E-commerce: What digital analytics strategy for 2023?

Nicolas Malo, Founder of Optimal Ways, looks back at the change that will affect e-commerce teams with the end of the Universal Analytics solution (Google Analytics v3) announced for July 2023. Tribune.

Through Contributeur externe. Published on 16 January 2023 à 15h56 - Update on 16 January 2023 à 16h46

The Google Analytics solution is installed on most e-commerce websites today. However, in 6 months’ time, the current version (Universal Analytics or Google Analytics v3) will no longer operate from July 1st, 2023 and historical data will be completely erased by 31st December 2023.

A significant change is required for online retailers. What should their digital analytics strategy be for 2023?

For them, this change comes at a crucial time, 18 months after the implementation of customer consent on e-commerce websites. For many retailers, the drop in customer data collected is up to 50%. This means that knowledge of customers has drastically diminished.

Google Analytics 4, a worthy successor to Universal Analytics?

If a business has not yet implemented an alternative, there is less than 6 months to migrate to a new Digital Analytics solution. However, a firm is using the paid version of Google Analytics (GA360), has over a year left to migrate to another service from July 1st, 2024.

Google Analytics 4 (GA 4) is often seen as a logical replacement for Universal Analytics with its native gateways to Google Ads and Google BigQuery. That said, this new version has been designed primarily to analyse cross-device user journeys between apps and websites of a same brand, with advanced audience creation features for Google Ads. However, its e-commerce reports are not comparable to Universal Analytics, but these should link later this year. On the other hand, the free version of GA4 has limitations that may make it necessary to upgrade to the paid version of Google Analytics for high traffic e-commerce websites.

For this reason, online retailers are considering using other digital analytics solutions in addition to GA4. Among the solutions available on the market, here are the most common solutions:

Adobe Analytics: this solution is well suited for websites with high traffic and a large number of SKUs. Complex analysis uses the “Workspace” module.

Contentsquare: this solution, initially intended more for UX analysis, has been upgraded to offer features for merchandising and error analysis.

Eulerian: originally designed for “ad-centric” traffic analysis with an attribution module, this solution also includes a “site-centric” analysis module for consumer journeys on e-commerce sites.

Piano Analytics: formerly known as “AT Internet”, this solution has been
completely overhauled with an e-commerce feature that compares with Universal Analytics and an advanced analysis tool called “Data Query”. Particular attention has been paid to compliance with the CNIL specifications for consent exemption.

-Piwik Pro: as an e-commerce service, the functional scope of this solution is not comparable to Universal Analytics. An upgrade is planned this year.

GDPR compliance

Whichever solution selected, even GA4, it will not be possible to migrate data from Universal Analytics to a new solution. The user interface will be different. All dashboards will have to be recreated to allow data to be migrated into the new platform.

Another important aspect is the cost and time of training staff on the new technology.

In addition, it will be possible to exempt certain solutions from consent, on the condition that they follow a configuration guide validated by the CNIL.

In order to move ahead to replace Universal Analytics, retailers must consider the following questions :

-compliance with GDPR legislation and consent, especially if a website operates in different countries, and in particular the share of sites’ traffic currently measured by a Digital Analytics solution (% of users tracked),

-key metrics to track on websites to measure and improve their performance, requirement to measure activation of visitors and customers of websites (targeting, retargeting…),

-the third-party systems and integration of digital analytics data (media platforms, CRM, data lake….),

– The resources available internally and externally (freelance, agency…) to carry out a fully tested data migration and to build skills on a new Digital Analytics solution.

Deploying in parallel several analytics solutions

After having analyzed these points, a retailer will have a clearer picture to decide on the most relevant digital analytics solution for them. They will have a better vision of the time and resources required for implementation, new dashboards and training.

Sometimes, given the hyper-specialization of the needs of e-commerce teams and the complexity of a legal environment, it will be necessary to install several solutions in parallel in order to meet the different challenges. The traffic team could use a solution such as Eulerian, while the merchandising team would use Contentsquare and the e-commerce team Piano Analytics.

Implementing a new solution is the cornerstone of any Digital Analytics strategy for 2023. To ensure success of this new tool, businesses need to create a solid and measured governance within an e-commerce team. This must align all stakeholders on the measurement, analysis and optimisation of the performance of e-commerce websites.

Nicolas Malo

-09/2011 to present : Founder, Optimal Ways
-03/2012 to 09/2015: Co-Founder, Institute of Connected Commerce
-10/2008 to 09/2011 : Digital Analytics Consultant & Professional Services Director
-01/2001 to 04/2004: Digital Operations Director, Oracle