GDPR compliance for ecommerce businesses

Ecommerce companies typically store lots of personally identifiable information (PII), so how can you make compliance easier without compromising analysis? With the deadline for GDPR compliance looming, I wanted to expand on my previous article on GDPR and Google Analytics to focus on ecommerce. Firstly, who does this apply to? GDPR is European Union legislation that applies to any company trading in Europe: so if you sell online and deliver to European Union member countries, the regulations apply to you. It's essential that you understand how your online business is collecting and storing PII. Splitting PII from anonymous data points Your goal should be to maintain two separate data stores: one that contains customer details, from where you can look up what a specific customer bought, and one that contains anonymous data points, from where you can see performance and trends. The data store for the customer details will typically be your ecommerce back-end and/or CRM (see below). This will include name, email, address, purchase history, etc. It will link those with a customer number and orders numbers. If a customer wants the right of access all the relevant details should be in this store. We use Google Analytics as the anonymous data store (although you may have a different ecommerce analytics platform). There you can store data which only refers to the customer record. These are called pseudo-anonymous data points under GDPR: they are only identifiable to a customer if you can link the customer number or order number back to your ecommerce back-end. Pseudo-anonymous data points you can safely send to Google Analytics include: Order number / transaction ID Order value / transaction amount Tax & shipping Product names and quantities Customer number Hashed email address (possibly a more flexible to link back to the customer record) If a customer exercises their right to removal, removing them from the ecommerce back-end will be sufficient. You do not also have to remove them from your Google Analytics, since the order number and customer number now have nothing to refer to. You do still need due process to ensure access to Google Analytics is limited, as in extreme circumstances a combination of dimensions such as products, country / city and browser, could identify the customer. Isn’t it simpler to just have one store? Every extra data store you maintain increases the risk of data breaches and complexity of compliance – so why not just analyse a single customer data store? I can think of three reasons not to do so: Marketing agencies (and other third parties) need access to the ecommerce conversion data, but not the underlying customer data Removing a customer’s order history on request would impact your historic revenue and purchase volumes – not desirable Your CRM / ecommerce platform is not built for large scale analysis: it may lack the tools, speed and integrations needed to get meaningful insights Beware of accidental transfers There are a few danger areas where you may inadvertently be sending PII data to Google Analytics: Customer emails captured in a signup event A customised product name – e.g. ‘engraving for Edward Upton’ Address or name captured in a custom dimension Our PII audit check is a quick, free way to make sure that’s not happening. Multiple stores of customer details GDPR compliance becomes difficult when your customer record is fragmented across multiple data stores. For example, you may have product and order information in your ecommerce database, with further customer contact details in a CRM. The simplest advice is to set up automatic two-way integrations between the data stores, so updating the CRM updates the ecommerce platform and visa-versa. Removing customer records from one system should remove them from the other. If that’s not possible, then you need clear processes to update both systems when customer details change, so you can comply with the right to rectification. Conclusion GDPR compliance need not require changing analytics tools or databases, just a clear process for separating out personally identifiable information – and training for the staff involved in handing that data. I hope this brief overview has been helpful. For further advice on how your ecommerce systems comply, please contact us for a free consultation. Littledata has experience with every major analytics platform and a wide range of custom setups. However, as a number of global companies are concurrently prepping for compliance, we highly recommend that you get in touch sooner rather than later!

