Ecommerce Glossary Terms & Industry Lingo

Ecommerce Glossary Terms & Industry Lingo

In the ever changing landscape of ecommerce website design and development, every once in awhile it’s good to step back and make sense of all the terms out there in one place.

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2-factor Authentication (a.k.a. 2FA)

A method of confirming a user’s identity by utilizing a combination of two different components only the user would have access to. An example is requiring a user to enter both a memorized password and a one-time generated code (using a smartphone app) to access their personal information on a website.

301 Redirect
Used to automatically direct a user from one URL to another. 301 redirects are commonly used when the URL of a page within a website has changed but users may still type in the old address, or have it bookmarked. A 301 redirect would take these users to the new page address instead of displaying a ‘page not found’ (404) page.

404 Error (a.k.a. Page Not Found)
A 404 error is displayed when someone visits a website page URL that does not exist. This page normally tells the user that the page they are looking for cannot be found.


A/B Testing (a.k.a. Split testing)
A method of comparative testing where users are presented with two different versions of something to understand which they prefer, and therefore which version performs better.

Affiliate Marketing
A method of earning commission by promoting another person’s (or company’s) products whereby the promoter receives a portion of the sales profit.

The term given to the design and development of a website user interface or content for people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these. The current standard for web content accessibility is WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0)

An opt-in service where groups and/or individuals can access and update personal information, payment information, account settings, etc.

A method of online advertising where given search keywords are utilized to display relevant advertisements in order to boost website traffic.

AJAX (a.k.a Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)
A group of web technologies working together to exchange data asynchronously between the user’s browser and website server. AJAX allows actions to happen on a website, such as updating an ecommerce shopping cart, without the browser needing to reload each time.

A way of gathering information about how users access and interact with an individual or company website, video, application and social media site. This intelligence provides data to help make informed marketing and business decisions.

API (Application program interface)
APIs are used to specify how software components interact with one another. It sets the routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications.

Attribution Model
A process of identifying, and assigning value to, a set of user actions that work towards a desired outcome, such as creating a website account or purchasing a product.

A function of specifying access or usage rights of users. This can be editing website content, allowing the purchase of a product, accessing specific content, etc.


Back End
An administrator interface that is not public accessible. Common content management software, such as Drupal, has an administrative back end where content is created and the website components are managed.

Backlink (a.k.a. Inbound Link)
A link from a web page linking to your own web page. This is used in part by search engines to determine the popularity or quality of a website.

The rate of data transfer, measured in bits per second, through a network. Higher network traffic results in a higher bandwidth usage.

Billing Address
The address associated with a method of payment, such as a credit card, to verify payment information.

A website used to post ongoing information on any topic, but usually focused into specific ideas or themes. Blog posts typically allow for an ongoing discussion through the use of comments.

Bounce Rate
A website bounce is when a visitor leaves a website without clicking on any other link or page within the website. The bounce rate is the percentage of the website visitors to do this within a given amount of time.

The navigational path used to get to your current page. Breadcrumbs typically follow the website's main navigational structure, starting from the homepage, and could include the date (if the website is a blog or other news source).

Software used to view a website. The more common browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

Browser Compatibility
The ability of a website or web-based application to look and function correctly on the various browsers available in the market.


Cache, or Caching, is the storing of common or duplicate website data so that future requests for that data doesn’t need to be loaded, resulting is a faster loading webpage.

Captchas are commonly used when submitting website forms by providing a way to prove that the user is human. This limits incoming spam emails from automated (bot) sources.

A term used in ecommerce to identify a list of items, or products, selected by the user to purchase. Viewing a cart normally allows the user to update item quantity, remove items, and view the order dollar value.

Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment refers to when a user has placed items, or products, in their cart, but then leaves the website before completing the purchase.

A high level grouping of data used to organize content. A category can be a type of something, like Electronics in the case of a store. They are also commonly based on an idea or date, for informational websites and blogs.

The term used in ecommerce to identify the process of completing a purchase from an online store.

The term used for when a credit card provider demands a retailer make good on the loss of a disputed or fraudulent transaction.

