Ecommerce Key Terms: The Vocab You Need To Know

A list of eCommerce key terms: the vocab you need to know. Hopefully, this will shed some light on online shopping concepts you need to know

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 25, 2022
Ecommerce Key Terms: The Vocab You Need To Know

Remember grade school, when you used flashcards and color-coded notes to learn essential terms? The real world is a far cry from those carefree days of fresh pencils and not so fresh school lunches. But the importance of ongoing learning remains, primarily as marketers are held accountable for understanding an online ecosystem that seems to undergo significant climate change almost every day. In this article, you’ll see the eCommerce key terms that you need to know.

Ecommerce Key Terms: The Vocab You Need To Know

That’s why I’m excited to present you with an easy-to-read list of eCommerce key terms. Hopefully, this will shed some light on online shopping concepts you’ve been a little fuzzy on. Even better, I hope it gives you the mind power to improve and optimize your eCommerce site!

Ecommerce Key Terms:: Abandonment

When a user visits your site but does fulfill the desired action (making a purchase, subscribing to your email list, etc.)Example: Gary sees Amazon and adds several iPhone accessories to his cart. When he realized the tab he’s racked up, he gets sticker shock and decides to hold off on making the purchase. When he leaves the site without completing the transaction, this is considered a shopping cart abandonment.

Affiliate Marketing

Partnerships between eCommerce platforms and online publishers, where the publisher endorses/reviews/features a product and is compensated based on eCommerce performance. So, affiliates are paid for a mention. Some are paid commensurate with traffic driven back to the eCommerce site. Some are paid on actual sales generated. Example: Nike partners with Blogging Billy to review their new running shoes. Billy is compensated based on how many Nike eCommerce purchases originate from his article.

Average Time on Site: Ecommerce Key Terms:

The average amount of seconds a user spends on your site. This calculation is based on all site visitors within a given time frame. Example: Nikki visits Zappos and spends 45 minutes and 8 seconds browsing shoes. John sees Zappos but only spends 3 minutes and 2 seconds. The average time on site (between these two users) is 24.05.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of people who view one page on your site, then exit without clicking through to a second. Bounce rate can be calculated for all pages on your site (I.e., The bounce rate on your homepage may be higher than the bounce rate on a product page). Example: Of the 9,000 people who view your Woven Dog Booties page, 2,000 exits without viewing another part of your site. Your bounce rate is 22% (which is excellent – anything below 50% is highly desirable)

Click-Through Rate

Also known as CTR, click-through rate measures the total impressions delivered VS people who clicked. CTR can be calculated for CTAs, product listings, and any other form of a link on your site. Example: Your homepage receives 15,000 visitors per month, and the homepage CTA for featured boots receives 900 clicks. Your CTR is .06, or 6%


A percentage of users who complete an action is divided by users who are presented with the opportunity to meet it. Conversion rates should be tracked on all aspects of Inbound marketing – think open email rates, PPC ad clicks to purchases, etc…But the most crucial conversion rate followed in eCommerce is impression VS purchase. Conversion rates can be tracked over a specific period (I.e., Ad Creative #1 had a 2% conversion rate in November) or on a rolling measurement (I.e., Ad Creative #1 has an overall average conversion rate of .09%). Example: REI creates an AdWords campaign for their outdoor tents. Ad Group 1 has 7,500 impressions, which have generated 1,000 clicks and 500 purchases. The Ad Group has a .067, or 6.7% conversion rate.


HTTP or browser cookies are small bits of information a website sends and stores on a user’s browser. This information is back to the server every time the user visits the website to alert the server of that user’s previous activity. Cookies are in eCommerce for ad targeting, dynamic website content on user signals, and saving shopping carts (also known as persisting the shopping cart). Example: Sean visits to do some Holiday shopping. He spends an hour adding items to his coach for everyone on his list. But then accidentally closes out of the browser. Rather than repeat his selection process, Overstock saves his items (usually for at least seven days) to complete the transaction efficiently the next time he visits.

Discount Code: Ecommerce Key Terms:

Also known as a promo code, discount codes are short alphanumerical values that allow users to access an otherwise hidden discount. Example: Bath and Body Works sends an email to their subscriber database, offering 15% off all purchases made that day with the promo code “15OFF2DAY”. Users enter the code at checkout and see the discount reflected before finalizing the purchase.


Any time a particular item, ad, or image appears to a user. So, an Example: This page on has two banner ads and six text ads. Every time the page load, eight ad impressions appears.


As mobile internet usage continues to grow, mobile commerce has naturally followed. According to Internet Retailer, mCommerce sales reached nearly $25 billion in 2012 – an 81% increase YOY. On top of that, mCommerce conversions jumped 30% from the 2011 to 2012 Holiday seasons.


Sarah is looking to purchase a tablet but doesn’t have time to spend walking through a Best Buy store. Instead, she browses listings on, Amazon, and eBay from her smartphone – and makes a decision based on other user reviews, price comparisons, and interactive product demos.

Merchant Account: Ecommerce Key Terms:

An online bank account that accepts credit card payments, AKA where payments are to an eCommerce store. Example: When Nora purchases a denim jacket from Forever21, the credit card payment is to Forever21’s online merchant account.

Order Tracking

The process in which a customer views their order’s progress leading up to delivery. This is generally using a tracking code when a purchase happens. Example: Patrick orders several nutritional supplements from In his confirmation email, Patrick receives a tracking number to enter on the GNC website to stay up to date on when his order will arrive.

Pageviews: Ecommerce Key Terms:

The total number of times a page on your site is load. Example: Maria is purchasing a trampoline for her backyard. She browses multiple online stores and views the same page on your site three times. This accounts for 3 page views, even though they were all generated by the same user.

Third-Party Payment Processor

The alternative to Merchant Accounts – some eCommerce platforms can accept payment through providers like PayPal.Example: When you purchase an item from eBay, that payment to the seller’s PayPal account rather than their bank account.

Unique Users

Often shortened to “uniques,” unique users are the total number of individuals who visit your site. Example: gets 3.5M page views per month but only has 1M, unique users. This means each user is viewing an average of 3.5 pages.

A useful reference for eCommerce is this article: Declaration of Conformity Template Method: How to Draw Up a Compliant DoC (Inc. 25 Template Downloads)

Did I miss any that you’re still not clear on? Drop me a line in the comments below – perhaps a Key Terms Round 2 is in order? Let me know!

Ecommerce Key Terms: The Vocab You Need To Know

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.