March 21, 2023
The Future of Ecommerce Data
The current go-to tool for ecommerce businesses is being phased out and replaced. We explore how the latest version of Google Analytics (GA4) enables for a more comprehensive view of the customer journey to benefit ecommerce businesses.
As an ecommerce business, you’ll regularly be poring over data to inform your marketing campaigns and wider business strategy. Web analytics data in particular is vital, so you have a clear idea of how people are engaging with your brand online.
But Universal Analytics, which may be your go-to tool to get insights on how your website is performing, is being phased out and will disappear for good this summer.
It’s being replaced with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) tool, which takes a completely different approach to data gathering, so you can take a much deeper dive into the customer journey.
So what does the upcoming removal of Universal Analytics and the introduction of GA4 mean for you and your ecommerce business?
What impact will it have on the data you collect, how you engage with your target market, and how you operate in the future?
Well, we’re here to answer the key questions and let you know how we can help.
What is GA4?
Google is to remove Universal Analytics from service on July 1st 2023, and it’s being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
There are several key differences between the two, notably:
- It’s based on a different concept. Whereas Universal Analytics generates data based on page views, GA4 is based on the concept of events, which includes page views but also metrics such as clicks and form submissions.
- GA4 lets you track analytics on applications as well as websites, thereby giving you a more detailed picture of the customer journey.
- GA4 makes use of artificial intelligence technology and machine learning algorithms. That gives you the ability to carry out more detailed, evidence-based forecasts than ever before, on everything from average churn rates to revenue predictions.
- Ultimately, GA4 means your business can collect more detailed information and data than you could previously, and get an unprecedented insight into how customers are engaging with your website and app.
- That, in turn, could fundamentally influence key decisions regarding your business strategy and how you market your brand.
Why has Google introduced GA4?
Universal Analytics has been in use for many years, so you might be wondering why Google is making this change.
The tech giant believes the existing tool hasn’t kept pace with significant changes in consumer behaviour, as well as privacy-driven changes to long-standing industry standards, notably the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In a post announcing the new tool, Google cited a study from Forrester Consulting, which revealed that marketers believe existing solutions make it hard to get a complete view of the customer and gain insights from the data.
The company hopes this new tool will therefore make a meaningful difference to brands, at a time when they consider improving their use of analytics to be a top priority.
How will GA4 be important for ecommerce businesses?
GA4 has been designed with ecommerce businesses specifically in mind, and therefore includes tools to more accurately measure shopping behaviour and how users are interacting with your digital platforms, such as your website, social media platforms and apps.
Whereas the previous tools generated insights based on individual sessions and page views, GA4 allows you to observe how users interact with your brand across different devices and time-periods, including in real-time.
So if, for instance, you find that people are often browsing your online store more than once but don’t ultimately make a purchase, or abandoning the transaction near the end, you can take a closer look at what’s driving this decision. Is it the site user experience? The time it takes a page to load? By identifying issues in this way and addressing them, you can offer a better site experience to users, potentially drive more conversions, and create a far more accurate and comprehensive picture of the customer journey.
Another advantage of GA4 is that it’s far more customisable than its predecessor. Every business will be different and have their own unique priorities and goals, so you can tailor the tool to track the metrics you want to measure and produce bespoke reports.
This can include metrics linked to specific items in your online store, such as their name or product ID, transaction and revenue-specific events – for example, items added to cart, checked out and data on average purchase revenue and average revenue per user. This gives you the ability to monitor and drill down into the information you want quickly and easily.
GA4 also boasts a far more intuitive search function, so you can ask it simple questions and get answers via a dropdown menu – similar to if you were using the main Google search engine. So if you have a specific query, such as how many people who visited your website didn’t check out, you can just ask the tool to show you the answer with the relevant data.
In addition, GA4 makes use of machine learning technology, using historical data to forecast what might happen in the future. That means you could, for instance, make revenue forecasts or predict people’s purchase activity in the future.
Ultimately, you’ll get more detailed and accurate insights into the ecommerce experience you offer than ever before, see where your store is performing strongly and identify barriers and shortcomings that are stopping people from converting into paid or repeat customers.
How will GA4 affect my Google Ads data?
Marketers have long been frustrated by Google Ads and Google Analytics being separate tools, particularly as there were apparent discrepancies between the data each tool was producing.
However, GA4 takes the long-overdue step of integrating the two platforms, so you’ll have more accurate data at your disposal and spend less time obtaining the information you want to see.
As an ecommerce business, you’ll be promoting your brand across countless platforms, from paid search and social media to email and influencer marketing campaigns.
But it’s often been difficult for businesses to track what’s driving organic traffic. By having more detailed insights into the customer journey, across different sessions, platforms and devices, you will have a much clearer picture of where people are coming from and what ads are generating the best returns.
Why should your business migrate to GA4?
The first key point to make is that Universal Analytics is being retired at the start of July, so if you wish to continue using Google to get valuable insights into your online performance, you’ll have to make the transition anyway.
But we would strongly recommend that you don’t wait until July and use the next few months to get to grips with this new tool.
This is partly because you can’t migrate data from Universal Analytics to GA4, which means you’ll only be able to compare data against the figures for previous years after you’ve been using GA4 for at least 12 months.
You could therefore use this time to get a headstart on accruing new data in GA4, and of course, you can continue using Universal Analytics to access historical data until the transition is complete.
Another reason to get started on GA4 sooner rather than later is because it has the ability to learn and continually improve. That means the earlier you start using GA4, the greater its potential for your business will be.
This new tool represents a significant step forward from Universal Analytics, boasting greater accuracy and flexibility than its predecessor, and better insights into the journey a customer goes on as they engage with your brand.
These insights can be crucial as you’re developing or refining your business plan and marketing strategy, so why delay?
Of course, getting used to a new web analytics tool can be time-consuming, particularly when it uses a different approach and methodology to what you’re used to, which in turn changes how you use the data the tool generates.
Thankfully, Cloud Seller Pro is available to help you with the migration. Get in touch and we can audit your current GA implementation and identify what steps you need to take to ensure data success.
Be sure to ask about our latest data visualisation capabilities that leverage the power of Google Looker Studio (previously known as Google Data Studio) which incorporates data feeds from Google Ads, Shopify and WooCommerce integrations into customisable dashboards that provides valuable insight to help you to make data-driven decisions.