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How Does Google Analytics Work For eCommerce Websites?

The average ecommerce website owner relies on a number of different avenues to evaluate their online store’s performance, and to determine what might be done to improve it. This could include things like reading user surveys, customer posts on social networks, and frequently asked questions, but these can only offer so much insight. The most valuable information is real user data that must be collected by specialized software. The statistics and metrics gathered by these types of software arm the ecommerce website owner with robust and actionable data. Since 2005, Google Analytics has become the most popular analytics software due to its ties to the Google search engine and Google Adwords. This, combined with the fact that it is completely free for the majority of its users has given Google Analytics a dominating market share. A paid premium version does exist for enterprise ecommerce websites.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a web analytics software and service that tracks all website traffic to your website. The data gathered can then be viewed in a number of intuitive, customizable reports. It is by far the most frequently used analytics software around, due to its robust feature set and alluring price tag (free for the majority of users). Additionally, GA isn’t just for websites; it can be used with mobile apps, digital kiosks and more.

How Does Google Analytics Work?

Simply collecting data can be valuable, but without meaningful extraction that data is just a pile of numbers. As such, this data must be analyzed and displayed in a meaningful way. Google Analytics utilizes a four step system to accomplish this feat:

1. Data Collection

The first step, of course, is to begin collecting data in real time as users navigate and interact with the website that is being tracked. After JavaScript code is placed in your website’s markup, it is able to collect and transmit information back to Google Analytics servers. Tracking of more sophisticated actions on the website, such as certain events or interactions, may require specific snippets of JavaScript to be placed within that specific element. For ecommerce websites, this data is collected in real time.

Every time a visitor arrives at your site, the JavaScript code is executed by the user’s web browser. At this point, as much information about the visitor as possible is collected, including date and time of the session, device type, operating system, screen resolution, location, etc. Some of this information may not be readily available to the JavaScript code depending on the specific settings of any given visitors browser and computer. After this initial information is collected, the code creates and stores a few cookies with some basic information about that visit on the visitors hard drive. Since Google has now required all searches be run under the https protocol, even less user information is available to the JavaScript code.

2. Data Processing

Raw data is only valuable if it is processed and displayed in a meaningful and understandable way. After data is collected by the JavaScript code, it is sent to Google’s service for data processing. This is when Google computes the data into useful metrics that can be used to evaluate site performance. Google has a number of “reports” that show different facets of the information collected, accessible within their GUI dashboard.

For an ecommerce site, one of the most important metrics available is revenue. Data processing allows you to view what search engines your revenue is being generated from, the average dollar value per transaction, etc. These are the types of meaningful metrics that are available only after the raw data is processed. It is then displayed in the Google Analytics admin, often combined with graphs and / or other visual elements to make for an even more intuitive experience.

3.Data Configuration

After your analytics data is processed, the data is manipulated to satisfy your specific settings and configuration. For example, you may have chosen to exclude your office’s IP address from the data so that your company’s use of the website does not affect your data. Once this data has been processed, it is sent to the a Google database for storing. Once this data has been processed, it cannot be altered. This is why it is important to create several different views of your website in Analytics, leaving an unfiltered view of your website’s data so that you always have the most accurate raw data, just in case you ever need to go back and look at something that your configuration may have prevented from tracking.

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Setting up custom filters allows you to exclude specific IP addresses and much more from affecting your analytical data.

4. Data Reporting

Google Analytics presents this information to its users utilizing a web interface typically accessed at This data can also be retrieved by a third party interface using Google’s Core Reporting API. For most purposes, Google’s interface is robust and intuitive enough, but some of the gigantic ecommerce sites may decide to choose a third party software that can better be customized to their exact needs. In fact, some of these companies don’t even use Google Analytics to collect the data, but use a third party service for that as well.

Google Analytics provides the ecommerce website owner with invaluable metrics and insight regarding how users are interacting with their website. From there, the webmaster is able to make informed decisions on how to best improve their ecommerce store.

A Comprehensive List of Must-Have Ecommerce Website Features

When it comes to eCommerce websites, it’s all about functionality, features, and design.

