Products & SKU’s
Published by Adam Greco on December 17, 2012.
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When I work with retailers who use Adobe SiteCatalyst, one topic that often emerges is the best way to handle the tracking Product ID’s and SKU’s. In this post, I will outline the challenges that exist and share some ways to handle product and SKU tracking in SiteCatalyst.
The Product vs. SKU Dilemma
The primary challenge that arises when it comes to Products and SKU’s is that there are often cases in which you have to set conversion Success Events at the point you know only the Product ID and other cases in which you know the Product ID and the detailed SKU. This is best illustrated by an example. Imagine that you are a retailer and one of the products you sell is a sweater. At the point that a website visitor views the product page for the sweater, you would want to set a Product View Success Event and the Products Variable (s.products). In this case, you most likely have a Product ID for the sweater being looked at by the visitor so you might pass that to the Products Variable such that your tagging looks like this:
So far so good. However, now let’s assume the website visitor chooses a color for the sweater (i.e. blue) and adds it to the shopping cart. In this case, you probably still know the Product ID, but also have a more detailed SKU that represents the sweater with the color being “blue.” Now you have two tagging choices. During the Cart Addition (scAdd) Success Event, should you pass the Product ID # (ProductID-111) or the more detailed SKU as shown below?
The issue with the preceding code is that your Products report will be disjointed since Product Views will be tied to Product ID’s and Cart Additions (and presumably Orders and Revenue) will be tied to the SKU ID. Here is what a sample Products report would look like if the above visitor were the only visitor to the website:
This is clearly not ideal since you’d like to see a full funnel report for each Product or SKU. While we have the option of cleaning up this report by applying SAINT Classifications to roll it up by Product ID, this can be time consuming. Therefore, let’s look at a few ways to improve upon this reporting.
Solution #1 – Product ID Only
If our goal is to produce a clean Products report such that metrics are consistent for each Product ID, one approach is to only pass the higher-level Product ID to the Products variable for all shopping cart Success Events. In the preceding example, this would mean passing a value of “ProductID-111″ with the Product View event and all other shopping cart events. This will allow you to see drop-off between these shopping cart Success Events by Product ID as shown here:
This is the most basic solution, but has one major drawback – it is not possible to see detail below the Product ID. Since you are only setting Product ID’s, there is no way for SiteCatalyst to magically allow you to breakdown the shopping cart Success Events by SKU since you haven’t provided the SKU. This approach works if your products don’t have detailed SKU’s, but if they do, you might find this option limiting and consider moving onto the next approach.
Solution #2 – SKU Merchandising
If your organization subdivides Products into SKU’s at the Cart Addition step, I suggest you use a different approach. In the past I have discussed Product Merchandising, which is a way in SiteCatalyst to associate an eVar value with a specific Products Variable value. Product Merchandising can be used in this situation to bind a SKU to each Product ID using a new SKU Merchandising eVar. In this case we will ask ClientCare to enable a new Merchandising eVar using the “Product Syntax” approach. Once this is done, we can pass the Product ID to the Products Variable as shown in the above solution, but additionally pass the SKU to a new Merchandising eVar whenever it is present:
During the Product View:
s.events="prodView, event1"; s.products=";ProductID-111";
During the Cart Addition:
Keep in mind that if we wanted, we could pass in the actual SKU value (i.e. “Blue” as the color) instead of using the SKU #, but passing the SKU# is ok since we can use SAINT to classify it later.
So far this may not seem to get us much further than we were previously, but as I will show, this set-up does make a big difference. First, you can see a complete funnel by Product ID as shown above by using the Products Variable. But now we have an additional eVar that can be used to see the conversion funnel by SKU. To do this, simply add shopping cart metrics to this new SKU eVar report and you can see everything except Product Views (since those don’t have a SKU):
Since you have two different variables, you can also use Conversion Subrelations to break the Product ID down by the new SKU eVar to see the Product ID metrics broken down by SKU for all shopping cart metrics except Product Views:
As always, there are many different approaches to things in SiteCatalyst, but hopefully the preceding gives you some things to consider when dealing with Products and SKU’s. If you have other cool approaches you have used, please leave them as a comment here. Thanks!
About Adam Greco
Adam Greco is a longstanding member of the web analytics community who has consulted with hundreds of clients across every industry vertical. Mr. Greco began his web analytics career managing the website for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and then became one of the founders of the Omniture Consulting group. While at Omniture, Mr. Greco managed accounts large and small and helped clients maximize their use of Omniture technologies. In 2012, in partnership with Adobe, Mr. Greco is publishing the first-ever book on Adobe SiteCatalyst - The Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook: An Insider's Guide.
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