By Daniel Romberg | Consultant

Despite the wealth of customer data made available by ecommerce, many retailers and brands are still struggling to make the most of their data using Google Analytics (GA).

Google Analytics dominates the sphere of web analytics as it offers the most practical out-of-the-box solution available and quickly lets businesses gather vital metrics to help guide incremental improvements. Despite its relative simplicity, GA is not without its flaws and poor implementation, sampled data, and limited access to relevant dimensions and metrics can impact the accuracy and validity of its output. 


Poor implementation is often related to issues with filtering, tag management and not selecting the most appropriate settings. For more details on this, you can read our blog about some of the mistakes that retailers make when setting up GA.

Sampled Data

Problems caused by sampled data often go unchecked since the standard views do not visually change when a property in GA exceeds the maximum limit of 10 million hits/month. At this point, it is likely that Google will contact you to discuss an upgrade to its Google Analytics 360 premium account. However, this is not communicated clearly through the interface and the $150,000 annual upgrade fees may be prohibitively expensive for many retailers and brands.

Access to User ID

One of the primary issues with the GA interface is that it limits access to some of the most useful dimensions for aggregation, such as User ID.

GA divides the customer journey into hits, sessions and users, but does not give retailers easy access to user-specific data. Despite its name, a ‘user’ in GA is somewhat limited in its scope and a ‘user’ journey is restricted to the cookies available on a device or browser.

As a result, a customer that switches from desktop to mobile (and vice-versa) while browsing a website, will be incorrectly recognised in GA as two users rather than one. Considering customers are increasingly using multiple devices, coupled with the greater need to link online and offline data, access to User ID functionality has grown in importance.

So, what is the solution?

As part of its premium service and the introduction of Universal Analytics, Google now offers access to User ID which allows businesses to view journeys across multiple devices as a single user. 

But, businesses can also track their customers by correctly setting up their own custom dimensions. This can be done by creating a:

  • Hit timestamp
  • Session ID
  • Client ID
  • And a User ID

In doing so, businesses will be able to start tracking customers across devices, developing a better understanding of how the most loyal customers interact with their site and gaining more insight into the movement of customers between online and offline channels.

At Practicology, our insight team helps our clients to jump-start their site analytics and develop their omnichannel strategies. If you want to gain more insight from your data or would like us to review whether your business is making the most of its analytics tools, please contact us at

Retailers and brands can also sign up to receive our monthly European Ecommerce Benchmarking report. Find out more about how to subscribe here.

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