2018-02-13

How to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site

Are you following a strategy to increase ecommerce site traffic, or are you shooting in the dark? In this guest post, Courtney McGhee outlines proven ways to get more web visitors. So you’ve created your ecommerce site and you’ve set up your social media profiles. Why isn’t your audience flocking to your site, cash in hand? The truth is, creating your website and social presence is only the first step toward generating traffic. Your strategies on these platforms will ultimately determine the amount of traffic that lands on your pages. You need to invest time, create relationships and sometimes even invest some money if you want to boost your numbers. In this guide, I'll show you proven ways to drive ecommerce site traffic. Step 1: Decide how many daily visitors you need Setting a clear, attainable goal should be the first step if you want to increase your traffic. Marketing strategies can be overwhelming if you don’t first determine what your goal should be. First, decide how much annual revenue you are looking to earn. Let’s look at the example of $350,000. Next, divide your total annual sales by the value of your average order. Let’s say your average order costs $50. This calculation gives you the number of annual orders you will need to reach your sales goal. For our example, that number would be 7000, or about 19 orders each day. Let’s realistically assume that 19 orders per day come from a conversion rate of 2%. That means you will need around 960 daily visitors if you are going to have 19 orders each day. These numbers will show you how much time you need to spend on generating traffic and can help you set attainable and measurable goals. Once you've decided on the amount of traffic you're shooting for, make sure your Google Analytics setup is giving you accurate data about all of your websites (including microsites) and isn't duplicating visitors. You'll also want to set up goals for specific events, such as when a customer adds items to their cart, signs up for your email list or completes a checkout. It's better to set up this tracking early before launching your new strategy--otherwise you won't know whether or not your new strategy worked! Step 2: Start your search engine optimization (SEO) Search engines are (or should be) one of the biggest sources of your traffic. Now, it’s time to milk them for all they’re worth. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a main focus to drive organic traffic to your site. Whether or not you have just launched your ecommerce store, you should make a habit of reviewing each page and product on your site. To do this, you need to start an SEO audit. Enter your URL on an SEO tool like WooRank, and start an Advanced Review. You can add up to three competitors here to take your SEO up a notch. Add keywords you want to track in the Keyword Tool, and choose the location where you want to focus on. In the keyword tool, you will be able to see the volume and rank for each keyword and how you are doing against your competition. There are plenty of free keyword research tools available if you aren’t sure which ones you should be targeting. Now that you have chosen your keywords to use for optimization efforts, you should make sure you are using them in a consistent and natural way. Using them in your title tags, meta descriptions and body content will help you become more visible to your target audience. To really optimize your keyword strategy, I recommend setting up site-search tracking to see what visitors are searching for on your site and also monitoring how keywords convert on your site by adding Search Console to your Google Analytics account before moving onto the next step. Step 3: Craft your content...carefully Even for an ecommerce site, it is essential to have useful, relevant and authoritative content. Of course, it is critical to have product images, but product descriptions will really help you boost your traffic. With product descriptions, you can weave in the keywords you can easily rank for that can also drive conversions. It’s actually easier to rank higher for long tail, localized keywords that will align with your visitors’ search queries. If you are selling garden supplies and you can rank highly for “planter for tomatoes”, the produce descriptions should use “planter for tomatoes”. Include that phrase in the title, as well. The product images need to be clear and representative of the actual product you are selling. Don’t forget to include the alt text with every image you use. This should go without saying, but don’t use images you downloaded from the internet that aren’t pictures of what you are actually selling. Also, you can create content like product reviews or comparisons of different brands and models that are optimized for “planter for tomatoes”. You can experiment with other types of content on social media, like videos, that can help you rank highly on search results. Videos related to the product that can also be embedded on your site is another easy way to incorporate your keywords in your content. Step 4: Tap into social media influencers In terms of brand engagement, Instagram is one of the best platforms. There is a whopping 25% more engagement on Instagram compared to other social media platforms. Also, studies show that nearly 25% of online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations. In order to tap into the influencer market, you need to find the people who are willing to feature your products to their many followers. Finding those people, though, is easier said than done. A tool like WEBSTA can help you find the most popular Instagram hashtags and accounts. Once you find the influencer with a substantial amount of followers that aligns with your general category, you can contact him or her and ask for your product to be featured. Step 5: Entice visitors with contests Let’s be honest: everyone loves a good freebie. Does your site have a gift that your customers will find worthwhile? Use your social media profiles, your website and your influencers to get the word out that you are having a contest for free goodies. If your potential customers think your gift is valuable, they will share it with their friends and families. The only con to this strategy is attracting people who are only interested in free stuff. These users will likely never convert to customers, so use this option only when it makes sense for your brand. Step 6: Publish user reviews Search Engine Land noted that 88% of shoppers trust reviews they read online. You can encourage your users to leave reviews on your website and social media accounts. Reviews will help you rank higher in search results, and users are more likely to click on your site/social media pages. User reviews ensure fresh, relevant content - a big plus in Google’s eyes. Here are some more stats from Econsultancy on why user reviews are so valuable: Bad reviews improve conversions by 67% 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a website with user reviews Reviews generate an average boost in sales of 18% Step 7: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising At least 43% of ecommerce traffic, on average, comes from Google search (organic). But, more than a quarter of traffic is coming from Google AdWords, according to Wolfgang Digital. So, it’s important to have both your SEO and PPC set up correctly. As mentioned above, during your keyword research find the keyword your audience uses most, like “tomato planters”. This includes the long tail keywords, too, like “best planters for tomatoes”. Now, run a PPC campaign including both keywords. Primary keywords will generate more traffic, while long tail keywords will drive less traffic but higher conversion rates. To increase conversions even more, you can link your AdWords account to your Analytics account, then use Buyer Personas for specific marketing channels to target those users that are more likely to spend money on your site. So, are you ready for real growth? Bringing traffic to your ecommerce sites all starts with setting a clearly-defined goal. You need to know where your existing traffic is coming from, and optimize all of your platforms for your visitors and search engine bots. Incorporating other strategies, when done correctly, will help you bring more eyes to your site. Contests and PPC advertising are great ways to get your product in front of your target audience. I hope this guide helps take your online store to the next level! Courtney McGhee is on the Marketing Team at WooRank, an SEO audit tool that has helped millions of websites with their SEO efforts. A former journalist in North Carolina, Courtney shifted gears and entered the digital marketing world in Brussels, Belgium.