But what features are really most important for your success?

Let’s explore.

There are features you must have if you’re running an online business and have an eCommerce website. The features below are some of the standard eCommerce features for online stores and shopping cart platforms.

The success of many websites is determined by not only the products offered and how well the website is marketed, but also by the features the website offer both the customer and the website owner. As a business owner, it is important that you have the tools to manage your website and that the administrative features fit with your business processes. For example, if you offer payment terms to your customer, you’ll need to be sure the platform you’re using gives you the ability to set a credit limit for a customer. Before diving into an eCommerce project, think carefully about the features needed, or you’ll be regretting it later!

The Most Important Ecommerce Features Include:

  • Content management capabilities
  • Promotion and discount code tools
  • An easy-to-use checkout
  • Search engine optimized code and layout
  • Reporting tools
  • An integrated blog or articles section
  • Email marketing integration
  • Multiple payment options (Credit card, PayPal, PO, Terms, etc.)
  • The ability to scale up with your platform

Read all of the eCommerce features details below. For more information on our services visit our eCommerce website design page.



Catalog Management


  • Search and sort to easily find categories
  • Manage categories and sub-categories
  • Feature categories within navigation or on the homepage
  • Set categories as “active” or “inactive”
  • Set page URL’s and SEO elements for categories
  • Manage categories thumbnails and images


  • Manage brands
  • Feature brands on the homepage
  • Set brands as “active” or “inactive”
  • Set page URL’s and SEO elements for brands
  • Manage brand logos


  • Search and sort to easily find products in certain categories or with specific attributes
  • Easily manage and edit products
  • Product fields include name, SKU, product details, additional details, list price, your price, weight, stock, minimum quantity order amount,  handling fee and more.
  • Ability to select options such as featured, free shipping, reviews allowed, require moderation for reviews and more
  • Add and manage main product image and additional product images
  • Microsoft Word-like editor for managing content block, such as product details
  • Feature products on the homepage
  • Set products as “active” or “inactive”
  • Add products to a single category or multiple categories
  • Select product brand
  • Add and manage product options and option groups
  • Add and manage related products
  • Add and manage accessories
  • Attach and embed YouTube videos
  • Manage (approve and delete) product reviews
  • Set product page URL and SEO elements for products

Content Management


  • Manage content pages and create new content pages
  • Edit pages using a Microsoft Word-like content editor
  • Add images and manage uploaded image library
  • Image editing and cropping tool
  • Set page as “active” or “inactive”
  • Set page URL and SEO elements


  • Manage blog posts
  • Set blog publish date
  • Set post as “active” or “inactive”
  • Add blog summary and full blog post using Microsoft Word-like content editor
  • Add images and manage uploaded image library
  • Select blog category and author
  • Attached blog posts to product pages
  • Set post URL and SEO elements

Homepage Banners

  • Manage homepage banners
  • Set banner sort orders
  • Set banner URL or leave unlinked
  • Set banners as “active” or “inactive”


  • Manage your main navigations including header, side and footer
  • Add drop down to main navigation
  • Manage SEO elements on links such as link title
  • Set links to open in same or new window

Auto Email Messages

  • Manage main email template design
  • Set messaging for order status emails
  • Set messaging for thank you email on product reviews and blog comment submissions

Review Management

  • Manage all product reviews
  • Set reviews to “approved” or delete reviews

Comment Management

  • Manage all blog comments
  • Set comments to “approved” or delete comments 


Customer Management


  • Search and sort to easily find customers by first name and last name
  • Manage customer accounts
  • View customer details and previous orders
  • View individual customers product reviews
  • Add private comments to a customer
  • Delete customer accounts
  • Reset customer passwords
  • Export customers to Excel
  • Export customer subscribed to email newsletter to Excel (import capabilities for 3rd party email systems)

Order Management


  • Search and sort to easily find orders by specific variables
  • Manage and updated order status
  • View order number and all customer information
  • View order information and purchase details (products, tax, shipping, addresses, etc.)
  • Add private notes to the order
  • View shipping and billing address maps
  • Create and manage custom order statuses
  • Receive email when order is placed
  • Export orders to Excel


