The eCommerce Jargon Buster - VinnyAndCo
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-388,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1300,side_area_uncovered_from_content,footer_responsive_adv,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-13.1.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.5,vc_responsive

The eCommerce Jargon Buster

ecommerce jargon buster

The eCommerce Jargon Buster

Nobody likes to be bamboozled with jargon do they? Working in an office that lives and breathes eCommerce on a daily basis, however, it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everyone knows their AOV from their PCI.

Of course there are times when more technical terms are unavoidable – there just isn’t another word for SSL certificate. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help explain what exactly this is or what it means. And so our eCommerce jargon buster is born.


Affiliate Marketing Definition

A popular online strategy to increase your market share by allowing your product or service to be advertised for sale on 3rd party websites. This will involve a commission arrangement with the 3rd party, to be paid whenever they generate a sale for your website.

Anonymous checkout

A checkout process where a user completes the transaction without creating an account on the seller’s website.

Average order value (AOV)

The average amount spent per customer order. Often used as a performance metric.
E.g. “As a business owner, looking at the average order value is a great metric to gauge annual revenue growth.”


Marketing attribution is the practice of dividing credit between  any channel (whether it’s social media, email, telephone, etc) that a customer comes in to contact with on their journey to conversion.


Analytics is what we call the process of deriving meaningful patterns within data. 

When we talk about ‘using analytics’ we are often talking about a specific platform (Google Analytics, Omniture) built to measure the traffic coming to our websites. It can tell us how much traffic is coming in, where it’s coming from, how long visitors spend on specific pages and whether they leave immediately, amongst many other insights.

For more detailed information download our 54 page Measurement and Analytics Report and read our surprisingly entertaining dictionary of data and analytics.


Marketing automation refers to any software or technology put in place to automatically serve people marketing communications on a variety of online channels in order to save time and resources. There’s a huge array of disciplines within automation, so here are just a few examples…

  • The way Amazon tailors its homepage to the individual user, creating a unique and more inviting experience based on products they’ve purchased or browsed.
  • Basket abandonment emails sent automatically after you’ve left an ecommerce site without purchasing.
  • Scheduling your marketing messages on Twitter so they send throughout the week without someone having to physically click send every time. Particularly useful if you’re wanting to catch a territory while you’re still in bed.

Beacons and near-field communications (NFC) 

These are types of transmitters that can deliver targeted information to a user’s mobile device whenever they go near it with an enabled app.

Apple has introduced a version, named iBeacons, to its own stores. Customers are greeted on their iPhone as they walk through the door, are shown product information, offered promotions and the ability to pay without queuing.

Big data

A buzzword that is a much shorter way of saying ‘the massive volume of data that has suddenly become available to us thanks to the rise of online traffic, which has in turn led to the need for accurate analytics packages and improvements in understanding the data accrued.’


Business to Business: A type of business transaction between two business entities that are not the final consumers of the goods or services.


Business to Consumer: Business transactions between a business entity and a consumer.

Content marketing

Audiences have wised up to the hard sell and the dry press release, so it’s become vital for companies to provide high-quality content that audiences actually really engage with.

Content can be anything from videos, blog posts, how-to-guides, images, photography, infographics, podcasts… anything produced via any media that isn’t a simple press release or mission statement, that is subsequently seeded around the internet and hopefully shared by the fans or followers of your brand.

Content should be one (or all) of three things: entertaining, interesting or useful. If the content isn’t any of the above, then the content has no value and people won’t stake their online reputation by sharing it.

Read the following to learn more about the importance of quality content.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

If people visiting your site aren’t achieving the goal you actually intend them to achieve (a conversion) then you need to optimise your site to increase your conversion rate.

You can do this through testing various elements of your website to either make it easier for visitors to use (perhaps your navigation is too hidden) or to make it more persuasive (perhaps by changing the colour of a ‘buy-it-now’ button).

Customer experience (CX)

Here are the two different ways marketers refer to customer experience, both of which are entirely related…

  • Customer experience is the sum of all the experiences a customer has with a business during their entire lifetime relationship, taking in not just the key touchpoints (product awareness, social contact, the transaction itself, post purchase feedback) but also how personal and memorable these experiences are.
  • Customer experience can also refer to the quality of an individual experience a customer has over the course of a single transaction.

Bear in mind that the ‘entire lifetime relationship’ can be anything from a single transaction to 80 solid years of brand loyalty.

Read the following for information on how to measure customer experience.

Customer experience management (CEM)

Customer experience management is a strategy used to track, oversee and organise all interactions a business has with its customers, in order to build more meaningful relationships, which can differentiate your brand and help keep customers for life.


In eCommerce, products are often grouped into a hierarchy of categories and subcategories. E.g. “Our bespoke furniture eCommerce store is organised using categories like bedroom, living room and home office. Subcategories include type of wood finish.”

Checkout process

The process of gathering the payment information, address and order verification that is necessary to complete the purchase of items in the shopping cart. In the final step, the customer reviews and places the order.
E.g. “Best practices in eCommerce require having a user-friendly and smooth checkout process.”