2018-02-08

How to improve AdWords retargeting using ecommerce checkout steps

In the ecommerce world, one of the smartest ways to improve ROI for marketing campaigns is to retarget customers who visited your website in the first place. These visitors are already in the market for the types of products that you sell, but how do you pull them back if they've dropped out of the checkout process? The most effective way to grab these customers is to target them based on where they dropped off. Luckily, Google lets you do exactly that: with the right analytics, you can set up retargeting campaigns based on checkout behaviour. At Littledata we've helped online stores in over 50 countries to improve marketing ROI using ecommerce tracking. In this post I share three simple steps you can take to improve your AdWords retargeting based on ecommerce checkout behaviour. 1. Set up accurate product tracking for your store Enhance Ecommerce tracking has been available from Google Analytics for a couple of years now. If you're already using this Google Analytics feature, good for you! Having product data means you can take advantage of this and create Audiences that then can be shared with AdWords (and other platforms). In order to improve AdWords retargeting using checkout steps, you must have checkout tracking and Enhanced Ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics. Then you can follow this checklist to set up accurate product tracking that can be used for Audiences in AdWords. Check out this resource (or share it with your lead developer): Google's Guide to Measuring a Checkout Repeat after me: "The fields must by dynamically populated! This is important!" Clarify where the checkout process starts and ends on your website (and again, if your developer is handling the setup make sure they're clear about each stage in your checkout funnel, including where  the process starts and stops) Set up checkout tracking based on that process Once this data is successfully coming into Google Analytics, you're ready to create Audiences and share them with AdWords At this point, it's important to mention that there are a lot of elements to Enhanced Ecommerce tracking and each part needs to be set up separately. For example, you will not automatically be tracking product categories, listings and details. If you're not sure how to implement the full extent of Enhanced Ecommerce, we're here to help. If you're using the Shopify platform, you're in luck, as our Shopify reporting app's audit feature checks for accurate product and checkout-step tracking, and automatically assists with setting these up for you. The app works directly with the Google Analytics setup for your Shopify store, so you don't have to deal with Shopify's native reporting, which doesn't let you see how users are progressing through the checkout process. 2. Analyse customer behaviour, including checkout steps Shopping cart abandonment is the most frequent complaint we hear from ecommerce marketers. Why does someone add products to their shopping cart and then just abandon it completely? This isn't common in brick-and-mortar stores, so why does it happen so often online? Remember that online shoppers don't want to leave those things behind. They were attracted to those products and have expressed the desire to buy. But with a bad checkout flow, too much information or too little, they'll fly away and leave behind only unloved products with high shipping costs or under-promoted benefits. One of the best Enhanced Ecommerce use cases is the Checkout Behaviour report. This is essentially a Shopping Cart Abandonment report, showing weaknesses in your checkout process and where to invest your time and money to convince users that have added-to-cart to go ahead and complete a purchase. Why is this important and relevant to AdWords? Well, everything in marketing is about perspective. The above report doesn't only show you where you could improve your checkout flow, but also where you've lost customers. 'Lost' is the key word here. If you're losing a significant percentage of customers at the shipping stage of your checkout process, this is an opportunity to improve - and to market those improvements using AdWords. For example, you might look at that report and ask yourself: Are you charging customers too much for shipping? You can't really change that cost for all carts (we know that shipping costs are significant) but you could, for example, offer free shipping to shoppers with items in their cart over some profitability margin. Retargeting those users in Google AdWords is an effective way to show them that you're ready to reward them for making large purchases from your online store. Are you limiting yourself to too few territories? Put your analysts to work to find out where customers that leave the purchase flow want their goods to be delivered. Can you extend your logistical capabilities, or do you have a brick-and-mortar store nearby where you can direct these shoppers? Use AdWords retargeting to let them know. Of course, Google Analytics' native reports aren't for everyone. If you find them confusing or haven't worked extensively with enhanced ecommerce data, check out Littledata's report packs. These automated reports are an easy but comprehensive way to read and interpret ecommerce data without any hassle. For the purposes of tracking checkout steps to improve retargeting, I'd recommend our Ecommerce behaviour pack, which includes reports on shopping behaviour by marketing channel and checkout steps. 3. Set up retargeting campaigns based on that data How do you retarget users in AdWords based on Google Analytics data? Fear not, my brave colleagues! If you've made it to this step, you shouldn't have any trouble creating powerful retargeting campaigns. First you'll need to create a new Audience. In your Google Analytics Admin, find Audience Definitions in the middle of the screen near the bottom. Click on New Audience. Click on Create New and on this screen go to Conditions and Filter Users to Include the steps you want to target with this Audience. Set the Shopping Stage to contain (equal) 'Checkout_Abandonment' or 'Checkout_1', 'Checkout_2', etc. - wherever your customers have been falling off and leaving a basket full of goodies without completing the purchase. (Note that this field is auto-completed, so give GA a second after you start typing to show the options here.) You'll then need to set a time period. Think about your specific business and how far back you want to go with the search. Once you're happy with your selection, pick which Google AdWords account you'll want to link to this new Audience. That's it! You're now ready to run PPC promotions to a buy-ready audience that would otherwise have disappeared. I hope you've enjoyed this quick guide. Please drop me a line below and let me know how you use checkout steps in relation to AdWords. I always love to hear how other specialists in the field combine platforms to create perfect marketing. PRO TIP: If you're in a country with Google Merchant available, you can benefit from dynamic remarketing. This does take some extra setup on the product level, so let us know if you have specific questions. (And stay tuned - we're planning some Google Merchant Center-related posts for the near future.)

