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How To Create A Meaningful Ecommerce Analytics Dashboard: A Step-by-step Guide

How To Create A Meaningful Ecommerce Analytics Dashboard: A Step-by-step Guide

Are you drowning in a huge amount of e-commerce data? There’s no other way to escape it if you want your e-commerce store to succeed. However, you can make analyzing your data much more enjoyable and effective. The key is to present e-commerce data analytics visually.

Data visualization plays a big role in data-driven decision-making. It helps your business more easily understand complex information and make informed decisions based on its insights by transforming raw data into actionable intelligence.  In the past three years, 68% of enterprises have increased their investments in data visualization. And thanks to modern data visualization tools, 72% of businesses report they can access insights faster.

In this article, we’ll learn more about data visualization and essential eCommerce dashboards. Our analytics expert explains how to build one in any BI tool. Just keep reading!  

Key Takeaways:

  • eCommerce analytics provide valuable insights into your online store, enabling you to make informed business decisions. However, when focusing on specific metrics, most analytics platforms can overwhelm you with data. Analytics dashboards can help you streamline this process, allowing you to access the precise insights you need.
  • eCommerce analytics dashboards allow converting complex data into easy-to-read graphs, pie charts, trend tracking, and tables. The data can be organized into logical groupings for better readability.

Table of Contents:

  1. What’s the Problem with eCommerce Data?
  2. Why Do You Need an eCommerce Dashboard?
  3. 3 Questions to Ask in Planning Your Analytics Dashboard
  4. KPIs & Metrics to Include in Your eCommerce Dashboard
  5. How to Create Meaningful Analytics Dashboards: A Step-by-step Guide
  6. Data Analytics with Looker (Data) Studio
  7. Say “No” to Scattered Insights and “Yes!” to Analytics Dashboards

What’s the Problem with eCommerce Data?

Nowadays, digital platforms offer instant access to data that can be collected and analyzed. eCommerce platforms generate massive amounts of data daily. As an online store owner, you might think that having a variety of data makes it easier to spot ideas and trends. In reality, this vast amount of data often complicates your analytics.

eCommerce data involves complex relationships between products, customers, categories, and time. Getting a comprehensive and clear view of all the important metrics in one place is quite challenging. Sure, your platform can display ecommerce site and sales data, but it won’t necessarily include information on how your marketing campaign is performing, for example.

Ecommerce retailers often struggle to handle large amounts of data because it can be complex and hard to interpret. Extracting useful insights from your site’s analytics is challenging unless you study each chart and table for many hours.

Here comes data visualization, transforming dull text that takes hours to understand into engaging insights we can grasp in seconds with the help of charts, graphs, shapes, and other visual formats. Research shows visual information makes up 90% of the data processed by the brain, making data visualization crucial for marketing efforts. 

By addressing these challenges with appropriate visualization tools such as dashboards, eCommerce businesses can enhance their data analysis capabilities, leading to better insights and informed decision-making. What about other benefits? Let’s find out. 

Why Do You Need an eCommerce Dashboard?

Let’s dive deep into key advantages for “You”:

  • You can visualize data 

Ask yourself: “How can I efficiently oversee all aspects of my online store without wasting valuable time whenever I need to access important data?” The answer is below. Data visualization is a boost in marketing analytics that clearly shows business growth. It allows your team to transform extensive data into actionable insights. 

  • You will have one source of truth

You don’t need to observe different metrics separately for each platform. Collecting data into a single dashboard allows you to observe all data in one place by instantly getting a complete view of your performance. 

  • You can get an advanced custom solution 

Don’t limit yourself to just a simple dashboard. Ecommerce retailers have an exclusive opportunity to create advanced dashboards tailored to their business challenges.

  • You will make decisions faster and smarter 

Data-driven decisions are crucial for e-commerce because growing your E-commerce store involves making numerous overwhelming decisions. Analytics dashboards give you an overview of different metrics and KPIs. Just by looking at your screen, you can understand what’s happening in a particular department in a second.

3 Questions to Ask in Planning Your Analytics Dashboard

Before creating an eCommerce data dashboard, consider identifying several key details to ensure its success. We advise you to think about these three questions.

  1. What goals have you set up? Firstly, clarify what exactly you want to achieve. Is it sales performance, marketing effectiveness, or user behavior? Conduct an analysis to ensure your dashboard will generate actionable insights that support your business objectives. This will also assist you in determining the layout and visual elements of your data dashboard. Start by defining the purpose of your data dashboard. Document your eCommerce analytics goals to guide the rest of your data dashboard plan.
  2. Which analytics platform do you want to use? Secondly, conduct research to decide on the analytics platform to utilize. There are a huge amount of different platforms in the analytics market, such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Shopify Analytics, and others. Just look into their functionality and choose the one that fits your goals.  
  3. What should you be tracking? Finally, determine the metrics you want to track and measure as a business, depending on the goals you set up and the type of data you need. Numerous metrics are available for monitoring, and selecting the right ones can be confusing. Sales metrics emphasize operating and enhancing an ecommerce store, managing online sales and payments, and boosting revenue. User experience metrics focus on how customers use and engage with your product, the performance, and speed of service, optimizing service across different devices and platforms, and site traffic. Paid advertising metrics express how effectively your paid advertising campaign attracts visitors.