A tracked, successful action that website visitors complete. For example, this could be when a website visitor completes the checkout process or downloads

Conversion rate

The ratio of conversions to visits, often used to measure digital performance. For example, if you have received 200 clicks and 5 conversions, your conversion rate is 2.5%.

Coupon code/ discount code

A special code a customer may enter during checkout to apply a discount.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value is the total worth of a customer to a business over the entirety of their relationship.

Measuring CLV will help provide meaningful insights into how you can plan future marketing campaigns and improve future customer interactions. 

It can help you decide how much your company should invest in retaining existing customers and how you should divide budget between retention and acquisition. Ultimately CLV can give you a strong indication of your company’s health in the long-term.

For more detailed information download our report: Customer Lifetime Value: Building Loyalty and Driving Revenue in the Digital Age.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

CRM is is the name for any system or model used to manage a company’s interactions with its current or future clients or customers.

This system is a piece of technology used to organise, automate and synchronise all of the customer facing areas within your company: from marketing to sales to customer service to technical support.

It gives you the time to develop other areas of your business, whilst giving you the reassurance that you’re not letting your existing clients down or responding to new enquiries in an efficient manner.

Data visualisation

A data visualisation brings your difficult to read data to life in a captivating, image-based and shareable way.


A method of fulfilling orders where a retailer has items shipped directly from the manufacturer or supplier to the customer.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation refers to the change that all businesses and organisations will have to go through in order to succeed in an increasingly digital led world.

These changes can occur everywhere from its most basic operations to the entire infrastructure. It can also affect the products it sells, how they are sold and the channels they are marketed through.

Digital transformation is an ongoing process. As technologies rapidly change and new platforms spring-up, it’s important to know whether they are suitable for your organisation and if they’ll help you succeed in the future.

For more information, visit our collection of digital transformation resources.


‘Disruptive innovation’ means to transform an expensive, complicated product used by a small minority, by making it more affordable and accessible, and therefore creating a brand new market.


This is just what we call selling goods and services online. Easy one that.

eCommerce platform

A software program or application that lets businesses sell online. Features of eCommerce platforms vary but they generally include product information, customer account management, shopping cart and checkout processes, product search capabilities and order management.

Experiential marketing

The premise of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience that may just be a one-off. 

Email Marketing

Email can be used in a number of ways when a company communicates with a consumer. Fundamentally any commercial message sent to a recipient from a company can be considered email marketing. 

There are many forms of email marketing: an automatic customer service email informing a customer their ordered item has been despatched. A retargeted emailtriggered when a customer abandons an ecommerce store reminding them they still have items in their basket.

There are also emails designed for retention purposes. Keeping consumers interested in a company that they’re either already aware of, have purchased goods from or used its service. These can arrive in the form of newsletters or round-ups of your excellent blog-posts.


The process of completing and delivering purchased products or services to the customer.
E.g. “Every online seller has to consider the most cost-effective method for fulfilment.”

Growth hacking

Growth hacking is the practice of companies with limited budgets using non-traditional and innovative methods of obtaining exposure and therefore generating growth.

Inbound marketing

Any marketing activity that attracts the attention of new visitors or customers to a company, through promotion on any online and offline channels (social media, TV, print, display ads) using any kind of content (blog post, video, whitepaper).


A complete list of a seller’s current stock.

Link building

Google treats a link from another website to your site as a vote of confidence. Google will therefore rank you higher based on that vote. Therefore the more good quality links the better. 

Not all links are born equal though. One link from a high authority site is much better than many links from a bunch of low authority sites.


  • Multichannel marketing is the ability to communicate with your audience and potential customers on various platforms and channels. This can be via email, Twitter, television, print ads, etc.
  • Multichannel customer service provides customers with options for communicating with a brand across a variety of two-way channels. This can be via email, social live chat, telephone, online form, etc.

The best multichannel experience is seamless. This means that no matter what channel a customer chooses to communicate with a brand the response (in terms of speed, tone of voice and outcome) should be the same.

A good ecommerce example of this is being able to return goods bought online to the same store’s high street branch.


The placement and display of products to entice a customer to make a purchase. Examples include ‘featured item’ lists, specific product promotions, and recommendations of top sellers or related products.

Merchant account

An account a retailer holds with an institution such as a bank or payment gateway provider. The account is defined by a contractual agreement that allows the seller to accept credit cards or other common types of payment on an eCommerce website.

Order confirmation

The final step of the checkout process, where a customer is informed that their order has been placed successfully. This message is usually delivered on screen and by email.

Paid search

Paid search is the term we use for advertising within the listings of a search engine. 

When a user searches for a particular word or phrase, the results will appear as a list on a search engine results page (SERP), these results will generally be a mixture of naturally occurring links (organic) and paid-for ads. 

The adverts normally appear at the top of a SERP or to the side, and increasingly look more and more like organic results. At the moment Google places a small yellow ‘Ad’ label on them.

Packing slip

A document that is usually included in a shipped package that describes the contents. Packing slips do not include financial or account information.

Path to purchase

The path a prospect follows that leads to a sale.