2018-02-06

Treasure hunting tools for Shopify stores (VIDEO)

These days, you can sell just about anything online. From subscription boxes to charities, everyone is using websites and mobile apps to enhance the customer journey. But even if you advertise on the right channels, how do you know if your marketing is working? And how do you connect that traffic to revenue? Watch this quick video to see how the right analytics setup will help you avoid getting shipwrecked on the seas of ecommerce, whatever you might be 'selling' online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE4nzZycVLE Google Analytics can take you much deeper than Shopify’s native reporting, but setting it up correctly is difficult without the right tools. Littledata gives growing Shopify stores a clear map of shopper behaviour, from marketing campaigns -- how people find you -- to the intricacies of buying behaviour: what customers buy, how they buy it, and who will want to buy more. Our Shopify reporting app automatically audits your Google Analytics setup to make sure you’re tracking everything you should be, and tracking it correctly. We give you accurate data and smart reports on everything from marketing channels like Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter, to product performance and shopping cart activity, including details like checkout steps and voucher codes. The app makes it easy to tie every aspect of your store back to revenue, so you can make decisions like a captain instead of drifting along in the back of the boat and drawing the map as you float along. And we integrate seamlessly with other popular Shopify apps, including ReCharge and Refersion, so your analytics will always match every touch point in the customer journey. Sign up for free today and we’ll start building a personal treasure map for your Shopify store. Pricing is based on transaction volumes (but you're free to upgrade to a higher plan at any time), and all plans include a free 14-day trial!

