Pro­mo­tions and deep dis­counts are a sign that the com­pet­i­tive end of year retail hol­i­day sea­son is in full swing. One crit­i­cal enhance­ment to Site­Cat­a­lyst report­ing for prod­ucts and orders is the track­ing abil­ity to cap­ture a range of dif­fer­ent dis­count types. In con­junc­tion with cal­cu­lated met­rics, the upgraded met­rics are a pow­er­ful view into cus­tomer behav­ior and prod­ucts per­for­mance in the con­text of pro­mo­tions and dis­counts. In this blog post, I will review approaches to pro­mo­tion and dis­count track­ing at both the prod­uct and order level. A few of the key deci­sions that need to be tack­led in pro­mo­tions and dis­count track­ing are:

  • What level of dis­count track­ing is avail­able to pass to Site­Cat­a­lyst on the order con­fir­ma­tion page?
  • Should promotions/discount amounts be cap­tured as a dis­tinct metric(s) or han­dled within the Site­Cat­a­lyst UI as a cal­cu­lated metric?

I want to first review sev­eral of the main con­cepts around dis­count prod­ucts and order track­ing in Site­Cat­a­lyst. A typ­i­cal retail Site­Cat­a­lyst imple­men­ta­tion cap­tures rev­enue as the main sales cur­rency met­rics on the order con­fir­ma­tion page. How­ever the fore­most sales cal­cu­la­tion for a retailer is Net demand. Net demand is the sim­ple cal­cu­la­tion of prod­uct sales minus all dis­counts. Prod­uct Sales – All Dis­counts = Net Demand $

Fig­ure 1.1 Exam­ple Net Demand Sales Cal­cu­la­tion Hierarchy


At times get­ting to that sim­ple cal­cu­la­tion in dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics can be a tricky task, with an assort­ment of dif­fer­ent pos­si­ble dis­count types in play on a per-product or entire order basis.

  • Prod­uct Markdowns
  • Coupon Codes
  • Reward Dis­count Points
  • Prod­uct Line Discount
  • Prod­uct Brand Discounts
  • Order-Level Dis­counts
  • Pri­vate Label Credit Card Discounts

Imple­men­ta­tion Design

Cus­tom incre­men­tor events within the prod­ucts vari­able string make track­ing pro­mo­tions and dis­count met­rics pos­si­ble. Pro­mo­tions and dis­counts track­ing lever­age the exist­ing design of the order con­fir­ma­tion page to derive net demand and sev­eral other valu­able cal­cu­lated met­rics. In the exam­ple below let’s work with three dis­count events; event1 maps to mark­down amount, event2 maps to prod­uct level promo dis­count, and event3 which maps to an order level dis­count. Please note the num­bered events in the exam­ples are arbi­trary, and events can be allo­cated from any avail­able suc­cess event within a given report suite.

event1=Markdown Amount

event2=Product Level Promo Discount

event3=Order Level Dis­count  

Site­Cat­a­lyst Prod­uct String Syntax:

s.products= ;style#;quantity;price;event#(s);  

Sin­gle Prod­uct with Two Prod­uct Dis­counts Syn­tax Example: pur­chase, event1, event2;

s.products=  ;123456;2;30.00; event1=5.00|event2=10.00;  

Sin­gle Prod­uct with Two Prod­uct Dis­count & One Order-Level Dis­count Syn­tax Example: pur­chase, event1, event2, event3;

s.products=  ;123456;2;30.00; event1=7.00|event2=3.00; , ;;;;event3=5.00;

Impor­tant Imple­men­ta­tion Notes

  1. Be sure to include the new incre­men­tor events within the events list on the order con­fir­ma­tion page.
  2. The prod­uct level events should be pipe-delimited (I)
  3. Indi­vid­ual Prod­ucts are sep­a­rated by com­mas in the prod­ucts string.
  4. The cur­rency amount event val­ues should be set to two dec­i­mal places and with­out cur­rency signs
  5. There is no need to trans­mit “0.00” val­ues (when there is no mark­down dis­count for exam­ple) and the non-applicable promotions/discount event can be excised from the prod­ucts string.