Payment gateway

A service provider that authorises online payments.
E.g. “Payment gateways allow customers to make purchases with bank or credit cards with the simple push of a button.”

PCI Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard: This is a set of requirements every company that processes, stores or transmits credit card information must meet (i.e. every online merchant).

Privacy policy

A statement that explains what customer information an online retailer will collect and how the retailer might use that information,
E.g. “Our company’s privacy policy reassures customers that we only collect minimal information and we never sell email addresses to third parties.”

Product feed

A file that contains a list of product inventory and product details. This file can be made available to other services in order to promote the products contained in the feed. E.g. “We uploaded our company’s product feed into a search engine’s merchant database so our products would show up when they match a search.”

Pay-per-click (PPC)

PPC is tied in to paid search (see above). If you want your advert to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) for a particular search term, then you will have to bid against other marketers for the same phrase. PPC is how much you’re willing to pay the ad network every time a searcher clicks on your ad. The more you pay per click the more likely your ad will appear in the search results. 

Programmatic buying

Programmatic quite simply means automatic. Programmatic buying refers to any ad space bought automatically on a web page, through either bidding for the space or buying it directly so it’s guaranteed to be yours.  There are two types of programmatic buying…

  • Programmatic RTB: RTB stands for real-time-bidding, this is an automatic process that occurs when a webpage with available ad-space loads. This ad-space is auctioned off in ‘real-time’ (milliseconds in fact) and the winning ad appears on the webpage when it has finished loading.
  • Programmatic direct: this is also known as ‘automated guaranteed’, ‘programmatic guaranteed’, and ‘programmatic premium’. These all mean the same thing, so don’t worry about the jargon. Basically, this is an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction. 


Product recommendation engine

Software that suggests specific products to customers on a website, based on available information. E.g. “The product recommendation engine on our bespoke furniture site suggests matching chairs for every table and desk.”


Retargeting is a method by which ecommerce marketers can ‘re-attract’ previous visitors who perhaps abandoned a shopping basket, or who browsed some product pages but then left the site for elsewhere.

It’s a fairly straightforward, cookie-based practice. An invisible JavaScript tag is placed in the footer of a website which leaves a ‘cookie’ in their browser of every visitor. That visitor will then be targeted with theoretically relevant adverts when they visit other sites.


Encouraging your customers to come back for more. There are many different skills and values you need to engender in order to improve customer retention, most of them around building trust, loyalty, reliability and relevance.


The process of creating a customer account with an online retailer. The account holds personal information such as name, billing and shipping address, and payment details.

Return policy

A statement that explains when, how and under what conditions a customer may return products purchased from the retailer. E.g. “Our return policy, linked at the bottom of our website, explains that bespoke furniture cannot be refunded unless faulty.”

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing involves increasing the visibility of websites on search engine results pages (SERPs) by either using search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, which help your website appear higher in the results, or by using a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, which displays adverts on the SERP based on the users search terms. This is also known as paid search.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimising your website and its content so that it can easily be indexed by search engines. 

Using this indexed information about your website, search engines can provide searchers with the most relevant results based on their search terms. These listings are known as organic search results and often appear below any paid search listings.

There are many different areas within SEO where skills are required. Please click on the relevant links to read more information:

Single customer view (SCV)

single customer view provides businesses with the ability to track customers and their communications across every channel.

The obvious benefits of this include much improved customer service levels, better customer retention, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improved overall customer lifetime value (CLV). 

Organisationally this will also lead to better communication between traditionally separate teams and a more cooperative approach to customer service.

Social media

Social media is the general term for all the platforms on which users can create personal profiles and interact with other users over a network. The most popular networks are the ones you’ll no doubt have already heard of. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Success on social media for brands relies on them not just broadcasting their marketing messages. It instead relies on engaging their followers in real, personalised conversations. Replying to customer complaints and queries. Providing well made content that is either entertaining, informative or helpful. Sharing content made by users and ultimately building a community that encourages loyalty.

SSL certificate

An SSL certificate is a file that is installed on a web server to encrypt sensitive information that is being transmitted – for example credit card details entered on a website. It also assures customers that a site is using a trusted and secure connection. Retailers can purchase an SSL certificate through a certificate authority.


The sending of purchased products to a consumer. Shipping may also refer to the additional fees charged by the retailer to cover the cost of delivery. E.g. “During the checkout process, shipping is calculated based on the total weight of the furniture being purchased.”

Shopping cart

The functionality of an online store that lets visitors add multiple products to a single order. E.g. “Having a shopping cart on your site is essential to allow users to browse and buy multiple items.”

Stock keeping unit (SKU)

A unique identifier given to individual products to track inventory and differentiate between items for sale. E.g. “Using SKUs has helped our business keep track of what stock we have in what location, so we can optimize inventory management.”


In eCommerce, this refers to the total taxes that must be collected per local laws and policies as part of an online order.

Transactional email

An automated email message that is sent in response to a specific event or transaction.


Are there any others you think we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

This article was originally published on iweb.co.uk/blog

Other article link






No Comments

Post A Comment