by Ari
2018-01-30

Shopify vs Magento: How to choose an ecommerce platform

How do you choose between Shopify and Magento? Hostinger's Laura Ramonaitytė breaks down the differences between these popular ecommerce platforms. Taking your offline business online, or starting a new online business from scratch, can be overwhelming. However, if you take time to do research and choose the right ecommerce platform for your particular business, you'll alleviate stress and have a much greater chance of success. With so many options in the market, it can be difficult to know that you're making the right decision. Nevertheless, your first preference should be choosing a platform that can fulfil not just current but also future requirements of your online store, at least as much as you can estimate those future needs. To help you make this difficult decision, we've compared the two most popular ecommerce platforms: Shopify and Magento. We look at a number of different categories and performance areas, so make sure to read through the entire post to help you make the best decision for your business. Core differences Before starting the detailed comparison, let’s take a look at some core differences between Shopify and Magento. Shopify is a complete ecommerce platform, while Magento is free and open-source software. For Shopify, secure web hosting is included in all main subscription plans, whereas for Magento you need to set up your own hosting. Both platforms have technology ecosystems with apps and themes to help you customise your site and track online sales and marketing, but Shopify's app store is much more robust and developed, with over 2,000 apps available since they opened to third-party developers in 2009! Let's dive deeper into differences between the platforms. Pricing These platforms handle setup and operating costs differently. Shopify provides a 14-day free trial. After that, users need to purchase a monthly subscription (you can start the trial and then decide on a plan, which is a nice touch). Users can choose from 3 main subscription plans, currently ranging from $29-299 per month, plus lite (for basic selling via Facebook and  'buy' buttons) and enterprise (Shopify Plus) options. Shopify is a fully hosted platform, which means you pay a flat fee per month for a plan that includes hosting. It's worth mentioning that credit card charges and transaction fees can be extra. On the other hand, Magento offers two pricing options: Magento CE and Magento EE. Magento CE (Community Edition) is free for download and use, and you are not required to buy any monthly subscription. It can be a perfect option for small and mid-sized businesses. Magento EE (Enterprise Edition) is another option, ideal for larger online stores and established businesses. The price depends on the size of your business. You can find the exact pricing by contacting Magento specialists and requesting a quote. Startups.co.uk estimates that the costs for setting up and maintaining a Magento EE site are a good fit only for larger ecommerce sites and enterprises: To give some indication, a very basic Magento shop selling less than 6,000 products, that uses pre-made Magento themes, will cost you in the region of £20,000 to £40,000. On the other hand, if you have cheap web hosting, a Magento CE site using a free theme could be quite affordable, as long as you have the expertise to maintain it. Conclusion: Shopify has fixed pricing while the cost of Magento depends on different factors such as the costs of hosting plans, technical support and plugins. If you're an experience ecommerce developer, Magento probably gives the best cost-benefit. Otherwise, Shopify is a better deal. Templates and Designs Elegant templates and designs are a crucial part of any online store. The template which looks and feels good can attract more people and eventually earn more revenue. Screenshots from the Seaside style of the Providence theme for Shopify Shopify has it own theme store, where users can look for beautifully designed, highly-responsive templates and themes. However, since Shopify is a hosted shopping cart, users get limited options for customizations. That said, Shopify's themes are awesome for plug-and-play. The themes are organized by industry, such as Furniture or Clothing, and also by type of store, such as themes optimised for stores with very small (or very large) inventories. Shopify themes generally cost over $100 but include useful features like Instagram product feeds. Screenshots from the free Absolute Theme for Magento Since Magento is open source and has been supported by a large developer community from the start, it has a range of template options. There are free and paid themes available in the Magento Marketplace, and most are mobile responsive, but there is also a huge variety of free and paid themes available from independent front end developers around the world. It's worth noting that some  Magento stores with solid coding experience do create custom themes on their own as well. Here's a guide to theme development if you're running Magento 2. Conclusion If you're looking for more theme options and customization, Magento is the winner. On the other hand, why start from scratch? Whatever you're looking for, it probably already exists in a Shopify theme! SEO Optimization If you are starting your online store from the ground up, it is necessary for you to pick the ecommerce platform that has SEO capabilities as well. Nowadays, more than half of all online purchases begin with an online search in search engines like Google and Bing. Therefore, it is crucial that ecommerce platform you have chosen supports various search optimization techniques. In our analysis, the overall SEO score for Magento is 95 out of 100 whereas Shopify's SEO score is 98 out of 100. Shopify is a highly SEO-optimized platform that has all the basic and advanced SEO features in all its plans. You can easily edit your title tags, meta description, page URLs, according to your requirement. Besides this, you can also customize your image file name and also edit alt tags as per SEO requirements. Like Shopify, Magento is also a fully SEO-optimized ecommerce platform that supports extensive SEO functionality. Along with basic SEO settings, it also provides some advanced SEO options, including canonical tags for separate categories and products, robot.txt files, image optimization, meta tags for products and home page. Conclusion Both platforms seem equally competent in terms of SEO optimization. As long as you have an organized content strategy, you can take advantage of the SEO capabilities of either platform to get more traffic. Customer Support Reliable support is more important than anything else. As a newbie, you may need to access customer support many times in a day. Consequently, invest in the company that has better technical support and back up based on what your needs might be. Shopify provides 24/7 technical support, which means that you can access support day and night whenever needed. There are three ways you can access their customer support team: Email Support Phone Support Live Chat Magento’s customer support does not include any official service. However, you can look for answers to your queries in its extensive developer community, Magento Forums, and in their documentation. Almost all platform-related queries are already answered there. Conclusion: This is the category where Shopify is definitely the winner. Final Thoughts In conclusion, both Shopify and Magento have various stunning features and they can manage your online store efficiently and help to boost your revenue. Magento is an open source platform and is more flexible, but you need to have the staff and knowledge to develop it. Features, customer support and ease of use probably make Shopify a better ecommerce platform for a standard ecommerce business. I hope this post inspires you to dig deeper and make an informed choice before launching your online store, whichever platform you choose. There are other platforms available as well, such as WooCommerce (Shopify vs WooCommerce), so don't just pick one randomly! Hostinger is a leading worldwide cheap web hosting provider.