Refers to a website script that runs in a viewer’s browser, as opposed to running on the website server (server-side).

CMS (Content Management System)
A platform or backend tool used to manage website content. A CMS is used so that website users with limited technical knowledge are still able to add, edit and remove content from the website. Some common content management systems are Drupal, Wordpress and Jooma.

User generated dialogue adding to a specific content post, product, or other content. Comments are typically found on blogs and ecommerce product pages and encourage user discussion and reviews.

A conversion is when a user takes a desired action. This could be viewing a promotion, buying a product, sharing content, etc.

Conversion Funnel (a.k.a Sales Funnel)
A conversion funnel is a pre-planned method or strategy for leading users to take a desired action.

Conversion Rate
The percentage of website users who perform the desired action.

A small piece of data from a website that is stored in the user’s browser. Cookies save specific information, such as passwords, location data, credit card information, items in cart, etc.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS defines the layout, look and feel of a website, and works in conjunction with HTML and JavaScript. CSS adds visual properties to website elements to determine size, positioning, layering, colours, fonts, and more.

CTA (Call to action)
A call to action is a website design element meant to draw the user’s attention to try and achieve a desired action. Call to actions are normally part of an advertisement or conversion funnel.


A collection of information organized in a way that is easy to access, store, modify, and manage. Databases hold the user generated information of a website, such as content, products, comments, etc.

A person engaged in the development of the World Wide Web. This could be anything from programming software to writing content. In the web industry however, a developer is generally thought of as a person who can program.

Digital Goods
The term given to downloadable digital products, such music, ebooks, videos, software, etc.

Discount Code (a.k.a. Coupon Code)
A code used typically during checkout to apply a promotion, usually a discount, to an order.

A creative person who develops the visual aspects, look and feel, of a website. Designers are usually well versed in image manipulation, understand the psychological effects of colour and layout, and often have a good knowledge of modern usability standards and best practices.

DNS (a.k.a. Domain Name Service, Domain Name Server)
DNS servers convert IP addresses into domain names. It is the connection between the domain name and the website files stored on a server.

The unique name and extension used to identify a website (I.e.

A retail practice where orders are taken in by a retailer and the shipping and handling is fulfilled separately by the product manufacturer or wholesaler. The retailer does not keep any inventory on hand and is only facilitating the purchase.

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Drupal Commerce
A robust extension of Drupal used to create ecommerce stores and applications of all sizes. Learn more at!


The term used to describe online trading of products or services. Electronic commerce.

Email marketing
The use of email to directly market commercial products or messages to groups of people. This includes the sending of newsletter and promotions to current or potential customers.


A small, graphical icon shown in the website browser address bar, tabs, bookmarks, etc.

A way to allow users to focus in on a specific type of content, or property of the content. Filters are commonly used in online stores to narrow down a large number of products to what the user is looking for specifically.

The fold represents the point of a website where the user must scroll down to view additional content. Below the fold would be anything that is not seen in the browser initially. The idea of ‘the Fold’ was once quite important, but since websites are now viewed on so many different screen sizes it is less important than it once was.

Font Family
The designation of fonts, or typefaces, used in the website CSS documents. The font family normally defines a specific font to use, a web-safe fallback font (used when a user's browser doesn’t accept the first font), and a final categorical fallback – “serif” or “sans-serif”.

The bottom of the website containing information common to most, if not all, pages in the website. The footer usually contains secondary links and website copyright information.

Framework (a.k.a. Platform)
A framework provides a solid code base with a full set of common elements which work on all browsers and devices.  Using a framework saves time by allowing the front end developer to focus on customizing the look and functionality of the website from a solid, supported base, instead of starting from scratch every time.

Front End
The website front end is the public face of a website that the user sees and interacts with. It is also commonly known as the website user interface.

Fulfillment is the process of receiving, packaging and shipping orders through and ecommerce website.


Graceful Degradation
A term referring to a website’s ability to use features present in new browsers but also have code to fall back on for when a user visits the site with an older browser.

GIT is an open source distributed version control system. It is widely used in software and web development industry as a way of collaborating on projects and maintaining a change history during development.


