5 new ways Google Analytics can help you improve your business

By Grant Kemp

As a Google Analytics evangelist I’m always looking at how businesses can improve the way they use data. A lot of businesses are seeing value in using Google Analytics out-of-the-box on their sites. But they’re missing out on the massive value that comes from connecting other parts of the business into Google Analytics. 

With a understanding of what to look at, where to find it, and how to measure against your business goals, tools like Google Analytics can help your retail organisation enrich the digital experiences you deliver and achieve the holy grail of becoming an ‘experience business’.

Here are five new uses of Google Analytics my clients are employing to drive more business value: 

1. Measuring the whole business process

In the old days, Google Analytics was just a snippet that sat in a corner of the website. Nowadays it’s a whole ecosystem of technologies that can measure the performance of a website on the front end and work together to acquire new customers. 

These technologies can also do a whole lot more than this. Take Google Analytics Measurement Protocol, for example, which allows you to measure backend elements and surface improvements directly for the business. We’re helping our clients to use this tool for everything from customer call centre measurement, to detecting errors in backend performance, and logging returns data into Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Measurement Protocol can also be used to measure and surface API errors as part of a order management system, allowing teams to automatically notify third-party suppliers when they are having issues – before they even know they have any. This can cut down the number of failed orders and improve a brand’s reviews and ratings on websites like Trustpilot. 

So, by making use of Google Analytics’ entire ecosystem of technologies, from Google Analytics Measurement Protocol to Google Analytics for Firebase, your business can measure behind-the-scenes elements to surface improvements that apply to the whole business, not just the website. Those improvements are key to providing joined-up, compelling experiences across all your customer touchpoints.

2. Joining up online and offline experiences

Google Analytics for Firebase is a technology that allows businesses to surface data from native mobile applications, which some retailers are starting to use in-store with staff devices, cash desks, or even for digital signage.

Take a look at this introduction to Google Analytics for Firebase

One common use case for companies like Zara, Nike and others is allowing in-store staff to instantly look up stock for their current and nearby stores and help the customer to find if there product is available to make a quick sale. 

Finding out what your store teams are using extensively for things like stock lookups is just as important as finding out what features are important to your customers when using your websites. 

Retail businesses can take advantage of Google Analytics for Firebase to log how often staff are using the features and provide insight to product owners on how to improve this process. Speeding up the time it takes staff to do tasks like this can result in improved staff happiness and morale, can promote the use of staff devices, and lets staff spend more time actually helping customers.

3. Automating customer reporting

Reporting is a necessary evil within business. Reporting in itself does not generate value, but it does provide a basis to make valuable decisions, and gives senior stakeholders the right information in the right format to track progress against the business goals.

When we start working with a client, one of the first things we ask them is how many days in a week they spend preparing reporting. We usually get a range from 0.5 days to two days per week. Those businesses spending more than one day a month doing reporting are prime candidates for automating their reporting; the time they spend generating their reporting could be much better spend visualising and understanding the data.


Many businesses spend a lot of time manually copying and pasting from one system to another, which is time-consuming and prone to error. Google Analytics has a number of tools, including an API that can be queried directly from places like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets, to automate the process of building reports. There are also new tools, such as Google Data Studio, which make viewing your regular reporting easy and accessible for all. 

With a little bit of extra time, it’s also possible to use Google Analytics to pull in reporting from an event within their customer service system, to provide automatic, real-time reports that are available at the push of the button in the necessary format to work with the rest of the business process.

4. Measuring refunds for the business

Ecommerce businesses use Google Analytics to learn about revenue generation and how their digital products are performing against their goals. But what many retailers don’t realise is that the free Enhanced Ecommerce feature in Google Analytics actually supports refunds as well. 

Within your Google Analytics ‘Product’ report, the feature enables you to see return data on particular product lines based on the likes of product colour and season. The report can be populated with this information using Google’s data import functionality, or again it could also be fully automated with a bit of code. 

With one customer we added this reporting into a private view that only the ecommerce manager could see. Within a few weeks we identified that one of the product lines had a really high return rate. When they queried this within the business, the warehouse wasn’t able to say why they were being returned, but their customer services team had received complaints that the product colour didn’t look like the colour on the website.  

The customer had this data available, but hadn’t queried it until it became easily accessible  via the refunds data within their Google Analytics account and could be compared to the rest of the range. A couple of hours after this discovery was made, a new image with better colour matching was added on the website and the returns rate dropped shortly afterwards.

5. Data visualisation

Data visualisation is key to making information accessible and easy to interpret. Google Data Studio, a free tool that’s currently available in beta, transforms your data into highly visual and informative reports that are easy to read, share, and customise.

It’s a great tool for enabling our clients to self-serve their own data and get to the information they really care about in a seamless way.

Check-out Google's quick introduction to Data Studio

We’re trained several project managers, account managers, and developers to use Data Studio to show the data that’s most important for them to do their jobs effectively. We’re also demonstrating how retail businesses can use the tool to create intuitive dashboards that distill the insight they need to make positive changes to the business.

Getting started on your data journey

Retail organisations can use Google Analytics to measure beyond their websites by ensuring their data is easily accessible, provides a complete picture, and is actionable and relevant.

Here we’ve explored some of the tactics we’re using with our retail clients here at Inviqa, and we’d love to hear your own views on the topic. How are you using your existing data to make informed, positive changes to your business?