Google Analytics 4 for eCommerce: a change for good

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a more comprehensive and complete way to know what is happening with your webshop. Many features from other Google dashboards are united in GA4 to achieve a more holistic approach to your data. For example, some features of Classic Google Analytics, Universal Analytics, Firebase, or Analytics 360º, are all present in GA4. 

I know, you did you not use any of those Google tools before. Don’t worry.

A major benefit of GA4 is that it is also meant to make our lives easier in regard to data visualization. The new GA4 data reports give a much better overview of what your visitors want. And they are very easy to get familiar with.

A GA4 chart to identify best/worst selling products vs. their impressions.

Let’s identify a few things from the chart:

  • Product ACME is the most purchased item, yet it has been seen 1000 times. Even though it is popular in terms of impressions, it does not convert as well as it should.
  • Adidas Superstar – Red has a much higher views-to-purchase ratio and consequently, it can benefit more from a potential promotion.

From this GA4 chart only we could decide to draft a promotional campaign for the Adidas Superstar – Red. This is how GA4 is meant to work: to give you the right insights for your business.


4 Main differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

GA4 uses Events instead of Sessions

In GA4 everything that the user does is measured with Events. Remember that because it is a fundamental part of GA4. In UA we used to measure everything with sessions: the users start a session and then do stuff. 

GA4 (Events) UA (Sessions)
Enriched data

The shift in focus from sessions to events offers important advantages to marketers, such as cross-platform analytics and greater path analysis capabilities. If only the Event matters it does not really matter when the event happens. 

GA4 is more User-centric

GA4 is user-centric. The focus is on how the user interacts with your webshop. It is all about tracking real user behavior from the moment they first enter your website to end up making a purchase or contacting you on mobile.

By moving to an event-based model, GA4 is more flexible and can better predict user behavior. We are also moving towards a world without cookies, where the importance of being able to track users without breaching any sensitive information is fundamental. With the help of machine learning, Google can capture insightful data for your marketing without violating anybody’s privacy.


Benefits of user-centric measurement

No personal data is used.
More action points are collected.
Machine learning allows to merge, filter, and clean the collected data.
The visitors win more privacy.
The businesses win user behavior insights.
Easy to overview the business funnel

For example, imagine that you want to measure Product Views no matter what device, platform, or domain is used. It is now possible with GA4. With UA analytics we couldn’t do this. In the past, we could only have independent data sources with different formats to be merged into one. And then, only have a basic funnel overview without real user behavior. 

Now with GA4, all action points from the user will be tracked anonymously. And with machine learning, they are all put back together in our data visualization dashboards. Plus, we need no personal data from the user to be able to analyze their behavior in our shop. It’s a win-win.

Differences between GA4 and UA - Google Analytics 4 - Phanum


GA4 makes use of machine learning

GA4 can capture extra information to create audiences, which are fundamental for your remarketing campaigns. You could for example use the user ID of your eCommerce site when the visitor is logged in. It is also possible to use Google Signals to obtain data from visitors navigating from other Google platforms (Gmail, Maps, Browser, etc.).

Advanced machine learning models can anonymize the data, de-duplicate it, and maintain the privacy of users while being able to make cross-device and user-centric reports.


GA4 has improved measurement

By using machine learning and tracking more data points Google Analytics 4 includes by default many more events in the basic tracking compared to Universal Analytics. New events like Outbound clicks or File downloads will be automatically measured for example.


Should I migrate to Google Analytics 4?

The question is not if, but when? Because:

Universal Analytics (UA) will be deprecated on July 1, 2023, which means it will stop processing data. Analytics 360 properties will stop working on October 1, 2023. Migrate to Google Analytics 4.

Because of the use of Events, with Google Analytics 4 we can now better understand what is happening in our webshop. For example:

  • which product has more difficulties being sold (and why!);
  • or what shipping methods are the most successful.

Why Google Analytics 4 is good for eCommerce?

With GA4 we can really measure our eCommerce funnel. Now we have a stronger source of information to make business decisions. With UA we were limited to measuring by page views, without real insights into each step of our funnel. 

GA4 helps to unify the data, for example by adding up all the web + app transactions (or any other event). Which in the end, despite the device or domain, is the same action.

In UA we could also create events into UA but the data collected wasn’t as rich as it is with GA4. Look at the difference:

UA event for category page GA4 event for category page

Migration to GA4 is not an option or an alternative, it is a must and the clock is ticking. It is thus best to do the migration as soon as possible.


Final thoughts

To sum up the main points in this blog post:

  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a more comprehensive and complete way to know what is happening with your webshop.
  • There are 4 main differences between GA4 & UA. GA4 uses events instead of sessions, is more user-centric, uses machine learning & has improved measurements.
  • UA will stop processing data on July 1, 2023 – so start migrating to Google Analytics 4 now.

Did you find this article helpful? Then you might also like our article on How to add the GA4 data layer to your eCommerce site.


If you have made it this far through the blog…

Chances are that you are seriously looking to implement Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to optimize your webshop. That’s great we are here for it!

Phanum team

To get your website ready and optimized for Google Analytics 4, contact one of our specialists.


Or learn more about your future SEO Strategist: Jairo Guerrero.