Like the footer, the header of the website contains information common to most, if not all, pages of the website. Common elements found in a header are logos, primary navigation, cart information, and a site search.

Hexadecimal (a.k.a. Hex value, Hex code)
A 6 digit system used to define RGB colours online, consisting of numerals 0-9 and letters A-F. The first two digits represent the red hue, the second two represent the green hue, and the third two represent the blue hue.

The homepage is the first page website visitors usually see when they go to your site. Because of this, the homepage usually receives extra focus and attention to make sure visitors are directed to the products or information they seek.

Hosting gives you a place to store your website files and databases so that it can be accessed over the internet.

A file placed at the root of the website which holds specific instructions for an Apache server to access. This file holds instructions for basic redirect functionality (301 and 404) as well as more advanced functionality such as IP blocking, password protection and more.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
HTML is the standard language used to create web pages. It provides the structure of a page and is then styled with CSS.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
HTTP is the protocol used for data communication for the World Wide Web. Nodes of structured hypertext (a web page) are connected together using hyperlinks (links connecting one web page to another).

Similar to HTTP, except the data communication is over a secure, encrypted connection.

A link within a web page used to connect one page to another.


Infinite Scroll
A method of displaying information by continuously loading new content as the user scrolls down the page. This is typically used in large, data driven news websites or when loading products in an ecommerce website.

Inline Editing
A content editing method where the user edits content directly on the front end web page they are viewing, as if they were editing a text document. This is as opposed to loading a separate backend editing screen where the saved changes are then reflected in the frontend content.

A list of products and items in an ecommerce website, often including properties and stock levels for each item.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)
An IP address is a unique, numerical address given to each device connected in a computer network. It is used to identify and determine the location of the device in the network. A device could be a computer, printer, phone, etc.


The most widely used JavaScript library. It provides a simplified API used for the manipulation, event handling and animation of HTML documents within web browsers.

JS (JavaScript)
JavaScript is a client-side computer programing language used to create interactive effects within web browsers.


Landing Page (a.k.a. Lander)
A marketing based web page with a specific purpose. An advertisement may direct a visitor to a specific web page (the landing page) where the purpose of the advertisement is then carried out, whether it’s to sell a product, give information, gather information, or direct the user elsewhere.

A collection of resources (source code, data, scripts, templates, fonts, etc.) used to develop or interact with software.

Lorem Ipsum
The filler text, or dummy text, commonly used as a placeholder in a document, design, or visual presentation. “Lorem ipsum” derives from Latin “dolorem ipsum, and translates as “pain itself”.


Media Queries (a.k.a. Breakpoint)
Mainly used in responsive website development, media queries are used to specify CSS properties at certain device increments, usually based on pixel width. Media queries let elements in a website appear differently, using CSS, at mobile, tablet, desktop and beyond.

A business person selling or trading commodities to earn a profit.

Metadata is data used to describe other data. Metadata on the web is typically used to describe a web page and is used by search engines.

A group of website links used to navigate through a website.

In Drupal terms, a module is a collection of pre-built code and data used to extend the functionality of Drupal. Modules can be installed to add new things such as fields, image galleries, analytics tracking codes, etc.


An email sent by a group or business to a list of subscribers. Newsletters are typically used as a way to directly market information or promotion to a large group of potentially interested people.


Open source
In software terms, open source refers to software that can be freely used, studied, modified and shared by anyone, for any purpose.

Open rate
Open rate refers to the percentage of newsletter recipients who have opened a newsletter. This number is typically difficult to correctly obtain because there are limitations on what data can be sent back to the original sender.

Organic search
The search resulting from a user directly entering a query into a search engine.


Page (a.k.a. Web page)
A single page of content within a website. This could be a homepage, landing page, or any other page within the site.

The process of dividing and grouping a document or page, or multiple documents or pages. For example, a search engine query will display a list of approximately 10 results, followed by a list of additional result pages (1, 2, 3, etc.) along with previous and next links. This group of links is called pagination.

Payment Gateway
A payment gateway is service provider that authorizes payment via credit card or by some other means.

PHP (HyperText Preprocessor)
PHP is a server-side programming language used to develop websites and web applications. It allows web developers to dynamically interact with databases.