2018-01-17

Our top 5 posts from 2017

We're an ecommerce analytics company, so it's no surprise that Shopify and Google Analytics top the list of topics in our most-read and most-shared posts of 2017. But what continues to surprise us is how many online businesses know that their analytics setup needs to be fixed, but put off the decision to take action. Luckily tools like our Shopify reporting app are making it easier than ever to get accurate data and automated reporting that really drives revenue. If fixing your tracking and making decisions based on trustworthy data wasn't your main new year's resolution for 2018, it should be! Here are the top 5 posts from our analytics blog in 2017. They should provide some inspiration. 1. Is Google Analytics compliant with GDPR? From May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force in the European Union, causing all marketers and data engineers to re-consider how they store, transmit and manage data – including Google Analytics. This popular post looks at basic and full compliance. The rights enshrined by GDPR relate to any data your company holds which is personally identifiable: that is, can be tied back to a customer who contacts you. 2. Shopify Marketing Events vs Google Analytics The ability for other Shopify apps to plug their campaign cost and attribution data into Shopify (via the new marketing events API) is a logical step to building Shopify’s own analytics capability, but is it really a viable substitute for Google Analytics? Google already has a team of hundreds working on Google Analytics, and it seems unlikely that Shopify will be able to dedicate resources to keep up with the functionality that power users need. 3. Is Google Analytics accurate? 6 common issues and how to resolve them How do you know if your Google Analytics setup is giving you reliable data? In this much-linked blog post we look at common problems and explain what can be done to make your tracking more accurate. If the journey of visitors on your site proceeds via another payment processor or gateway, you could be losing the link between the sale (or goal conversion) and the original marketing campaigns. 4. How to increase revenue with Refersion and affiliate marketing Affiliate marketing consistently outperforms other channels for ecommerce businesses. In this special guest post, our integration partner Refersion shares essential tips about how Littledata customers can get a piece of the action. When customers come through affiliate channels, their average customer revenue is 58% higher than other channels. 5. What you can track with our Shopify app Here at Littledata we believe that everyone should have access to professional-level analytics tools for tracking, reporting, and improving sales and engagement. That’s why we built the ultimate Shopify reporting app. This much-shared post outlines 'Shopify’s Standard Tracking vs Littledata for Shopify'. It's a match we're betting on! Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms on the planet, but their standard analytics are extremely limited.

by Ari
2018-01-11

Happy Holidays!

