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.