Discount & Promotion Management

Discount Codes

  • Create and manage discount codes
  • Add discount codes to categories, brand or products
  • Add discount codes that affect shipping
  • Set codes as “active” or “inactive”
  • Ability to set percentages off, amount off or a set price
  • “Auto Apply” discount codes when product added to cart option
  • Set and manage dates code is active
  • Set minimum and maximum quantity requirements for discount codes
  • Set number of times code can be used before automatically becoming inactive




  • Interactive administrative dashboard with charts and statistics
  • Ability to change dashboard statistics to reflect specific date ranges
  • Dashboard date-range reports include store sales by amount, store sales order volume, new customers vs. returning, top selling products, top selling brands, most used discount codes
  • Dashboard general reports (not based on date range) include low inventory reporting, total products in store, total categories in store, customer count, lifetime orders and lifetime revenue

Single Reports

  • Single reports, outside of the dashboard, include sales by date range, top selling product by date range, low inventory by quantity and new customer by date range.


Search Engine Optimization Management

Dynamic Titles

  • Manage all dynamic title tag structure throughout the website
  • Configure dynamic title and META tags for categories and sub-categories
  • Configure dynamic title and META tags for brand pages
  • Configure dynamic title and META tags for product pages

Specific Titles & Meta Information

  • Configure site wide default title and META tags
  • Configure homepage title and META tags
  • Set unique title, META tags and URL information for specific content pages, category, brand or product pages



Shipping Options

  • Set store static shipping rates based on weight, dollar amount and zone
  • Set specific price or percentage of order
  • Live shipping rates based on shipping address utilizing UPS, USPS and FedEx
  • Set and manage shipping discount codes and promotions
  • Set free shipping on individual products
  • Set your stores origin of shipment zip code and country code
  • Active and deactivate shipping carriers
  • Manage UPS, USPS & FedEx available shipping services (ground, first-class, express, etc.)

Payment Options

  • Active and deactivate payment types available
  • Manage account settings
  • Manage PayPal account settings
  • Allow offline payment option

Taxes & Locations

  • Manage countries available
  • Manage tax rates for each US State or Canadian province by percentage
  • Activate and deactivate countries
  • Set shipping zones per state or province

Email Configuration

  • Set email server configuration and store email address
  • Fields include server name, server port, username, password, enable SSL and store email address
  • * Email will be configured during development

Administration Users

    • Add and delete administration logins with name, email and password

Key Stats to Measure the Effectiveness of your eCommerce Website

When optimizing your website to increase conversions, establishing ways to assess the effectiveness of your efforts is just as important as putting optimization strategies in place. In a brick and mortar storefront, it is easy to gauge whether or not marketing strategies are working because you can physically count customers and observe their interaction with your store. Effective planning for ecommerce optimization requires both forward thinking and reverse thinking in order to keep your efforts worthwhile and manageable. No optimization strategy is guaranteed, so not knowing what to look for and which metrics to pay attention to when gauging your site’s success could mean wasted time and lost revenue – both of which are invaluable in the ecommerce world. To keep your efforts pointed and potent, consider keeping your eye on these 7 statistics when measuring the success of your ecommerce website.


Bottom Line Net Profit – It can be easy to think that an increase of sales and revenue is the ultimate measurement of success in business but this number can be deceiving if you don’t look at the whole picture. Instead of just relying on revenue counts, look at profit margins to gauge success. Sometimes increasing ecommerce efforts means an increase of expenses for payroll, cost of goods, outside contracting and tools for managing higher traffic and conversion volume. To attain your bottom line, make sure you are subtracting any extra expenses from your revenue to get a truer picture of your ecommerce profits.


Conversion Rate of Visitors – All websites are created with an intention, whether it is sales, lead generation or communication. However, if your site is not constructed in a way that encourages or allows visitors to complete the desired actions, then you aren’t gaining anything from having the site. To calculate your conversion rate, divide the number of visitors who performed your desired action by the total amount of visitors. If your rate is below 4%, chances are there are many different strategies that you could implement to turn visitors into customers.

