you’ll have access to the same industry-level benchmarks profiled here, as well as your personalized peer group comparisons, which take into account your specific business, audience, and marketing plan. 

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 where you could improve. With this data, you can make 2022 the best year yet.

Learn more about leveraging benchmarks in Klaviyo.

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