Pro­mo­tions & Prod­uct Dis­count Analy­sis Examples

Once we have pro­mo­tions and dis­count track­ing setup on the order con­fir­ma­tion page, we can show a Site­Cat­a­lyst break­down of prod­ucts by mer­chan­dise divi­sion with gross retail as a cal­cu­lated met­ric, mark­down amount, rev­enue, line, and brand dis­count at a per prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tion basis.  A sec­ond exam­ple illus­trates how the pro­mo­tions and dis­count track­ing func­tions within the mar­ket­ing chan­nel (s.campaign) reports. Any clas­si­fi­ca­tion attribute of mar­ket­ing track­ing codes can be bro­ken down by the pro­mo­tions and dis­counts metrics.


Pro­mo­tions & Prod­uct Dis­count Track­ing Benefits

  • Pro­vide insight into dis­counts %, mark­downs %, and net demand to bet­ter align with finan­cial account­ing sys­tems. The ben­e­fit of this sales met­rics KPI data within Site­Cat­a­lyst is ana­lysts can break­down mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, traf­fic sources, and cus­tom seg­ments to see which vis­i­tors drive the most prof­itable orders.
  • Abil­ity to cal­cu­late net demand at the prod­uct level because dis­counts are asso­ci­ated to the prod­uct and not the entire order.
  • Mea­sure the impact of pro­mo­tions and dis­counts in A/B & mul­ti­vari­ate test work.
  • Iden­tify dis­count buy­ers vs. full-price buy­ers, prod­uct pro­mo­tion and dis­count rate impact, and aggre­gate dis­count type trends.

Test­ing & Qual­ity Assurance

I want to stress the impor­tance of test­ing and exten­sive devel­op­ment work within the order con­fir­ma­tion page. The order con­fir­ma­tion page is the high­est value page for a retailer and any errors could directly impact end con­ver­sion reports. Be sure to thor­oughly test all per­mu­ta­tions of dis­counts and pro­mo­tions that can impact sales price.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Pre-purchase dis­count track­ing can be set with con­cur­rent cus­tom events with prod­uct views or cart adds to indi­cate an active dis­count or mark­down viewed or in use.
  2. Applic­a­ble tax and gift wrap amount can also be cap­tured within the prod­ucts event string as sep­a­rate cus­tom events.
  3. The cur­rency event can be con­fig­ured entirely within the Admin Con­sole and no Client Care involve­ment is required to set up cur­rency events.


Retail­ers should be mind­ful to include addi­tional pro­mo­tion and dis­count amounts into their exist­ing Site­Cat­a­lyst prod­uct and order reports. Pro­mo­tions and dis­count track­ing opens up a wide array of analy­sis areas and reports. Report bench­marks can be cre­ated to mea­sure sea­sonal mar­ket­ing efforts and cam­paigns can be fur­ther scru­ti­nized by sophis­ti­cated con­ver­sion sales fig­ures. One of the guid­ing prin­ci­ples I take into imple­men­ta­tion and report suite design is that if it is an impact­ful ele­ment to the user expe­ri­ence, it should be tracked within Site­Cat­a­lyst. In a retail envi­ron­ment where pro­mo­tions and dis­counts are such a crit­i­cal fac­tor in the pur­chase con­sid­er­a­tion process; Site­Cat­a­lyst should reflect these met­rics. A Site­Cat­a­lyst retail imple­men­ta­tion that is only cap­tur­ing prod­uct sales rev­enue and not tak­ing into account pro­mo­tions and dis­counts is poten­tially only telling a small por­tion of the story.

Brian Au is a con­sul­tant in Adobe Con­sult­ing, focused on dig­i­tal strat­egy, ana­lyt­ics & opti­miza­tion for retail & travel clients. He tweets at @BrianAu. This is one of a series of posts cov­er­ing tips from our retail experts in Adobe Con­sult­ing related to Hol­i­day ecom­merce analytics.