Google Analytics 4

How to Use GA4 Explorations Report for E-commerce Analysis

Gary Spagnoli
July 12, 2024

While standard reports are excellent for providing a high-level overview, they can sometimes fall short when it comes to the detailed analysis needed to understand specific user behaviors. This is where Explorations reports prove invaluable. Particularly for e-commerce businesses, Explorations reports unlock a new level of analysis by allowing you to understand better your user journeys within your online store with granular detail. By using features like filtering, segmentation, and custom visualizations, Explorations enable you to identify friction points in the checkout process, analyze product performance, and optimize your conversion funnel for maximum efficiency. In this blog post, we'll explore the use of Explorations reports specifically for e-commerce analysis in GA4, guiding you through the setup process, showcasing practical examples, and demonstrating how to extract valuable insights to drive informed decisions for your e-commerce efforts.

Table of Contents  

Standard VS. Explorations Report

The Explorations reports are designed for flexible, ad-hoc analysis, allowing users to interactively explore their data, pivot, filter, and drill down to answer specific questions and discover new insights on the fly. They are particularly useful for those who want to explore their data in depth and create custom reports. In contrast, standard reports provide predefined, structured insights with a set of predefined metrics and dimensions for common analysis needs. They are easier for beginners to use and are ideal for getting a quick overview of data, understanding performance, comparing different metrics and dimensions, and sharing reports with others.

Types of reports you can build in GA4 Explorations Reports

There are 7 types of exploration techniques you can use based on your needs. We'll save a detailed explanation of each technique for a future blog post. For now, here's a brief overview.

Free-form exploration

In this technique you can analyze your data in a cross-tabulation format or use different visualizations, such as bar graphs, pie charts, line plots, scatter diagrams, and geographical maps.

Cohort exploration

In this technique, you can get insights about how groups of users with shared characteristics behave and perform to gain valuable insights.

Funnel exploration

In this technique, you Visualize the user journey in completing tasks on your website or app, and discover ways to enhance user experience while identifying audiences that may be either over- or under-performing.

Segment overlap

This technique explores the connections between various user groups and employs this method to pinpoint new user segments that meet complex criteria.

User exploration

In this technique, you can take a closer look at the users within the segments you generate or import. You can also delve into the specific activities of individual users.

Path exploration

In this technique, you can track the journey your users take as they interact with your website and app. It graphically represents the routes your users follow while engaging with your website and app.

User lifetime

In this technique, you learn to understand how your customers use your products and services over time.

Getting to grips with the dashboard setup

GA4 Explore reports use the same format, tools and structure, some may differ from the other as some have additional features, but all of them should have these three sections.

1. Variables 

This section allows the initial setup of the report, from choosing the right dimensions and metrics, to setting up the date range, adding segments as well as this is where you give a name to your report.

2. Tab Settings/Settings

Once Variables are set, it’s now time to plot those data with the use of the features from the Tab Settings section. This is where you can add those dimensions and metrics you chose from the variables settings. This section also allows you to trim down the data from the report by applying filter conditions. 

3. Report View

This is simply the section where you report will appear.

E-commerce Analysis with Explorations Reports

Understanding your product performance is essential for any e-commerce business.  GA4's Exploration Reports specifically Funnel report can be a powerful tool to help you optimize your sales strategy. Here's a step-by-step guide of how you can use it:

Setting Up a Funnel Report in GA4:

  1. Go to the "Explore" section within GA4.
  2. Select "Funnel exploration" from the available exploration types.
  3. Choose the events that represent each stage of your purchase funnel. Common steps include:some text
    • View product: User views a product page.
    • Add to cart: Users add a product to their shopping cart.
    • Checkout: User initiates the checkout process.
    • Purchase: User completes the purchase.

4. Add Breakdowns by product category, product name or product ID, or other relevant dimensions to gain deeper insights. 1) Adding Dimensions from the Variables section 2) Using those dimensions as Breakdown dimensions.

By analyzing these reports, you can gain specific insights and a better understanding of your e-commerce data. This in-depth analysis helps you identify friction points in your sales funnel, such as where potential customers are dropping off during the checkout process. By pinpointing these areas, you can implement targeted improvements to streamline the user experience and increase conversion rates. Additionally, the reports provide valuable information about your product performance, allowing you to see which products are popular, which ones are underperforming, and where there might be opportunities for optimization. This comprehensive understanding enables you to make informed decisions to enhance your e-commerce strategy and drive business growth.