It's been a busy and exciting 2017 here at Littledata. Our Shopify reporting app really took off this year, and with a bunch of new features and report packs in the works for 2018 we don't plan on slowing down any time soon. Data never sleeps. If you work in ecommerce, analytics or -- as we happen to do here at Littledata -- ecommerce analytics, the holiday shopping period can be sleepless for the humans in charge of that data, too. So we wanted to take a moment to pause and give thanks. We couldn't have made it this far without you. From our team to yours, happy holidays! May the coming year bring you peace and success.    

by Ari
2017-12-27

The 5 worst arguments for boosting Bitcoin

I’m exasperated reading dodgy logic justifying the heady ascent of Bitcoin. What are the worst 5 arguments I’ve heard? Full disclosure: I don’t own any Bitcoin, or have any bets on its rise or otherwise. 1. Bitcoin is an insurance against the collapse of capitalism The booster The rise of artificial intelligence and mass joblessness will sweep away much of the old order of nation states and their currencies. Bitcoin is independent of government and will survive the coming storm. A grain of truth I believe big change in the relative value of labour and capital, and how they contribute to the tax base, is coming faster than politicians expect. And the reactionary backlash in affected countries, such as those voting for Donald Trump, won’t stop this trend. The sceptic Bitcoin relies on a chain of other technologies which may well get disrupted with the collapse of capitalism: cheap power supply, a global internet and secure online vaults to hold the private keys and transact the Bitcoin. If you’re betting on the end of the world as we know it, hunting and farming skills are going to be more useful!   2. Bitcoin’s limited supply makes it deflationary by default The booster Unlike fiat money (e.g. the US dollar) which can be printed at will by central banks, the total number of Bitcoin is mathematically limited to 21 million. That means, as other currencies inflate, Bitcoin will hold its value – i.e. it’s digital gold A grain of truth As developed countries around the world are forced to borrow themselves out of the hole of shrinking tax bases and increasing healthcare costs, they may try to inflate their currencies to erode the debt. The sceptic Central banks have a positive inflation target for a reason: in a deflationary currency, no-one wants to spend the currency and so there’s no circulation of wealth. If one Bitcoin could have bought me a coffee in 2016, but at the time of writing could have bought a car, why would I ever spend it? And if no one spends the currency then it has no tangible value.   3. Bitcoin is the leader of the blockchain revolution The booster Blockchain is one of the few game-changing technologies to be invented the last two decades. It will revolutionise the world of finance, and you need to own Bitcoin to be part of that. A grain of truth The blockchain ledger, keeping a public record of all transactions, and reducing the possibility for fraud or interception, will certainly change many aspects of finance. There are many projects underway in financial trading and government. The sceptic Just because Bitcoin was the first use-case of the technology, does not make it essential to newer blockchains. Equally, its first-mover advantage may not even make it the winning cryptocurrency. That said, I wouldn’t go out buying a basket of other cryptocurrencies just yet – they are all overinflated by Bitcoin’s rise.   4. The increasing mining cost of Bitcoin underpins its value The booster New bitcoin gets exponentially harder to mine, so since the cost of electricity for the miner’s servers won’t fall, the cost per bitcoin mine is rising all the time. And if you can’t mine them, you’ll have to buy them. The sceptic Yes.. but what if no one needs Bitcoins at all? Mining gold is subject to the same economic forces, but if the gold goes out of fashion as a value store (as it did an the turn of the Millennium) it still had industrial value for conducting electricity and aesthetic value for jewellery. Bitcoin has neither of those.   5. The rise of bitcoin is 2017 shows it has won out as the cryptocurrency of choice The argument Bitcoin is now the established alternative store of value, which is why it has risen so fast in 2017. And what if all the pension funds and institutional investors now buy up a slice to ensure an allocation of this new asset class? A grain of truth There’s no rational way to value Bitcoin: it does not pay dividends or have intrinsic worth (see point 4). So it could be worth anything .. or nothing. The sceptic Every decade a new mania comes along for investors to follow. The vast chatter on LinkedIn, Facebook and other forums only heightens the mania by allowing unchecked falsehoods to flourish. You only have to look at the South Sea Bubble and Tulip mania to see there is nothing new under the sun. Enjoy the roller-coaster ride up .. because everything that goes up, must come down.      

2017-12-19

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