How to Audit an eCommerce Business
Auditing is an important tool for any investor or entrepreneur hoping to purchase an e-commerce business. But, preparing for the sale of your business isn’t the only reason to conduct a site audit. Routine auditing can help business owners take stock of their current efforts and identify areas that may impede their growth and sales goals. But, what does an audit entail? And what will an audit tell you about your business? This brief guide walks you through the basics of how to audit an e-commerce business.
What is a Site Audit?
A site audit is a comprehensive evaluation of your e-commerce platform and all vital areas of your business—from your content to supply chain. Auditing paints a clear picture of the overall health of your platform, which is valuable information for those hoping to purchase your business. The results of a site audit paint a roadmap for the continued growth and development of the platform after purchase, much like how a home inspection helps you identify potential pain points before you purchase a house.
What Should an eCommerce Site Audit Include?
eCommerce site audits are extensive. As mentioned above, you should evaluate all aspects of your platform. How much site traffic do you have? How often does that traffic convert to a sale? Does your website design contribute to a positive user experience? To answer these questions, an auditor will evaluate:
- Overall Content
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- Site Architecture
- Overall Site Performance
- Platform Analysis
This is not a comprehensive list, however. An auditor may also evaluate your supply chain, social media channels, and more, in addition to pulling metrics on your website. Nevertheless, most metrics gathered during an e-commerce site audit fall into two basic categories: the conversion rate audit and the content audit.
How To Conduct A Conversion Rate Audit
The conversion rate refers to the percentage of site users who perform a desired action on a website. In e-commerce, the most-desired action is a sale. What percentage of unique users who make it to your website complete a sale? Numerous factors can affect the sales conversion rate on an e-commerce platform, including factors like price, customer reviews, and merchandising, which have nothing to do with the overall quality of your digital platform.
However, it is still vital to optimize your platform for the highest possible conversion rate. A typical conversion rate for a website lies between 2 and 5 percent. If your conversion rate is too low, apart from marketing, there are several possible culprits:
Overall User Experience
Is your website easy to use? Is the user journey simple? Websites with straightforward pathways to products, landing pages, and checkouts garner higher conversion rates. Additionally, relevant marketing, quality images, and valuable content can improve the overall user experience, increasing the amount of time people spend on the site, making it more likely for a sale to occur.
Calls to Action
Is your CTA button too big? Too small? Clear on every page? Non-existent? Once a user lands on your webpage, where do they go next? The simplest way to increase conversion is to provide clear directions to help users get to where you’d like them to go. Said another way, the simplest method to improve conversion is to ask your customer to take the next step.
How easy is it to use your product pages? Do your product pages contain relevant information about the product? Can your customers easily filter their options? Do you make it easy for your customers to make decisions without feeling overwhelmed? Too many choices, poor site-wide searching, or a lack of useful filters can affect the overall online shopping experience.
Perhaps it goes without saying that the checkout process is one of the most important factors for conversion. How simple is your checkout process? Is it easy for your potential customer to enter information? Are the pages clear and easy to read? Do they load quickly? Streamlining the checkout process as much as possible is essential for limiting the number of abandoned carts.
How To Conduct A Content Audit
A content audit is less straightforward than a conversion rate audit. A content audit can include qualitative and stylistic choices, like effective design, relatable imagery, and well-written copy. Yet, there are still plenty of metrics to gather, including data on the website’s organic traffic, click-through rates, site speed, and other information. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console are essential for content audits. Other third-party software like Siteliner, SEMRush, Ahrefs, and similar SEO tools are also vital for gathering this data. Here are a few, but not all, of the important metrics to gather when conducting a content audit:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of any online business. How well you optimize your business for search engine discovery influences your organic traffic. Organic traffic is traffic that arrives at your website via unpaid search results. The amount of organic traffic to your website is an excellent indicator of the overall health of your business. The more organic traffic, the greater the likelihood of reaching customers. In addition, these potential customers are perhaps the most likely to buy your products—they’re searching for them, after all.
Click-through Rates (CTR)
Like organic traffic, the general click-through rate (CTR) for important pages on your site is a good indicator of overall site health. The click-through rate for any given ad, landing page or sales page is an important metric for monitoring conversion. How much traffic does your website receive? How often do users click through to a sales page? A low click-through rate may signify larger content problems—such as copy that is not engaging or otherwise low-quality content—or design issues that influence the user experience.
Site speed is an important and oft-overlooked metric on web platforms. Site speed can influence search rankings and thereby affect your organic traffic. It has a strong impact on the overall user experience. Slow-loading pages can hinder sales in the long run. Slow site speed can be a sign of poorly optimized pages, which may take substantial time to fix. It can also signify larger developmental problems that may require intensive work—qualities that are not attractive to a potential site buyer.