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Making the most of your e-commerce check
BYmarketing  |  01/08/2019

For websites which implement e-commerce, it is useful if you can make sure everything is in the right place and properly functioning. But exactly how do you do this?

How useful are e-commerce reports?

The most logical reason to implement e-commerce is to track what is being sold through your site. An e-commerce report will give you insight into your top-selling products and product categories, the checkout process and the revenue generated on your commercial website.

A well-designed e-commerce funnel provides plenty of insights that can be used to improve your site and ultimately achieve a higher rate of transactions. Even if you do not offer the opportunity to buy on your site, it is still a worthwhile step to set it up for e-commerce. After all, it will make the funnel visible meaning that even if a visitor does not pay directly, their e-commerce data can still be of use. Think of a checkout where the final conversion is a request for a demo or when a visitor asks for a quote after working their way through a funnel. In order to be able to get good insights from the data, you will need to set up your e-commerce funnel correctly.

Enhanced e-commerce and standard e-commerce layouts

What is the difference between an enhanced and standard e-commerce layout? Basically, you will gather much more data with the enhanced form. The data gathered in this way is also much more detailed.

Some of the benefits of enhanced e-commerce are:

1. Insight into the entire checkout process (not just transactions)

2. Product views become visible

3. Product list performance, product clicks, add to carts are made visible

4. More product information is available, such as each product category

Once you have integrated enhanced or even standard e-commerce into your website, there are a number of checks that can be made to increase your online transactions.

One:  transaction ID

You will find your sales performance report in your analytics software where all transaction IDs are listed. To get the most out of your e-commerce setup all transaction IDs must be unique. No duplicate transaction IDs should be included in your data because every transaction in your back-end is also unique. You can check to see if your transaction IDs are unique by going to the sales performance report and clicking on a single transaction ID.

When you select a single ID you can see its data along with a graph that clearly shows on which day the transaction was made. You should see a single peak on a single day. If you see multiple peaks on different days, then this indicated that your (enhanced) e-commerce has not been properly set up.

Two: data layer

Another check involves viewing the data layers. A data layer is a data structure which you forward to a linked system such as Google Analytics or read using Google Tag Manager. You can check the quality of your data layers by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Are the data layers properly filled in?

2. Do they show the right price for every product?

3. Has a product category been added? (enhanced e-commerce)

4. Is the name of the product correct?

5. Is there a numerical or alphanumerical product identifier?

Data layer information is sent to Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager (GTM). For this you will need to enable e-commerce data layer reading by checking the box. This is possible when you send a page view but can also be done during an e-commerce event.

Once enabled, GTM knows it must take the data layer data and send it to Google Analytics. The moment you enable this, either during a page view or e-commerce event, you can check to make sure this data is being sent to Analytics with a range of Chrome extensions such as Datalayer Checker. You will be able to see if there are any discrepancies in product, brand, dimensions, name and ID, for example.

You can, of course, use GTM to see if the Data layer has been properly filled in. To do this, put GTM in preview mode and refresh your website. On the left you will see a named event appear. Click on it, and then click on data layer. The data layer triggered at that particular event will appear.

Three: Google Analytics

You can also check to make sure your data arrives intact via Google Analytics. This is possible in a specific report, but also from within the view settings.

Simple go to view, then settings, then e-commerce settings. You will be able to see whether e-commerce is enabled. Distinction is made between e-commerce and enhanced e-commerce. If you have also set up enhanced e-commerce, the checkout funnel steps must be completed:

The funnel is often the shopping basket itself and is often forgotten as a checkout step; however, the shopping cart is where the checkout for the visitor begins. He or she is inclined to buy the product and begins that journey at the shopping cart. Once you have enabled this step and can see whether checkout steps have been completed correctly, you can start looking at the reports themselves.

Event reports

An event is usually sent to Analytics whenever a data layer is forwarded. This is not a mandatory requirement but a good means of control. If you then suspect a problem in the data layers all you need to do is check the event report. This will show any promotions that have been sent listed under the relevant e-commerce category. All of these should be part of your (enhanced) e-commerce process. If you miss a step here, you either have not set up an event or something is at fault with the data layer.

Enhanced e-commerce reports

Google Analytics has two different menus for enhanced and standard e-commerce reports.

These reports provide additional information concerning your webshop allowing you to check whether your e-commerce has been correctly set up. As expected, the enhanced reports contain significantly more data as enhanced mode also collects more information.

One e-commerce feature in the Checkout Behaviour report shows all the steps of the checkout funnel, from shopping basket to transaction. However, you will be required to name these steps in the display settings first. You will then be able view all of this information.

A further feature is the transactions report or sales performance report when using enhanced e-commerce. It is here where you will find all transaction IDs and can therefore carry out your unique transaction ID check as well as see whether listed revenues are correct.

Easy e-commerce analytics

Getting to grips with any type of analytics requires training and smaller businesses may need to outsource. Many professional web design and marketing agencies will take on this role as part of an agreed package. While collecting data is a simple process, translating this data into helpful and useful information is not always as easy. However, once the basics have been learnt, the above tips will enable analytics beginners to see where the faults in e-commerce funnels lie and recognise areas which block the funnel flow from cart to transaction.