Is Segment a good customer data platform (CDP) for ecommerce? We hear that question a lot at Littledata, and are always happy to chat about the modern data stack.

But the reality is that you should be asking more detailed questions: will your CDP be able to handle both anonymous browsers ("visitors") and customers ("users")?  Will it enable both analysis and marketing automation? Will you need an entirely different stack to support your data warehouse?

Our DTC ecommerce customers have found Segment to be a powerful solution because it offers a unified approach to customer data. As long as it's set up correctly, that is.

Four options for user identity

There are many different approaches to user identity, but the most important thing is to be consistent. Make sure the identifier you choose works with your current data destinations and those you know you plan to implement in the future.

In Segment, every identify call must have a User ID or an Anonymous ID. Littledata's Shopify source for Segment is an easy way to ensure accurate ecommerce data, rather than building and maintaining the schema yourself to match Segment's detailed ecommerce spec. Our scope includes sales, marketing, and customer data, captured from a combination of client-side and server-side tracking.

We agree with Segment's best practices in identifying users, including the use of static IDs whenever possible. To support a broader range of use cases, our app lets you choose which of the following fields you want to send as the userId for known customers:

  • Shopify customer ID (default) – Recommended if you have a simple Shopify setup with minimal integrations.
  • Hashed email – The MD5 email hash is useful if you have other marketing platforms sending traffic where you know the email of the visitor (e.g. email marketing like Bronto or Marketo), but not their Shopify customer ID.
  • Email – Recommended when other platforms use the email and can’t hash it, and you are comfortable with the privacy implications.
  • None (no identifier) – Recommended only if user identity is already handled by your Segment implementation and you only need the extra events powered by Littledata’s Shopify source.

Learn more about what you can track with our Segment connection.

Since we started offering identifier options beyond Shopify customer ID earlier this quarter, it's been interesting to see the uptake. Perhaps most surprising is that it's not just larger stores on Littledata Plus who are using alternative unique IDs. There are already merchants on our Standard and Pro plans using the option as well.

Note: For merchants using Segment Personas, Littledata also sends shopify_customer_id as an External ID for advanced matching

What is your approach to user identity? Are you planning for the future? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.