Enhanced eCommerce Analytics - Understanding why 70% of your shopping carts are abandoned

Aran Reeks
By Aran Reeks
6 Aug 2014

Study after study shows that cart abandonment rates are stubbornly high. A recent 'survey of surveys' by Baymard Institute puts the average shopping cart abandonment rate at 67.91%! 

Baymard used 27 different studies to come up with the figure. The individual studies vary in time (2006 - 2014), size and location. The results vary enormously - with abandonment rates varying from 55 - 80%. And, you might well ask, how useful or authoritative are these studies with such a broad range of results?


Maybe that's not the question you need to ask though.

The fact that studies produce such a wide range of results proves that there is no immutable law of eCommerce conversion; one that says cart abandonment rates and overall conversion rates are the same no matter what you do with your site or whatever sort of experience you offer users.

The question should probably be what is your abandonment rate and what can you do about reducing it?

You certainly can do something about cart abandonment and conversion rates if you understand what's happening on your eCommerce site. If you want to know more about actions you can take to minimise cart abandonment, read this previous article.

eCommerce Analytics

The fact that Universal Analytics (UA) recently came out of beta testing means that getting detailed information about how people use any website should become more straightforward. 

This doesn't necessarily mean that it suddenly becomes simple or that you don't need to think very hard about the data you want to measure. But UA allows you much greater flexibility in what you can track.

And the recently released Enhanced eCommerce Analytics plugin for UA gives online retailers greater insight into how consumers are interacting with their store. This additional data when interpreted correctly allows store owners to make more informed decisions which in turn leads to better conversion rates and more profit.


The new plugin sees significant enhancements over the previous version of Google Analytics’ eCommerce tracking that has been around for some time. The basic version collects straightforward data on transactions such as revenue, shipping costs,  items sold etc.  This is useful, but far from the whole story.

To find out more detailed information than you could get with the basic eCommerce Analytics you needed to set up specific goals and event tracking as we covered in this recent article. And if you're not yet ready to switch to UA quite yet, you’ll likely find this article very helpful.

Greater depth

Because eCommerce is now such a big part of what happens on the internet there was a clear demand for tools that offer a greater depth of analysis. This is needed to make informed decisions about modifications aimed at improving conversions. 

The Enhanced eCommerce plugin lets you discover how far shoppers get into your buying process, where they drop out, which products have better conversion rates and which most frequently get abandoned with the cart. Sounds pretty good.

The enhanced reporting also makes it much easier to track on site promotions, coupon codes and affiliate marketing so you can see exactly which ones generate traffic that actually converts. This has the potential to save heaps of cash from being wasted on ineffective marketing.

Google is also promising the ability to “create rich user segments to delve deeper into your users' shopping behaviour and the products they interact with.”

What does that mean in practice? We'll delve deeper to explain.

The sort of data you can now track includes product impressions, product clicks, views of product details, adding a product to a shopping cart, initiating the checkout process, transactions, and refunds.

The most basic data object collected will be the product impression - basically, every time a product is displayed on screen. The data object must include the ID (SKU, for example) and the name. You can also collect the relevant product list, brand, product category, variant (e.g. colour, size...), list position and price.

In addition to impressions you can collect data about products as they are viewed, added to the cart or purchased.product_des_article

Here's how Google envisages a typical implementation measuring basic eCommerce activities:

  • Clicks on a product link.
  • Viewing product details.
  • Impressions and clicks of internal promotions.
  • Adding / removing a product from a shopping cart.
  • Initiating the checkout process for a product.
  • Purchases and refunds.

The plugin also allows you monitor individual actions within the checkout such as selecting delivery options.  And you can assign a descriptive name to each stage of your checkout process so you can measure progress through each stage and report the information in a meaningful way.


You can analyse each of these activities separately for individual traffic segments such as new users, location or traffic source. This will be really helpful if you want to establish whether new users are getting confused by your checkout process or put off by something else such as an apparent need to register before completing a purchase.


Collecting data is one thing. Enhanced eCommerce also presents the data to you in an easy to understand graphical format. Here are some of the things you can see at a glance:

  • How your sales process is performing at each stage from initial sessions to product views, add to cart, and checkout; with the number of dropouts clearly visible at each stage.
  • Within the checkout you can analyse performance at each stage so you can understand exactly where most of your abandoners are leaving the process. All of which is gold dust when you are trying to design intelligent hypotheses for A/B split tests.
  • You can analyse and compare the sales process for individual products, product categories or brand. So if products have atypically high or low ratios of purchases to views you can look at how they are presented, product descriptions and price to understand why they might be different from the norm.


Tailor your marketing

The enhanced reporting also makes it much easier to track on site promotions, coupon codes and affiliate marketing so you can see exactly which ones generate traffic that actually converts. This has the potential to save heaps of cash from being wasted on ineffective marketing.

If you use remarketing through email or the display network, you can also create remarketing lists directly from your Analytics data.  This should save time in creating and managing your remarketing lists.

What you need to do

The first thing you need to do is make sure you are using Universal Analytics (UA) rather than standard Analytics; which means using a different tracking code. In fact with UA there are 3 versions of the tracking code so you can collect data from PCs, native mobile apps and other devices such as Point of Sale (PoS) systems and consoles.

UA opens up the opportunity for any website owner to create custom dimensions and metrics to collect the exact data they need. With eCommerce this becomes particularly powerful - helping you target development on the areas that have most effect on conversions.

Here's an overview from Google about how to migrate from Classic to Universal Analytics. You cannot use the Enhanced eCommerce feature unless you are using Universal Analytics.google_developer

You then need to load the Enhanced eCommerce plug-in. You can find more information on this on the Google Developer Site.

Next, you need to think about the dimensions you want to set up so that you are collecting data that is going to be meaningful. I'd recommend going for a small number of custom dimensions to start with so that you don't get overwhelmed with information.

Then you need to make sure you schedule a sensible amount of time on a regular basis to analyse your reports, decide what action to take, devise A/B split tests and content experiments, and think about what else you can usefully measure.

As an eCommerce agency we are excited by the possibilities offered by the new eCommerce reporting. We'll be using it extensively in the coming months and we'll report back on what we find. Sign up to our blog below to make sure you don't miss anything.