Average order value (AOV) is an eCommerce metric that tracks the average total of every order placed on a website or application within a certain time frame.
Business owners can use average order value to inform their pricing and marketing strategies. Brands that want to meet specific revenue goals can use AOV as a baseline metric to measure performance — e.g., increasing a starting AOV of $25 by 5% (resulting in an AOV of $26.25). Monitoring average order value can also help owners spot trends in customer behavior.
In addition, keeping an eye on AOV over time can help owners understand whether upselling and cross-selling efforts have been effective. If such efforts have been successful, the average order value will typically increase.
Calculating the average order value is a straightforward process. First, you must decide what time frame you want to reference in your data. This could be a week, a month, a quarter, a year, etc.
Next, use this formula to calculate your AOV for that time frame:
Average order value = Total amount of revenue from sales ÷ total number of orders placed
Imagine that Company X sells clothing online. During April, they process 500 orders and make $3,500 in sales from those orders. Therefore, for April, their average order value would be $7.
Products with high price points (including luxury items) will usually result in a high average order value. Conversely, lower-priced items will result in a low average order value.
If a brand offers both high-priced and low-priced products, the majority of customers may purchase the low-priced products. However, even a few high-value orders will skew the brand's AOV higher.
Offering promotions and special discounts may increase the total number of orders within a certain time frame. However, it may also decrease the individual value of each order. In some cases, promotions may result in a lower AOV but higher overall sales.
Customers who make large orders that include multiple items will increase a company's average order value. If such large orders are irregular, it may be helpful for business owners to calculate AOV both with and without them, to gain a more accurate representation of their typical sales revenue.
For example, if an eCommerce store processes 200 orders in a week and makes $8,500, its AOV is $42.50. However, if one customer made an order that totaled $600, the store owner may choose to remove that order from his or her calculations. In that case, the AOV would come to $39.70 ($7,900 ÷ 199).
Customer lifetime value (CLTV) measures the revenue generated from one customer through their commitment to the company (or "lifetime").
Average order value and customer lifetime value could be considered "two sides of the same coin." If your average CLTV is high, then current customers will be more likely to do repeat business with your brand and may spend more on their purchases over time (thus raising your AOV).
High shipping and handling costs may discourage customers from making larger purchases, thus reducing the brand's AOV. In contrast, offering free or reduced-cost shipping — perhaps once an order reaches a certain dollar amount threshold — may encourage larger purchases, thus raising the company's average order value.
Customers from different demographics will often engage in different buying behavior. For example, older consumers may be more likely to make larger purchases; while younger consumers may be more price-sensitive. The makeup of a brand's core audience will play a large role in determining its average order value for any given time frame.
Note: Other metrics can be used in conjunction with average order value to gain a clearer picture of customer behavior. For example, business owners can also examine modal order value (MOV), or the most frequently occurring order value. To illustrate: imagine that a brand's AOV is $20 but it's MOV is $15. Instead of increasing AOV in general, the owner may decide to focus on upselling the $15 orders in particular, since those are the biggest revenue drivers for the business.
Many brands see an upsurge in sales (and average order size) around holidays and special events. Online shoppers often have stronger intent to buy and may be more willing to bundle their purchases in large orders to save on individual items. For example, an eCommerce store that offers 20% off selected items and free shipping for orders of $50 or more may attract more customers during peak season.
Brands that personalize the shopping experience and target specific demographics with their marketing may enjoy a higher AOV. For example, customers may be more willing to make large purchases based on personalized recommendations.
Customers that are loyal to and trust a brand will be more likely to purchase from the company, perhaps regularly. They will also be more likely to consider making a large purchase from the brand.