The past couple days I've been talking about getting more people to your site with epic content, keeping people interested with newsletters, and using intelligent recommendations to increase order size and volume. All of those help you get more orders which is what you need when you're just getting started. Once you've had your store up and running for a while it's time to take a look through your catalog and refine it. Are any products doing very well or very poorly? Which ones are just bad products and which need a marketing push to make them successful products? You can do all of this with reports.
Advanced E-Commerce Reporting
Your e-commerce platform should have some reports built in but some of the best reporting comes from 3rd party platforms so make sure your platform integrates with these services.
Google Analytics E-Commerce
Imagine combining your e-commerce data (average order value, orders per month, etc) with Google Analytics data (source, time on site, number of visits, etc). That's exactly what Google Analytics e-commerce tracking does. Instead of just looking at the number of visitors that come to your site you can figure out exactly what percentage of visitors make an order, or what how much revenue you make from each Facebook visit compared to visits from Twitter, or where people get stuck in the conversion tunnel. You can use all of this information to tweak your site and your product catalog.
The best news here is that this tracking is totally free and you're probably already signed up for it. You only need to turn it on within Google Analytics settings and make sure that your e-commerce platform prints the right code on the Thank You page. This is so common and so useful that just about all e-commerce solutions do this.
- Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce all offer a free way to install the Google Analytics e-commerce code.
- Easy Digital Downloads surprisingly has this as a paid add on.
- Gumroad has the easiest setup and automatically tracks e-commerce events (ex. item viewed, item added to cart, purchased)
- PayPal buttons are a pain because you have to manually add the code to your site
User Behavior Tracking
If you have any sort of service where users log in and perform actions, like for example having a site with premium content, then you'll want to track users actions and you'll want to use tools designed to track events. Instead of just tracking how many people click the close account button you want to know after how many months users click the button, or what is the most common action users take before closing their account. With information like that you can find the pain points of your customers and fix them increasing how long users use your app.
We use KissMetrics on WooThemes.com and it's worked quite well but another excellent alternative for people just starting out is MixPanel because they have a free plan. They also have a nifty real-time analytics feature which allows you to watch users as they browse through your site.
Built In Reporting
All of this 3rd party tracking is great but unfortunately no 3rd party system will have all of the data your e-commerce platform has. With your own e-commerce platform you can track how different coupons are performing, how much you're actually making per sale (profit instead of just revenue), stock status, sales by category, etc.
Cost of Goods
- WooCommerce has a nice Cost of Goods extension
- Magento has a nice Profit and Loss extension
- Shopify has the Profiteer app which calculates profit and loss
- Gumroad & Paypal buttons don't have this functionality at all
Getting reports about your coupons is more important than you think. You should track how well different different groups of coupons perform and if you're making money off of them of if the discounts are too steep and you're breaking even.
- WooCommerce has an upcoming Coupon Campaign extension (I know because I'm building it)
- Magento has the Sales by Coupon extension
- Shopify doesn't seem to have anything nor do Paypal buttons or Gumroad
There's a huge amount of data you can mine if you have the right platform. Some platforms have nice prebuilt solutions which might suit your needs. If you're a data guy and you like looking at all of the data this is one of those times where it pays to have a self hosted solution. Then you can have a developer create custom reports for you. Custom creating a report for a hosted app is much harder.
If you can get rid of the cruft in your catalog both your customers and your bottom line will thank you.
Photo Credit: andymangold
Hey, great article! I would fall under the category of having PayPal buttons on a client’s site and would like to add ecommerce tracking to them. Could you recommend anyone?
If you have a WordPress website I recommend Codeable.
Here’s the documentation for the e-commerce tracking code.