There are plenty of metrics, as we mentioned before; below, we highlight metrics to start tracking in your dashboard.

Need more recommendations on Data Visualization?

KPIs & Metrics to Include in Your eCommerce Dashboard

We recommend you track these metrics in your dashboard:

  • Purchase Revenue (shows the total amount of revenue generated from online purchases made on your website);
  • eCommerce Conversion Rate (indicates the percentage of website visitors who made a purchase out of the total number of visitors);
  • Lifetime Value (highlights the total revenue an organization earns from a customer over the entire duration of their relationship);
  • Profit Margins (the percentage of profit remaining after deducting the cost of goods sold and advertising expenses; they can be detailed by product and order);
  • Average Order Value (indicates the average amount of money a customer spends per transaction);
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (the cost incurred by online stores to acquire a new customer);
  • Return on Ad Spend (shows the return percentage an online business generates from its advertising expenses and evaluates the effectiveness of your ad campaigns);
  • Bounce Rate (indicates the percentage of visitors who leave your website without viewing another page);
  • Top Channels (identify the most revenue-generating channels);
  • Inventory Velocity (measures the number of days it takes for the remaining inventory to be depleted);
  • Top Customers & Segments (highlight Insights into who your best customers are, where they come from, and what they buy).

After finishing your planning, you can start with building your dashboard. Keep reading to explore our step-by-step guide that will walk you through the processes.

How to Create Meaningful Analytics Dashboards: A Step-by-step Guide

Several months ago, the VIDEN team finished building an internal BI style guide that includes an algorithm for creating a dashboard. Our expert, Maksim Perapialitsa, shares an expanded version of this algorithm that includes step-by-step instruction on how to create a dashboard in any BI tool. By following these steps, you can build a universal dashboard that can also be used for eCommerce.

A. Pre-production

The following set of steps is crucial for reporting project success since if you ignore your user needs, you might waste a lot of resources and end up with dashboards that will never be opened. Generally, the amount of time and resources that you can allocate for this step depends on your internal business processes, but it is recommended to allocate as much time as you need for the pre-production steps since usually reworking the entire dashboard will require much more time than pre-production steps.

Step 1: Gather requirements

The first thing to do is carefully read the request and extract key basic information. Examples of such information are the dashboard purpose, data sources, date ranges, entities, metrics, and dimensions.

Then, request additional information about the client and its business, e.g., client brief if applicable.

Using the received information, create a questionnaire to gather dashboard requirements. Some of the questions to ask:

  • What is the main question the dashboard should answer?
  • What is the core metric used to measure your success?
  • What criteria do you use to judge your own performance?
  • Who will use the dashboard, how often, and for what purpose?

One important note: Before conducting an interview, invest time in identifying all stakeholders and decision makers because you may end up with situations where the real decision maker will be involved only at the end of the project, and she or he can have a completely different project vision. The trickiest part here is that you can end up with multiple important stakeholders. In this case, you have to find a way to create a dashboard without turning it into Frankenstein.

Check out a good article about the topic: Want to fail your dashboard? Ask Everyone by Aurélien Vautier.

You may think about creating your own or using an already existing questionnaire. Here are some great examples:

In general, by the end of this step, you have to have a clear understanding of:

  • Purpose of the dashboard ;
  • End users of the dashboard, maybe you managed to create personas;
  • Project feasibility;
  • Timing expectations (deadlines are set realistically);
  • Technical stack and its limitations;
  • Data which should be reported and its limitations;
  • Success criterias of the project if applicable;
  • Need in dashboard post-production support

It can be also useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there any contradictions between the requirements and resources or even between the requirements themselves?
  • Is creating the dashboard even necessary, or can the customer’s problem be solved in a different and more suitable way?

Step 2: Make sure that you have all the accesses you needed

This is pretty straightforward but sometimes can be tricky and time-consuming, especially for agencies.

Step 3: Prepare data

This step will not be covered here since it is a data engineering field, but of course correct work of data pipelines is essential for any dashboard. This also includes data quality-related activities.

Step 4: Create a wireframe of the dashboard

You can start by gathering all entities, metrics, and dimensions that should be reported. Then, it is recommended to make sure that they are compatible with each other for cases when they should be reported together (e.g. filtered). You can also break them down into meaningful groups to make the wireframing process easier. Additionally, you can segregate the most important entities, metrics, and dimensions to highlight them further across the dashboard.

You can wireframe using whatever tool is most convenient for you (even pen and paper). I prefer Miro; it is perfect for such purposes. Create high-level blocks of your dashboard. You can use chart placeholders or dummy data, and charts can be black and white. The main idea is to create a high-level design of the whole dashboard and distribute wisely requested content across it.

