This post is the first in a series of e-commerce transaction tracking with Google Analytics. Why is e-commerce tracking important? Well, transaction data is a vital piece of information when analyzing online business performance.
Sure, it’s great to measure things like conversion rate, but revenue is much more tangible to many business owners. Having the e-commerce data in your web analytics application makes it easier to perform analysis. Do you need to set up e-commerce tracking? No, but it sure helps. :)
The Big Pictures
Step by Step: How it Works
Let’s break it down and walk through what actually happens.
1. The visitor submits their transaction to your server.
2. Your server receives the transaction data and processes the transaction. This may include a number of steps at the server level, such as sending a confirmation email, checking a credit card number, etc.
4. The receipt page is sent to the visitor’s browser.
Here’s a basic diagram of the process. Again, the biggest challenge during implementation is adding code to your web server that inserts the transaction data, in the appropriate format, into the receipt page. I’ll cover the setup in part 2 of this series.
What Data can be Tracked?
Google Analytics collect two types of e-commerce data: transaction data and item data. Transaction data describes the overall transaction (transaction ID, total sale, tax, shipping, etc.) while item data describes the items purchased in the transaction (sku, description, category, etc.). All of this data eventually ends up in GA reports. Here’s a complete list of the data:
- Transaction ID: your internal transaction ID [required]
- Affiliate or store name
- State or region
- Transaction ID: same as in transaction data [required]
- Product name
- Product category or product variation
- Unit price [required]
- Quantity [required]
A few notes about the data. First, the geo-location data is no longer used by Google Analytics. The new version of GA tries to identify where the buyer is located using an IP address lookup.
Also, you should avoid using any non-alpha numeric characters in the data. Especially in the numeric fields. Do not add a currency identifier (i.e. dollar sign) in the total, tax or shipping fields. this can cause problems with the data.
Like this post? Check out the rest of the series:
Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking Pt. 2: Installation & Setup
Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking Pt. 3: Why EVERYONE Should Use It
Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking Pt. 4: Tacking Lead Gen Forms