PPC (Pay-per-click)
PPC describes a form of online advertising whereby the advertiser only pays for an advertisement once it has been clicked. The advertisement is displayed at no cost to the advertiser.

Point of Sale (a.k.a. P.O.S.)
The point of sale is the time and place where a retail transaction is completed.

A product is an item that is for sale. This could be a physical item, such as a shirt, or a digital good, such as an ebook.


Quick View
Quick view is the term given to a method of displaying product information quickly, without actually visiting the product page. A typical quick view would appear when a user hovers their mouse cursor over a product, and would then appear with additional information about that product.


A term given to the process of capturing user information in order to create an account.

A website or web application that is responsive has been built to automatically rearrange to fit any device or screen that it is being displayed on, including phone, tablet and desktop monitor.

Rich Media
An online term for an advertisement or call-to-action that makes use of graphical imagery, streaming video, and/or animation. Rich media is usually interactive and prompts the user to perform an action.

RSS (a.k.a. Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication)
RSS is a format for providing regularly changing web content, such as a blog or news feed. RSS feed reader or aggregator software collects these feeds from various sources for the user to read and use.


A script is a small program created to run one or more tasks that could alternatively be completed one-by-one by a human operator.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to maximize its recognition by search engines.

A server is a computer dedicated to storing files. Web servers contain server-side software which serve the files of a website when requested by client-side software, such as a web browser.

Server-side refers to programs and software operations that are performed on a server, as opposed to client-side which is on the end user's computer or device.

A term typically given to the act of sharing website elements or information with other people, via email, message or social media channels.

Shipping Address
The address where physical products or items will be shipped once a transaction has been completed.

Site search
A search tool for finding content within a single website. Site search is often restricted to specific types of content.

Social Media
A term given to social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc.

SKU (Stock-keeping Unit)
A unique product or service identification code used to track stock inventory levels.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
A standard security technology used to establish a private, encrypted link when transferring data between a web server and browser.

Standards (specifically web standards) are formal, non-proprietary technical specifications that provide definition and guidelines for developing the World Wide Web.


In computing, a tag can be a number of things. In a social media or website setting a tag refers the identification or categorization of content. In an analytics or information gathering setting a tag refers to a code used to identify and track an action on a website. In a programming setting a tag is a component of the HTML markup language or a method for passing parameters to subroutines.

When referring to the web, a template is a term given to a pre-built website or part of a website that can be used and/or modified to achieve a desired result.

From a contract, service or deal perspective, a person, group or organization that may be involved but not a principal party to the contract, service or deal, is a third-party. From a software perspective, any software or code not directly created by the organization or software provider(s) is considered third-party.

A term given to the gathering of data regarding how users access and interact with a website, or part of a website.

The instance of buying or selling something.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
URL is the generic term given for a website addresses. For example, the URL for our website homepage is

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a website interface.

A term given to a person, or group of people, interacting with the website, web application or web service.

User Roles
User roles are labels given to groups of users. Permissions are then given to these roles which apply to all users assigned to the role. This is a common way of providing website access control.

User Permissions
User permissions outline what a user can and cannot do or access on a website. For example, an anonymous user visiting an ecommerce website may be able to view and purchase products, but that is all. However, an user with administrative permissions would be able to add, edit, and remove products and pages on the website.

UX (a.k.a. User Experience)
A term given to the process of designing and enhancing user satisfaction when using a website, web application, etc. UX is a continuous process with the ultimate goal of removing any annoyance, difficulty or hardship the user may experience.


The act of confirming an action. Verification can be proving the user is a human rather than a robot before submitting a form, confirming a user wants to create an account or place an order, checking that an email or password was entered correctly, etc.


A saved list of products or items that the user is interested in purchasing at a later date.

WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get)
A graphical interface text editor meant to take away a users need to know how to program. WYSIWYG editors are a large part of any website content management system, used when generating content.


XML (Extensible Markup Language)
XML is a markup language that defines rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human and machine readable.

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Mike Hubbard
Contributed by

Mike Hubbard

, Frontend Developer
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