E-commerce analytics: Is it love or stalking?

Internet analytics is sometimes spitefully compared to stalking. There are numerous articles available on-line telling us how to protect against it and guard our privacy.

At the same time, already 10 years ago, the biggest Fortune 500 companies understood the returns offered by investment in analytics. Is it worth it then?

The usual for you?

Imagine a local corner store where the shop assistant knows you and your preferences well. As soon as you go through the door you hear "Look, I've got something just for you". What an assistant - you must know his name! For years he has been paying close attention to what you buy, how often you shop and what time you come to his store. You feel noticed and special, which makes you spend more with him.

This experience can be replicated on-line, in an on-line store, exactly thanks to analytics which is about pertinent observation and getting to know your customers. You will know who orders the most: is it men or women? What age? Where do they live? Do they use a desktop or a smartphone? You will also understand the buying process. If you are looking for optimisation areas, it might be of special interest to obtain some information on who visits your on-line store but never buys or which products are often viewed but rarely ordered.

This knowledge can come through Google Analytics. Thanks to it you will be able not only to design more relevant marketing campaigns, but also customise your website and your offering to real customer needs. You will not bombard users with intrusive commercials of the products they will never buy anyway.

Every step you take I’ll be watching you

An analyst carefully watches every step of the users. He wants to know where they came from, where they started their visit, what they viewed, how long they spent on the website and whether they bought anything. The most interesting fact will be why customers quit the purchase, what turns them off and how to change that.

Having collected information about users, we can propose changes to the system and ways to develop it tailored precisely both to business needs as well as end users. The efficiency of the changes implemented will be verified also using analytics.


Analytics-based optimisation

How does it work in practice? We may see what materials attract customers to our on-line store and what content they search, so that we can provide materials they are looking for. Thus, we will invest in creating only that content which is relevant to the users.

Another interesting application of analytics in e-commerce is studying visits which do not end in a purchase. We need to first understand why it happens that way. Maybe the users do not like the product or the website or maybe they are unable to find what they need. However, it may happen that users quitting the website will come back later or buy from our bricks-and-mortar store.

How to know this? One of the ways is implementing the function of adding to favourites. Thanks to it, you will be able to see how many users who do not finalise their purchase are interested in the product, but wish to buy it in a different way or at a different time.

This allows to offer to such users additional functions which can facilitate their shopping, e.g. an option of printing out the saved products in the form of a shopping list which they can use in a traditional store or a messaging system alerting them of the products which have been added to favourites.

Analytics is customer focus

It is thanks to the job of analysts that the customer may feel more comfortable, may easily find what he is looking for, feel noticed and receive special treatment. It is about improving the experience by remaining sensitive to customer needs - just like this local store assistant who would always remember your taste and your choices.

Analytics is no stalking, but a way of paying attention to the customer and his needs and a readiness to adjust your e-commerce business to real customer needs. All the more so, because when you acquire collective and anonymous data there is no risk of infringing on the user privacy.

People first, then the tools

If you feel convinced about implementing analytics in your on-line business, before you begin, note the 10/90 rule advocated by the guru of on-line analytics Avinash Kaushnik. For every 10 dollars invested in the tools, you should invest 90 dollars in the right people: those who will know how to obtain valuable and useful data, will be able to interpret them and recommend best solutions. Even the best tools, if they are not configured and used accurately may distort our judgement or flood us with a wave of meaningless reports and charts we are unable to conclude from.

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