Tracking E-Commerce on Google Analytics [video]

“Perform stakeholder interviews to understand what they need to know. It’s important to start before your implementation so you can provide value on that and minimize future work that you’re going to end up doing anyway.”

Joe Christopher, Analytics Director and Partner at Blast Advanced Media, speaks on tracking e-commerce on Google Analytics. His talk focuses on:

  1. The business requirements
  2. Tracking recommendations
  3. Tracking e-commerce transactions
  4. Powerful e-commerce custom variables

1. The Business Requirements

It’s important to clarify goals at this stage. This is the stage where you talk to business users and ask them what they need to know. For more information look at Blast’s Business Requirements Page

2. Tracking Recommendations

  1. How far do people get through the conversion process before dropping out?
  2. What are visitors looking for on your site?
  3. How does on-site social engagement impact conversion?
  4. How are the newsletter and other channels performing?
  5. Are visitors looking at the product feature tabs on my site?
  6. If the visitor enters an invalid promo code, do they still convert?
  7. Do visitors who chat for help end up converting?

3. Tracking Ecommerce Transactions

Some issues:

  1. Where do you place the code? – On the confirmation page.
  2. Be very careful with Google’s requirements. You must have an SKU, and it must be unique. Commas in a number will be read as decimal points. Currency signs create problems. Don’t use them.
  3. Some common issues include non-unique SKUs. JS errors, programming errors, reloads of receipt page, and users who have JS or cookies turned off.
  4. Since Google Analytics does not track multiple currencies, it is best to choose a master currency for overall reports, and then have the currency defined in an affiliation parameter. You can also set up different profiles for each currency and/or set up advanced segments to track the currencies.
  5. Some creative uses for the affiliation parameter include tracking the user’s hostname, original currency, payment method, and shipment method. This helps you perform multi-directional analysis on transactions
  6. Three options for tracking discount values are tracking item prices and transaction total after discounts (per item), track an additional item with a negative value, and call it discount, or track an event to indicate the promo code, transaction ID, and integer value.

4. Powerful Ecommerce Custom Variables


  1. Track purchasers and purchase count (code snippet at 44 min)
  2. Track Logged-in Customers (code snippet at 45 min)
  3. Track Newsletter Subscribers (code snippet at 46 min)
  4. Track Conversion Optimization Tests (code snippet at 47 min)


  • Perform stakeholder interviews to understand what they need to know and what makes them successful.
  • Start tagging your campaigns tomorrow!
  • Audit your ecommerce transaction data to see how accurate it is.
  • Leverage custom variables to extend what GA tracks and perform deeper segmentation and analysis

Joe Christopher – Partner & Analytics Director

Joe ChristopherJoe Christopher, Analytics Director & Partner at Blast Advanced Media, approaches every project with a deep understanding of Google Analytics. Joe has an extensive technological background and proven experience that has earned him the title, “Mr. Master of Everything Web.” He is a master of ASP.NET, MySQL/MSSQL, JavaScript, and many other programming languages and technologies. Joe also has a keen eye for website optimization with a focus on usability.

Joe graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Digital Multimedia. Always striving to learn more and enhance his skill set, you will probably find him with his nose in a book or reading up on his favorite tech blogs. Outside of geeky stuff, Joe enjoys trying new restaurants, mountain biking, and spending time with his lovely wife and family.