In the ‘old’ days of ecommerce, reporting was so easy. Shoppers would open up their laptops (or, yikes, boot up their desktops), visit a site, basket an item and buy. We’d tally up orders and visits and use conversion rate as a (or in some cases the only) barometer of performance. But online shopping has evolved in profound ways, so much so that conversion, once the end-all-be-all indicator of ecommerce performance, is becoming less and less relevant.

Why? And what is taking its place as a better performance indicator?

As the Q1 Demandware Shopping Index shows, shoppers meander from device to device, adopting phones as a true shopping device alongside computers and tablets. This cross-device shopping is up 15% year-over-year. More importantly, cross-device shopping is driving an increase in visits. This would seemingly spell trouble for metrics like conversion rate that rely on visits, right? Wrong. Conversion rate has stuck. What was tried and true is now tired and inaccurate. Even though the very basis of the metric has evolved – visits is the denominator – we still focus on conversion rate.

The truth is that visit-focused metrics are simply not in-step with today’s retail reality. Instead, retailers should move away from visit-focused metrics and towards shopper-focused metrics. Those that do will have a much better view of their true performance, and will see there is some really good news.

What do shopper-first metrics look like? First, visits per shopper is up 9%, due in large part to a couple macro-trends: cross-device shopping and the ongoing march towards digital-first shopping.

Moreover, baskets per shopper are up 13%. This comes as great news to retailers, more shoppers are showing real shopping activity and intent. Shoppers are figuratively shouting ‘here is what I like that you sell, I’ve added it to my cart.’ What a fantastic chance for retailers to personalize the shopping experience, and maybe even re-market to shoppers (abandoned cart messaging) to help recognize a shopper regardless of the device they are using.

And finally, the punchline: with all that shopping activity, orders per shopper are up 6%. With visit-focused metrics, you are unable to see the truth in your business, but by framing your business around the shopper, you’ll find a better way – a more fitting way based on today’s retail reality – to measure the health of your business.

What’s going on at your company? Is conversion still the main indicator?

For more trends and insights on digital commerce, read the Demandware Shopping Index.

About the Shopping Index

This comprehensive report analyzes activity of over 200 million shoppers worldwide to identify trends and opportunities for retailers to elevate the shopper experience and grow revenue. The Demandware Shopping Index measures the pace of digital shopping growth, assigning a numerical value to crucial shopper metrics.

The Shopping Index is not indicative of Demandware’s operational performance or its reported financial metrics including GMV growth and comparable GMV growth.