Google Analytics for eCommerce

Google Analytics for eCommerce – let's track it!

Polcode Team
5 minutes read

Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool in the world for a reason. Not only is it free and powerful, allowing you to track and analyze the characteristics and behavior of your visitors, but also has a special offer just for eCommerce businesses. Learn how you can use Google Analytics to dig deeper into your transactions and products.

A few weeks ago we published an entry analytics article that tackled the very basics of what Google Analytics is and how it can help your eCommerce business. At this point, we assume that you understand what it is as well as have the basic tracking code added to all of the pages of your website. If you don’t, please, read the previous entry article before you proceed.

Why and how should I track my eCommerce website with Google Analytics?

The previous article mentioned metrics such as “bounce rate,” “sessions” or “average session duration” that can be helpful for each website as it is always beneficial to know that certain pages cause the visitor to bounce (leave) or that a certain type of visitor (say, women aged over 50 or returning users) tend to spend more time on your website per session. This sort of information may empower you to make a decision to change the content or design of certain pages or add a whole new type of content. But these general insights do not cater to your biggest need as an eCommerce merchant – the need to sell.

With Google Analytics, you can enable dedicated eCommerce tracking to gain access to the most import metrics for your eCommerce website. You will be able to:

  • see how much revenue your products bring (including tax and shipping costs),
  • determine which products bring the most revenue,
  • determine what kind of users bring the most revenue per session,
  • find weaknesses in the checkout process of your shopping cart,
  • and much much more!

Let’s start with the setup.

How do I set up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics?

Again, we assume that your website already has the basic Google Analytics tracking code added to the head section of all the pages of your website. From now on, you should do the following:

1. Integrate your shopping cart with Google Analytics.
How you go about it may differ depending on what kind of eCommerce platform you use. In Magento, you need to enable the Google API in your admin panel and add some JavaScript code to your checkout page (you may need the help of a developer with this one).

2. Add your eCommere tracking code.
It should be added to the page that serves as the order confirmation (the one that is displayed once a transaction is completed). You also need a script (in PHP when using Magento) that will transfer your eCommerce data from the cart to your Analytics account (again, a developer is needed).

3. Enable eCommerce reporting in your Google Analytics account.
This one is easy. All you have to do is go to the “View” section in the “Admin” tab of your account and find the “E-commerce Settings” option. There, you can enable eCommerce tracking with just one click of a button.

The reason why additional scripting is necessary stems from the fact that the majority of the eCommerce tracking process takes place in your eCommerce platform. See a simplified version of the process in the picture below:

Most common eCommerce metrics

Now, that your eCommerce tracking is up and running, you will get access to many valuable metrics. Some of the most important include:

  • eCommerce transactions – the number of purchase orders placed on your website in total,
  • Unique purchases – the number of times any given product was a part of a transaction (that is, at least one unit of this product was included in the purchase order),
  • Quantity – the total number of units sold (all units that were included in all purchase orders),
  • Product SKU – the unique identifier of your product,
  • Revenue – the total revenue that includes tax and shipping costs, however, depending on your setup not all of these aspects may apply,
  • Product revenue – the total revenue from one product or one set of products,
  • Conversion rate – the percentage of sessions, during which a purchase is made.

Just a quick glance at the values show that you can easily see how much revenue you get from any given product or a product category, which category has the highest conversion rate, what products are often included as part of bigger purchases and how all of these values change periodically.

Goal conversion vs eCommerce conversion

The issue of conversion is one of the most important ones when it comes to using eCommerce tracking for Google Analytics. Due to the nature of eCommerce, an eCommerce conversion is measured in a different manner than a standard goal conversion.

Let’s say your website gives the user an opportunity to download an eBook. A conversion goal is set up to determine how many of your visitors make the decision to download the eBook. Twenty of our 120 visitors eventually downloaded it. But five of the 20 visitors downloaded it twice. Since your website doesn’t use eCommerce conversion tracking, the number of conversions is still 20. It doesn’t matter that some visitors downloaded it more than once – you can only score one conversion per user. With the eCommerce conversion, the very same situation will result in 25 conversions since each download is another purchase (to which you can assign a value, say, $5).

The eCommerce conversion better reflects the nature of your online store, where one visitor can make many purchases and for you every single one of them is equally important.

The sales funnel

The ability to set up a sales funnel is another big advantage of eCommerce tracking. The average cart abandonment rate based on over 30 studies is 68.63%. And that’s just one of many alarming statistics which show that getting the user to add items to the cart is just the first step. With a sales funnel, you can see where your visitors tend to bail out on the sales process. Now, how can you do that?

  • Map out the journey your customer needs to go through starting at the checkout to getting to the order confirmation page. For example, it may consist of four pages – one that contains order details, the next page that includes the payment setup, another with the delivery details and finally the confirmation order page.
  • Navigate to the “Admin” tab of your Google Analytics account and choose the “Goals” tab under “View.”
  • Fill in the form to create your funnel. Choose “Destination” as your goal type. Name it and add all of the URLs of the pages that comprise a customer’s journey. Of course, the destination will be the last page of the journey.
  • Since you’re setting a transactional goal, do not set the “Value” option. Otherwise, the value will mix in with the data from your eCommerce tracking and skew the results.
Google Analytics allows you to choose a template for some of the most common goals, as you can see above.

Now you can navigate to the “Funnel Visualization” report under “Conversions” in the “Reporting” part of your account. As more transactions take place, you’ll be able to see how many people enter the funnel and how many remain after each step. This way, you will know which pages make your visitors drop out. Get familiar with the typical causes of high “cart abandonment rate” and see which apply to your situation.

Enhanced eCommerce tracking

The features above are some of the most common things you can do thanks to the eCommerce tracking prowess of Google Analytics. Keep in mind that Google Analytics also allows you to use Enhanced eCommerce tracking. More difficult to set up and analyze, Enhanced eCommerce tracking provides you with details of your entire eCommerce activity, including product clicks, impressions or even refunds. If your eCommerce website is particularly large (handling thousands of transactions daily), you should also consider purchasing the paid Google Analytics Premium service. The free version resorts to data sampling when it comes to large datasets, which may influence the accuracy of your eCommerce reports.

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