Engagement of Email Subscribers – Email campaigns are great for bringing back former customers and targeting new ones with special promotions and sales. It is easy to think that your email marketing is successful when your list has thousands of email addresses, but you may be wasting your time if a majority of those leads are now stale. Use simple email campaign tracking tools to see how many leads open your email and then how many actually convert from email click-throughs. These metrics can be an indication of how effective your marketing and outreach strategies have been. You can also look at lead-list growth to gauge how well you are reaching new audience members and opt-in participants.


Cart Abandonment Rate – Trillions of dollars worth of merchandise is abandoned in shopping carts online every year. You might be getting customers to your site and engaged in pursuing your product, but if they aren’t completing the transaction then you need to do a little more work to convince them to click that last button. Don’t let the fish get away – make your checkout process simple with as few clicks as possible and make all relevant information such as pricing, shipping, delivery estimates and contact information clear and highly visible. Abandoned shopping carts also make great targets for remarketing campaigns. Send emails and friendly reminders to those that bounce out before check out to create a conversion.


Visitor Traffic – This seems like a “duh” statistic to measure when dealing with a website, but understanding your visitor statistics and the story behind those numbers can help you make better decisions when it comes to maintaining your ecommerce site. Where is your traffic coming from? If your PPC ads aren’t bringing in visitors, you might need to revisit your keywords and do some more research. If social media pages are driving in traffic then work on ways to capitalize on it even more. How long are your visitors on your site? If you find yourself with high bounce rates your site either turns off your visitors or they think they are at the wrong place when your page loads up. If you notice a trend of visitors bouncing out on a particular page then something about that page’s structure needs fixed. Pay attention to unique visitor numbers as this tells you who is a returning visitor versus new visitors with new lead potential. This metric also takes into account your shoppers who like to research a product and the market before making a purchase. If you find yourself with stagnant traffic over an extended period of time, view it as an opportunity to begin new marketing campaigns or to revisit your SEO strategies.


Average Value Per Transaction – Having a lot of transactions is fantastic for revenue numbers and conversion rates – but if all of those transactions are low value products then your net profit could suffer. Pay attention to both the number of items your average customer purchases and the average value of their cart. If your customers are “one and done” buyers, consider building in some cross-selling strategies such as product suggestions based on their selected items. If your best-selling products have low margins for profit, consider price testing to see if you can get that bottom line a little higher on products that you know sell well. Another simple way to boost average transaction value is to offer free shipping at certain price points to incentivize your customers to add more product to their carts.


Mobile Users – Everyone knows by now that more and more users access the web through mobile devices and tablets. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a mobile version of your site separate from your desktop version – trying to load your basic site onto a device is frustrating with long load times and clunky navigation. Use your mobile user data to guide the design and navigation of your mobile site. If you have a lot of customers attempting to complete actions through a mobile device you might want to consider building a stand-alone application for your site to make transactions quicker and easier for your customers.

Calling It Time For a Website Redesign

It is hard to admit that your website is ugly or isn’t performing. Your digital baby, if you will, took hours of thought and development, you labored over color choices and photos, either paid exorbitant amounts of money to a designer or slogged your way through books and webpages to do it yourself and all of it was fairly exhaustive. The thought of starting this process over again can be daunting to anyone. However, having a website that misses the mark with visitors is not only a poor decision in regards to the aesthetic quality of your site, but also is a poor decision in terms of conversion rate opportunities and overall ROI.

