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Today’s most successful online retailers rely on data to make intelligent merchandising decisions and quickly grow their sales. For many online businesses, that data comes from Google Analytics, a powerful and free online analytics tool that allows you to track pageviews, bounce rate and on-site browsing patterns of site visitors at a top-down level.

Unfortunately, however, for ecommerce managers and businesses, Google Analytics was created for publishers and does not provide well for the necessary insights needed for scaling businesses to compete with big box brands and marketplaces like Amazon.

To account for this and help merchants scale their digital growth, Bigcommerce now provides enterprise-grade, ecommerce-specific analytics to all of our merchants. However, since last week we’ve gotten quite a few questions — one in particular: what’s the difference between Bigcommerce Analytics and Google Analytics?

It’s a fair question and we took the time to sit down with Tim Schulz, our chief product officer (and former Google employee himself) to get the details on exactly how these free analytics offerings differ — and why ecommerce-specific metrics make the most sense for ecommerce merchants.

Q: Tim, let’s get right to it: what are the differences between Bigcommerce Analytics and Google Analytics?

That’s a great question and we understand why people might think there are similarities between the two solutions. Both are free to Bigcommerce merchants and both provide information that can help ecommerce stores grow. The key differences, however, are in the type of information each tool provides, how the information in each report is presented and managed, as well as the level of detail to which merchants can drill down.

Q: Can you give me an example of a Bigcommerce Analytics report that is different from what you get from Google Analytics?

One great example is the customer summary report. A big limitation of Google Analytics is that you cannot track individual customer behavior by name or email address and the data is also often delayed by several hours. The Bigcommerce customer summary report helps you to understand how your customers are behaving on your site in near real-time, and whether you are doing a good or bad job converting new customers to repeat customers.

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We also help you tie that behavior back to revenue, and see where each customer ranks in terms of spend — which Google also doesn’t do. Successful, growing merchants want to measure how much of their revenue comes from existing customers. Great businesses like Amazon actually generate two thirds of their revenue this way, and we’re glad to provide our merchants with the same suite of capabilities.

Q: What else do we now offer with Bigcommerce Analytics that merchants cannot get from Google Analytics?

Because our analytics are fully integrated into Bigcommerce, merchants can have a comprehensive, end-to-end view of revenue across all of their marketing channels in one place. This is very helpful to quickly determine which marketing campaigns drive the most conversions so you can optimize your marketing spend accordingly. One merchant reallocated 50% of their social media ad spend based on Bigcommerce Analytics data and instead put it toward Google Adwords, which was performing much better. They soon noticed a 300% increase in their customer conversion rates.

Q: You mentioned Bigcommerce Aalytics provides real-time commerce data.  What is an example of that within their reports?

Today’s digital shoppers make decisions very quickly and we’re always looking for ways to help our merchants stay one step ahead of their competitors. So, it was crucial to work with an analytics partner that was committed to getting data to our merchants as quickly as possible.

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One way that Bigcommerce Analytics showcases this capability is the real-time dashboard, which gives merchants instant insight into the revenue of their store, products being sold at that moment in time and a real-time activity stream of what is happening on their store. In addition to being fun to watch throughout the day, these capabilities become important to merchandisers when applied to other reports within Bigcommerce Analytic’s suite, including the store-overview report, the abandoned-cart report and the merchandising report.

Q: Addressing the needs of merchandisers seems to be a main differentiator vs. what Google Analytics provides. Can you further elaborate?

Bigcommerce Analytics offers merchandising reports which enable merchants to easily view revenue by categories, subcategories down to the SKU or product level. Whether you have one person or multiple merchandisers managing your product performance, Bigcommerce Analytics now makes it very easy for merchants to drill down into performance of their merchandise and make informed decisions about which SKUs to discount, which need to be re-ordered, etc. This is a key use case for ecommerce merchants that Google Analytics simply doesn’t provide.

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Q: So to summarize, how would you advise merchants to approach each tool with regard to running their business?

We have had a great relationship with Google over the years, and our blog contains numerous helpful articles advising our merchants how to use and set-up Google Analytics for their store. My advice is that it is still a great tool to track overall site performance, but it will take time to configure reports and make it work for your store. In fact, some of our merchants utilize Bigcommerce Analytics and Google side-by-side. However, because we built our solution exclusively for ecommerce merchants, and because the data is so fresh, down to the individual SKU or customer level, we have found that our most successful merchants just use Bigcommerce Analytics more frequently.

Learn more about using Bigcommerce Analytics and Google Analytics to scale your business here, and let us know in the comments how you are using these analytics platforms to sell more online.

Leave a Comment
  • If only BigCommerce analytics could include data from third party sales (eg. eBay sales via ChannelUnity) instantly instead of having a 24-48 hour time lag, we’d love to use it!

  • Hey Scott, thanks for commenting and flagging that for us. Our product team is now working with Boostable to figure out how to include this functionality ASAP. Stay tuned — and again, thanks! Your comment just very much impacted near-future upgrades to this product :)

  • I agree that BigCommerce Analytics provides quite a lot of data that you cannot get from Google Analytics. One thing that Google Analytics allows you to do, however, which you cannot do with BigCommerce, is filter out your own ip address/es from the reports. Especially at the beginning, when people are tweaking their stores, rewriting product descriptions to make them even better, adding more helpful resource articles and blog articles, etc., folks are constantly visiting their sites to see how things look. Because we cannot filter out our own IP addresses with BigCommerce, things like bounce rate and conversion rate are not as accurate as those figures are in Google Analytics (assuming you take advantage of the IP filtering option in Google Analytics).

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