“Do you trust your e-commerce reports?” This is a question that we often ask our clients and for many of them, the answer is no. Performing a test transaction is a way to ascertain correct data collection in any data mining software.

A test transaction is a method that requires the user to purchase a flight on their website to get to the confirmation page to analyze the e-commerce dataLayer structure and values, the tags collecting the data, and finally the results in the analytics platform.

The test transaction will result in a purchase with a real PNR. Therefore, it is required to be able to cancel it (some airlines allow to cancel any transaction within 24 hours), or have a dummy debit card to complete the transaction.

Ask for internal policies about routes, fare classes, and advance purchase required to cancel the test transaction.

Step 1 – Select a Route

Select a cheap route for the test transaction five months ahead from the purchase to have time to cancel it. This may vary depending on the season and availability.

Step 2 – Flight Results Page

Select Cheapest Outbound and Inbound that appears on the flight results page. Make sure the price is consistent as you move along the IBE (Internet Booking Engine).

Step 3 – Payment Page

After going through the entire booking process in the IBE, use a dummy credit card if available, or use the method specified by the internal policies to perform test transactions. In some cases specific credit card numbers, names, or codes, will need to be included to process cancellations once the test is done.

Take note of the total price before finalizing the purchase.

Step 4 – Confirmation Page

Save PNR as it will be used to check the results in Google Analytics and it will be necessary to cancel the purchase.

e-commerce dataLayer

The e-commerce dataLayer will provide details of how the transaction will be reported in GA.

To find the e-commerce dataLayer type “dataLayer” in the Console tab of developer tools.

Make sure the dataLayer is collecting the following:

  • PNR as the Transaction ID

  • Correct total revenue

  • Currency code

  • Route – Origin and Destination airport codes

Network – Transaction Collect

The transaction collect will confirm if the transaction was sent to GA. The transaction hit is sent as an HTTP request, consisting of field and value pairs encoded as a query string.

Look into the browser’s developer tools and the hits will be shown in the Network tab.

  1. Search “google-analytics.com/collect” in Network
  2. Look for the collect that has the transaction information
  3. Make sure that the e-commerce data is being sent as shown in the dataLayer

 

 

Step 5 – Google Analytics

The test transaction results will be shown in Google Analytics after 72 hours as GA needs time to process the data.

1. Search for the PNR in the e-commerce section

The PNR will be reported as the Transaction ID in the e-commerce section.

This example has Standard e-commerce

 

2. Analyze Expected Results:

Compare the results reported in Google Analytics against the ones from the test transaction.

  • Correct total revenue

  • Route – Origin and Destination airport codes

 

 

Conclusion

The test transaction will reflect the correct or incorrect tracking implementation. If the transaction results are not the expected ones, action items will need to be followed to fix the issue. Most of the issues are caused by a incorrect dataLayer implementation or erroneous tag implementation.

After fixing the issues another test transaction will be needed to ascertain correct tracking.

Performing test transactions is a powerful approach to QA data collection and attribution. It is recommended to perform test transactions every time there are updates on the confirmation page.