Another method: Segmentation also helps provide insights in your e-commerce performance. Here’s how - create a new Exploration (or use existing one). 

1. Click on the "Segments" section in the left-hand panel. Here, you can create a new segment based on your specific needs.

2. GA4 offers a variety of options for segmenting your data. You can base your segment on user attributes (e.g., location, device), session characteristics (e.g., campaign source), or event interactions (e.g., product purchase).

Here are some examples of e-commerce-focused segments you can create:

  • Consider High-Value Customers -  Define users who have spent over a certain amount within a specific timeframe.
  • Look at Mobile App Purchasers -  Segment users who have completed purchases within your mobile app.
  • Capture Cart Abandoners - Identify users who added items to their carts but didn't complete the checkout process.

Or you can use some of the predefined/prebuilt segments provided. 

3. Once you've defined your segment criteria, click "Save" to add it to your exploration.

4. In the "Variables”, choose the relevant metrics (e.g., revenue, conversion rate) and dimensions (e.g., product category, brand) to analyze your e-commerce data.

5. Drag and drop the chosen metrics and dimensions into the Settings to generate a report. With your segment applied, you'll see the data specific to that user group.

6. Use the visualizations to understand how your chosen segment interacts with your e-commerce store. You can add additional segments for comparison or refine your initial segment criteria for deeper insights.

By following these steps and leveraging segments, you can also gain valuable insights into your e-commerce performance within GA4's Explorations reports. 


What are some key metrics and dimensions to analyze in Explorations for e-commerce?

Metrics: Revenue, conversion rate, items sold, purchase revenue by product/category.
Dimensions: Product name, brand, product category, landing page, traffic source, device type.

Can I compare different marketing channels for e-commerce performance in Explorations?

Yes, use segments or comparisons to analyze how different channels (e.g., organic search, paid advertising) drive traffic and conversions.

How can Explorations help me identify abandoned carts and improve checkout processes?

Create a segment for users who abandon carts and analyze their behavior. Review your Funnel report to see where they drop off and identify potential friction points in the checkout process.

Can I track coupon code usage in Explorations?

Yes, you can use custom dimensions to track coupon codes associated with purchases. This allows you to analyze the effectiveness of different promotions and identify popular coupons within Explorations.

Is it possible to track user behavior based on product browsing in Explorations?

While GA4 doesn't natively track specific product views, you can achieve similar insights with custom events. For example, track events when users click on a product image or add a product to a wishlist. This allows you to analyze user interest in specific products within Explorations.

Here are some things you can do with your Exploration reports.

Sharing and exporting Explorations reports

Exporting a report

To save a copy of the report, click the Download icon in the upper right corner of the page. A dropdown menu will appear with the available formats. Select the format you want and the report will be downloaded to your computer.

Note: When you export to Sheets, TSV, or CSV formats, all the data available in the selected visualization is exported. This may be more data than is currently displayed. When you export to PDF, only the data currently displayed in the visualization is saved.

Sharing an exploration report 

If you need to share the report to someone within your organization, on the upper right corner of the page beside the export icon, you click on the Share exploration icon. 

Please take note of these important notes when sharing:

  • To share an exploration, you must have at least an Analyst role in the property.
  • Shared explorations can be viewed, but not edited, by anyone who has the Viewer role to the property. You must duplicate or copy a shared exploration in order to edit it.

Final Word

In conclusion, leveraging Exploration Reports in GA4 offers e-commerce businesses an effective tool for gaining deeper insights and understanding user behavior. By understanding  user journeys, analyzing product performance, and evaluating the effectiveness of promotions, these reports help identify areas for improvement,  optimize your conversion funnel and help you make data-driven decisions. By using these techniques and combining it with your current marketing strategies, you'll be better equipped to drive growth and success for your online store. Stay tuned for future blog posts where we'll dive deeper into each exploration technique and provide more detailed examples to help you maximize the benefits of GA4 Exploration Reports.

Thanks for reading!

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