‘Send Ecommerce data’ is a new, significant feature in GA4 that makes using either a legacy GA Universal Ecommerce schema or the new GA4 Ecommerce schema natively readable by Google Tag Manager via a data layer or an object.
It’s often difficult to keep pace with evolving scripts and methods for Google Analytics, especially in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the latest version. But don’t worry; we’re on it! Here’s what you need to know.
Ecommerce changes in GA4
Ecommerce tracking is a feature that’s changed significantly in GA4, requiring a new properly formatted GA4 Ecommerce object throughout the checkout process.
What’s changed? Well, within Universal Analytics (set to expire in June 2023), Google Tag Manager (GTM) had a feature that was a box check. This ‘Use Data Layer’ checkbox allowed UA to pull purchase funnel data into GA’s Ecommerce and Enhanced Ecommerce reporting. In GA4, this feature was lost, causing ecommerce practitioners a lot of extra work and maybe a few ulcers.
Now, all the extra steps required to get purchase funnel data into GA4’s Ecommerce Reporting are being replaced with the new ‘Send Ecommerce data’ feature.
Why is the new ‘Send Ecommerce data’ feature a big deal?
The initial release of GA4 Ecommerce didn’t make this expedited feature available, and instead required creating and maintaining individual variables that were difficult to parse and reliably send transaction-type data to the ‘Monetization’ reports (a new reporting structure for ecommerce tracking in GA4). This was a big lift to build and maintain in GTM, and now this lift is going away.
The feature automatically parses info from the data layer into the GA4 Event Tag. This saves the time of having to individually create variables for all parts of the Ecommerce tracking schema, including Purchase, Add To Cart, or any of the other events along the Ecommerce tracking schema.
What are the benefits of the ‘Send ecommerce data’ feature?
- Saves time and effort by eliminating the more manual format previously required by GA4.
- Eliminates the need to maintain individual variables.
- Provides backwards compatibility for those GA Universal users that want to continue to use GA Universal tags that have a GA4 data layer format via the ‘Use GA4 Schema’ box check.
What does migration from UA to GA4 look like for the ecommerce vertical?
The transition to GA4 for ecommerce has been mostly in Beta since the start of GA4, going back to when it was called ‘App+Web’. One of the pain points with GA4 Ecommerce has been integrating the data layer for events and ecommerce to expedite the passing in of data.
On August 24th, 2022, Google released the ‘Send Ecommerce data’ feature that has largely flown under the radar. But it deserves fanfare! Especially for more advanced users of Google Analytics that are in the process of transitioning to GA4 from Universal.
Because of the heavy lift required before the update coupled with the fact that many ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Netsuite, and Magento haven’t fully rolled out the Universal schema for GA/GTM, many users have not, to this point, invested time in fully integrating either GA4 or ecommerce tracking. Now, both of those tasks are easier for brands in the ecommerce vertical.
How does the feature work?
Simply check the box for ‘Send Ecommerce data’ and decide to pull in from a Data layer or a Custom Object. And like magic, that data is automatically parsed into Event Parameters that feed into GA4 Ecommerce.
Please note that you’ll need to use Google’s recommended event names for ecommerce and not custom events (our analytics management system Apollo, discussed below, can do this for you if you don’t have the time to figure all this out and do it yourself manually). Also keep in mind that you have only 50 events and 25 custom dimensions available in the standard version of GA4.
What’s the fastest way to migrate from GA Universal to GA4?
As time is running out for getting off of GA Universal, it becomes more and more important to quickly migrate to GA4. Apollo offers two solution tiers—Apollo Migration and Apollo Full Access—to help with this quick solution for anyone who’s leveraging the ‘Send Ecommerce data’ feature within GA4.
To determine which solution tier is right for your business, consider whether you want to continue to use your old UA enhanced ecommerce data layer or if you want to update to the new GA4 ecommerce data layer that matches all of Google’s recommendations. Apollo Migrations helps you make the move quickly if you want to continue to use your UA ecommerce data layer; Apollo Full Access gives you the opportunity to automate your transition to the new GA4 recommended data layer, and it keeps the data layer and documentation up-to-date on an ongoing basis based on your business requirements.
See pricing for all Apollo solution tiers here.
How can Search Discovery help ecommerce businesses transition to GA4?
Search Discovery is a Google Premier Partner. This designation means that we’re in the top tier of Google’s most trusted partners for both licensing Google Marketing Platform and Google Cloud products (including Google Analytics 4) and providing end-to-end expert service for these products.
Our Google clients benefit from our relationship with Google, as we pass along exclusive content, cutting-edge implementation, training, and support, and access to proprietary tech accelerators like Apollo that speed time to market.
We also have extensive expertise in GA4 implementations—we’ve been delivering these since the platform was released in beta in 2019, and we think we’re on track to complete more GA migrations than any other Google partner.