Signs You Need a Website Redesign:

  • Your conversion rate has dropped
  • Sales or leads are down
  • It just doesn’t look good. You’re embarrassed to show people
  • The website isn’t mobile friendly
  • You don’t have the company “look” that matches your brand
  • Your competitors are beating you in every way
  • You’re not ranking on Google
  • The website is hard to manage and has an old CMS

Deciding to go through a redesign is no easy process. However, if your site is not showing year-over-year growth then chances are that you are long overdue for an overhaul. The goal of any ecommerce website is to convert visitors into customers and if your site design and/or structure is a barrier in that, it needs fixed. Identifying the problems that hinder your site from being conducive to conversion and visitor engagement is an important step in the right direction. Much of this can be done be just deciding what isn’t working with your site and finding strategies for making it work and work well with your audience. Below are a few reasons why a redesign should become a priority for your company’s web presence and some negative effects you could face by not taking action now. If any of these statements are true about your site, consider a redesign to recapture your audience and remain relevant in today’s vast world of the internet.

Poor user experience

If users don’t like your site – they won’t use your site. Sometimes we create things thinking that they will work great but our visitors have other opinions when sites are glitchy, broken or nonsensical to them. Not all users think like a designer so they can become lost when navigation is unclear or unspoken. Sometimes the best way to identify usability problems is to ask your visitors to identify the pain points of your site and barriers between them and completing a transaction. You can get valuable quantitative information through Analytics information by looking at bounce rates and exit points, but user surveys and targeted market research can guide you in the right direction with qualitative information. Don’t invest a large amount of money on the design your site until you have spent a large amount of time investigating your customers – what they like, what they are attracted to, and what they need to be confident in making a transaction with you. If the site usability problems are a barrier to your sales or lead generation, than a site redesign can potentially not only fix your sales deficits, but also increase the value of your company as a whole.

Your site doesn’t play well with mobile traffic

If your site does not support mobile traffic you are missing out on a huge customer potential. More and more internet users access pages through a web-enabled device and if you don’t have a site version that is optimized for that experience, chances are those visitors are going to go somewhere else that allows them to browse or buy on the go. Mobile sites require different coding and frameworks so keep that in mind when scoping your site’s redesign.

Poor branding

The only thing worse than no branding is poor branding and your site plays an integral part in that. Your website and its design should reflect the personality and nature of your company while also helping it stand out from the competition. Do the colors fit well together into a scheme and are they consistent throughout all brand and marketing materials? Are your photos clear, crisp and relevant to the information they represent? Is your logo effectively displayed? Does all of the copy and textual information flow together and present a consistent voice? Is your website fun? A website that does not support your brand will not be effective in turning visitors on to what you have to offer and will not lead to a relevant and long-lasting business.

Too much time is spent troubleshooting the technical end of your site

There is a major problem when instead of providing better customer support you spend time troubleshooting and serving as technical support. If you spend more time fixing technical aspects your site than you do optimizing it then it’s time to start looking into new hosting options, content management systems, shopping cart programs, or even the entire framework and navigation of your site. It can be exhaustive to continually have to look into error messages and field emails asking why a certain feature of your site doesn’t work as intuitively as it should. Also, if scalability was not a priority the first time you designed your site, then you might be having problems in the future with finding ways and places to put important product and company information. If your site does not have the ability to grow with content and pages then chances are that your profits and sales don’t have a favorable chance to grow either.

Google and other search engines cannot find you

If search engine robots can’t find you, real-life people cannot, either. Are your landing pages, or the gateways to your site, well designed and optimized in a way that encourages customers to click to your site and eventually convert? Does your site match the expectation of query-based searches and messages found in your paid ads? Does your page structure and navigation match your top searched keywords? Is your site SEO friendly? Keep in mind that object such as flash is not crawled Google or other search engine robots and that keeping a stream of informative and interesting content will help the most with optimizing your organic search results. Make sure your top-selling products are represented well with good photos, good information about them and helpful customer reviews.

Adding value to an already valuable asset

Site redesign is not only for those with decreasing sales and leads – even a website that brings in net profit can benefit in the long run from a well thought out redesign. Consider what your net profit could be a year down the road if you did a site redesign or if you just kept things the same. Consider the higher conversion rate your site could potentially have and the sales and/or lead generation you could influence with some design tweaks. If your growth potential outweighs the immediate costs of pulling the trigger and doing a site overhaul, chances are you’re going to be making a good business decision that will pay out in the end.