After creating a mockup, share it with the dashboard customer, discuss it, gather feedback, and update the mockup if any changes should be made. You may have to repeat this step multiple times, but ultimately, it saves you and your customer time since these edits sooner or earlier will come to you and at this stage, they can be relatively easily applied.

Important note: Please make sure that your customer understands that it is just a prototype, not the final product. If you do not say this explicitly, in 99% of cases, you will be asked about this, or your customer will conduct a detailed review, thinking that it is a final product, which is even worse. It also makes sense to say that in this iteration, only one aspect (e.g., layout) will be discussed to make communication more effective.

One of the benefits of wireframing is that you can easily change your layout without reworking an already existing dashboard. Sometimes, it can take hours to do this, and with a wireframe, it can be done within minutes. Additionally, it is much harder to accept the fact that you wasted so much time creating a dashboard, and now you have to rework it; with wireframes, you can easily experiment without remorse.

Some great resources about wireframing:

You may think that it is too much for just one dashboard and in some cases it is! For example you can create a template for repeated requests. You can customize the pre-production set of steps whatever suits you. The main idea is that dashboards shouldn’t be created without any clear purpose just for the sake of data visualization. This applies to the content of the dashboard too.

B. Execution

Step 5: Create a dashboard in your BI tool

Well, by this moment you already have all needed information and all that remains to be done is to execute. This step is highly dependent on the tool that you use for reporting but there are some universal points worthy of attention.

  1. Use the following Gestalt principles to configure the dashboard layout: Proximity, Similarity, Enclosure, Closure, Continuity, and Connection. More about this: Gestalt Principles in Data Visualization by Anastasiya Kuznetsova.
  2. Consider using C.R.A.P. principles of graphic design developed by Robin Williams for the same purpose: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.
  3. Consider using Z, F or any other user attention patterns to place the most important content strategically.
  4. Consider placing content depending on data granularity from most aggregated (e.g., scorecards) at the top to most granular at the bottom (e.g., tables).
  5. Consider organizing content into meaningful blocks. Consider using metric maps to do this and additionally add relevant context to your KPIs reporting.
  6. Consider maximizing the data-ink ratio by reducing the amount of virtual ink spent on non-data elements. More about this: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by  Edward Tufte.
  7. Consider creating a consistent system of spacing and padding.
  8. Consider creating a consistent and predictable system of fonts and font sizes to build a conscious content hierarchy.
  9. Use color strategically to emphasize what is really important. Check out great materials on this topic created by Lisa Charlotte Muth.
  10. Integrate accessibility best practices into your dashboard, e.g., you can use color-blind palettes.
  11. Choose a chart that corresponds to your goal. There are tons of chart choosers on the internet; I will name one of my favorites, created by Data to Viz.
  12. Consider adding notes and pop up messages about data, metrics, contact information, etc. Add a link to the feedback form.
  13. Finally consider creating a style guide to put this and other related information together and make it accessible across your organization.

There seem to be a lot of rules but you don’t have to blindly follow them. Ultimately, I like the expression, “You have to know rules to break them”. The main point is that no element should be put randomly, and you can reasonably explain why you made such decisions.

C. Post-production

Step 6: Publish the dashboard

  • Use a checklist before publication: Consider creating your own publication checklist or using an existing one. This step is mostly dependent on the processes in your organization. In some organizations, dashboards undergo an internal review procedure.
  • Use version control: name the published dashboard version and add notes if your tool allows this.

Step 7: Update and monitor

  • Share the dashboard with your customer, gather their feedback, and iterate.
  • Consider implementing tracking usage of the dashboard and setting up error altering if it is available.
  • Monitor dashboard usage.
  • Ask your users about their experience with the dashboard and whether they encountered any difficulties while using it. Use this information to improve your dashboard.

Creating meaningful analytics dashboards involves a systematic approach. By leveraging Looker (Data) Studio, you can harness powerful data analytics capabilities to build interactive and insightful dashboards that help to enhance your data-driven strategies.

Data Analytics with Looker (Data) Studio

Looker Studio helps you unlock the power of your data with interactive dashboards to make decisions smarter. 

Examples of Ecommerce Dashboard

What exactly can you get? 

  • Website performance. Monitor user flow, engagement, and conversions to optimize performance. 
  • User behavior performance. Explore user behavior patterns, preferences, and pain points to improve your user experience.
  • Product performance. Dive into actionable insights on sales trends, customer tastes, and inventory levels.  
  • Funnel performance. Identify opportunities and bottlenecks in your sales and marketing funnels.  

And more… By utilizing Looker (Data) Studio, you can transform your data into coherent and actionable insights.

Say “No” to Scattered Insights and “Yes!” to Analytics Dashboards

Looking for a way to make your data work for you? Explore the power of Google Data Studio.

Contact the VIDEN experts to get your analytics dashboard and transform data into impactful metrics with smart ga4 reports.

 

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