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Mastering Google Analytics 4: A Practical Guide for E-commerce Retailers on Events and Metrics

Understanding Google Analytics 4: A Guide for E-commerce Retailers

As many e-commerce retailers shift to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it’s common to encounter confusion, especially when distinguishing between events and metrics—two fundamental concepts crucial for insightful analytics. This blog aims to clarify these concepts using real-world examples to leverage GA4 more effectively in your e-commerce strategy.

What are Events in GA4?

Imagine you’re running an online store that sells vintage-style clothing. Whenever a shopper views a product, adds an item to their cart, or completes a purchase, these actions can be tracked as events in GA4. Events are simply users’ interactions with your website. Events provide a detailed look at how users engage with your site’s content and features.

For example, if a customer views a pair of jeans, this can be tracked as a view_product event. If they add the jeans to their cart, this triggers an add_to_cart event. These events help you understand the user journey on your site from initial interest to purchase.

What are the Metrics in GA4?

Metrics quantify the data from these events. They provide numerical values that help you measure the performance of different site elements. Metrics can be as straightforward as counting how often a product is viewed or more complex measurements like calculating the average order value.

Continuing with our online store example, let’s say 100 visitors viewed the vintage jeans, and 25 added them to their cart. Here, 100 views and 25 adds are the view_product and add_to_cart events metrics, respectively. These metrics allow you to evaluate how well the jeans perform compared to other products.

Why the Confusion?

The transition to GA4 often brings confusion due to its new event-based model, which differs significantly from Universal Analytics’ previous session-based tracking. In GA4, almost everything is an event, which offers flexibility but requires a new understanding of tracking and interpreting user interactions.

Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) introduces calculated metrics as a powerful tool, empowering e-commerce retailers to derive sophisticated insights from their data. In GA4, you can create custom calculations based on existing metrics, giving you the control to analyse data more deeply, tailored to your unique business needs. It’s important to understand that only quantitative data metrics, not events, can be used in these calculations.

Consider an online retailer analysing their shopping cart efficiency. By setting up item-scoped metrics like cartViews, which increments each time a product is viewed in the cart, insights can be gleaned about which products are grabbing more attention and potentially leading to higher sales.

Similarly, tracking how often items are added to wishlists through an addToWishlist metric reveals customer preferences, indicating likely future purchases or areas ripe for promotional efforts.

To leverage these insights, calculate the cartViews ratio to purchase to understand how often interest in a product translates into a potential sale. This calculation is set up in GA4 by navigating to “Custom Definitions” under “Configure,” where you can create a new calculated metric using a formula like cartViews/purchase.

By focusing on these precise metrics, retailers can fine-tune their strategies, enhance user engagement, and drive sales, showcasing the potential for growth and success using calculated metrics in optimising e-commerce operations. Remember, while GA4 allows for robust data manipulation, it limits functions in formulae to basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, ensuring simplicity in data handling.

GA4 also supports the creation of item-scoped custom dimensions, allowing you to track detailed product attributes, such as colour or size. This further enriches your analysis and enables a deeper understanding of product performance and customer preferences. With these tools, businesses can harness detailed insights to optimise strategies and achieve better outcomes in their e-commerce activities.

Real-World Application for E-commerce Retailers

For e-commerce retailers, mastering events and metrics in GA4 can vastly improve your ability to track and analyse customer behaviour. Here’s how you can apply this:

  • Event Tracking: Customise events to track specific interactions that matter to your business, such as product_views, add_to_wishlist, or purchases.
  • Metric Analysis: Use metrics to measure the impact of marketing campaigns, track conversion rates, and understand shopping behaviours. For instance, if you launch a new product line, monitoring events and metrics will tell you how many people are interested, how many are converting, and what the average spend is.
  • Calculated Metrics: Develop calculated metrics to combine and compare standard metrics for deeper insights. For example, by comparing addToWishlist and cartViews, you can assess the effectiveness of product interest against actual purchasing intent. Setting up a calculated metric to find the ratio of these two can highlight opportunities to convert wish-listed items into sales, optimising your promotional strategies.

Tips for Getting Started with GA4

  1. Define Important Events: Identify which user actions are critical for your business and set them up as events in GA4.
  2. Set Up Metrics: Decide what metrics you need to evaluate these events effectively. This could include data like total event counts, monetary values, or user engagement times.
  3. Use Real-Time Reports: GA4 offers real-time reporting that can help you immediately see the impact of changes to your website or marketing strategies.
  4. Educate Your Team: Ensure your marketing and analytics teams understand the differences between events and metrics to use GA4 to its full potential.


Understanding and utilising the distinctions between events and metrics in GA4 can demystify the initial confusion and enable you to harness powerful insights that drive strategic business decisions. Whether increasing product views, optimising add-to-cart rates, or improving overall user engagement, GA4’s capabilities are designed to support your growth in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

Elevate Your E-commerce Strategy with Advanced Analytics

Don’t settle for basic analytics. Unlock the full potential of your e-commerce business with GA4’s enhanced e-commerce capabilities. Follow our detailed guide, adhere to best practices, and address any tracking issues to ensure you’re capturing accurate and actionable data. Doing so will give you the deep insights needed to optimise your online store, boost your sales, and achieve outstanding results.

Ready to elevate your e-commerce analytics? Contact us at [email protected] and discover how our Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics expertise can transform your data into powerful growth strategies. Let’s collaborate to bring your business vision to life!

Explore Further:

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Using Google Analytics 4 for E-commerce
    Learn how to measure your online store’s performance, track sales, and understand user behaviour with GA4’s e-commerce tracking capabilities. This guide provides a comprehensive look at setting up and optimising e-commerce events to drive strategic decisions.
    Read the complete guide here
  2. Enhanced E-commerce in GA4
    Discover how Enhanced E-commerce in GA4 offers vital insights into user purchase behaviours, helping you optimise your online store. This guide covers accessing and interpreting Enhanced E-commerce reports, which are crucial for understanding product performance and shopping behaviour.
    Learn more about Enhanced E-commerce
  3. How Google Analytics 4 Revolutionizes E-commerce Websites
    Explore the transformative benefits of GA4 for e-commerce, focusing on user-centric measurement and tracking across multiple devices. This article discusses how GA4 can be a game-changer by providing a holistic view of customer interactions.
    Read the full article here
  4. Google Analytics 4: A Guide for Your E-commerce Store
    If you’re transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4, this guide offers practical tips on integration, tracking differences, and understanding GA4’s event-based model. It’s handy for Shopify merchants looking to update their analytics setup.
    Check out the guide
  5. Google Analytics 4: A Handy Guide for Online Retailers
    This guide simplifies how GA4 collects and analyses data from websites and apps, providing valuable insights for online retailers. It’s a great starting point for those new to GA4, offering clear explanations of its features and benefits.
    View the guide here


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