Navigate Your Business in a Cookieless World

Navigate Your Business in a Cookieless World

Third party cookies are currently being phased out by Google. Cookies have been an integral way for e-commerce businesses to collect data on consumers in order to personalise marketing. 

With third-party cookies set to be fully phased out by the end of the year, now is a crucial time for brands to get smart about becoming less dependant on cookies to run both their website and marketing campaigns.

If you're a brand on Shopify or an e-commerce business owner or a marketer trying to overcome Google's Third Party cookie changes, this blog covers everything on how you can navigate your business in a cookieless world. 

Table of Contents: 

Why is Google removing third-party cookies?

From Google's Third-party cookie deprecation page, Google states that it has restricted third-party cookies for Chrome users by default; 1% of Chrome Stable clients and 20% of Canary, Dev and Beta clients.

Google is phasing out the use of third-party cookies in 2024 to enhance user privacy and data security. This move aims to address growing concerns over how personal data is collected, shared, and used across the web.

Having worked in the digital marketing and e-commerce industries for over 10 years, I can say that Google has been gearing up for this for quite some time. Other browsers have been doing this for a while, but with Chrome having 3.45bn users and brands heavily relying on cookies for their website stability, remarketing campaigns and more to run their businesses. You can imagine it's going to have quite the impact when third-party cookies are no more. 

By eliminating third-party cookies, Google intends to promote more transparent and responsible data practices while still enabling advertisers to reach their audiences effectively through alternative, privacy-focused technologies.

When are Google getting rid of third-party cookies?

Google started phasing out third-party cookies at the start of 2024, with the vision of phasing them out fully by the end of the year. 

The phase out of cookies will be done throughout several phases over the year so brands should really start to prepare for the upcoming changes.

What are cookies?

A cookie is a small file containing letters and numbers that is downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Many websites use cookies to perform various functions, such as remembering your preferences, recording items in your shopping basket, and counting the number of visitors to the site.

So, you can imagine as a Shopify merchant how important these actually are for personalising marketing and making it easier for visitors to buy from your site. 

In layman's terms, Think of cookies as little reminders that help the website remember things about you. For example, cookies can help a website remember your login details, keep track of items in your shopping cart, or save your preferences for future visits. This way, the website can give you a more personalised and convenient experience.

The different types of cookies:

  • First-Party Cookies: These are created by the website you visit. The site sends these cookies to your browser, which then stores them on your device.
  • Third-Party Cookies: These are created by websites other than the one you are visiting. For example, if you visit a site with a Facebook "Like" button, that button will create a third-party cookie.

  • Session Cookies: Used for the duration of your visit to a site and are then deleted.

What is cookieless e-commerce?

While first-party and many third-party cookies can be safe, zombie cookies pose a security threat because they are permanently stored on your device, making them accessible to hackers.

A cookieless e-commerce solution involves storing web analytics data on remote servers instead of users’ devices. This method allows marketers to gather important analytics data while ensuring customer privacy.

What does this mean for brands on Shopify?

Brands on Shopify will be significantly impacted by the new cookies changes, here's what will be affected by Google's changes.


Digital Footprint

Without cookies enabling cross-platform identification, it will be challenging to analyse ad impressions and frequency, and to classify incoming customers as new or returning. This difficulty can lead to lost sales as even basic metrics become harder to measure.

Large tech corporations like Google have proposed solutions, with Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) being a key example. FLoC shows ads to people based on browsing cohorts, making identification across the web easier by grouping users based on shared identifiers.

However, as of early 2021, no single solution had gained significant traction due to the complexity of the issue. Now, in January 2022, Google will replace FLoC with the Topics API to learn about consumers’ online interests.

So as an e-commerce merchant, this is something you should start taking control of as soon as possible to retain and build upon existing customer data. We'll expand on how you can overcome Google's cookies changes later on. 

Paid Ads Targeting 

With the disappearance of third-party cookies, marketers will lose access to much of the data they currently rely on. This will affect targeted ads and make it difficult for e-commerce brands to determine which strategies are effective. As a result, return on ad spend (ROAS) may drop, and customer acquisition costs may increase.

However, alternatives such as deep linking for apps and cookieless targeting can help reach potential buyers at different stages of their journey. It's important to note that consumers will start receiving less personalised ads due to increased security and privacy controls.

Attribution & Tracking

Attributing data to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns and marketing efforts is essential for assessing your online content marketing strategies. Multi-touch attribution models help you understand how customers interact with different channels on their journey to becoming a customer.

Third-party cookies have been the best way to track customer behaviour accurately over time. Without them, tracking will become more challenging, especially since contacting customers is central to improving overall marketing performance.

A potential solution is to shift from an attribution model based on views to one based on clicks.

How to prepare your Shopify store for cookieless e-commerce 

Google phasing out third-party cookies is a great opportunity for you as a brand owner to take control of your own data and strengthen your data collection strategy. 

With acquisition costs significantly rising, the rise is only set to continue with it being harder to track channel attribution as accurately. 

On the flipside, this gives consumers more trust in the brands that they share their data with, basically forcing brands to ask for the information that they need. 

Ready to transform your Shopify store and create a truly unforgettable e-commerce experience? Book a quick chat with the award winning Shopify Plus Agency.

Here's how you can prepare your Shopify store for cookieless e-commerce:

Improve your first-party data collection

This is something the Rainy City agency team has spoken about at lengths. The smarter you get with your data the collection, the more information consumers will be willing to share with you.

Thus making it much easier and much more effective to market to them in the future. Not only does this give consumers more control over their privacy, but it gives brands more accurate, reliable data. In fact, much more reliable than third-party cookies.

There are many ways that you can collect first-party data, including surveys, loyalty and programs, customer services and website data. 

First-party data will help you as a merchant build really detailed customer profiles, that you can then segment and use within your marketing. 

It will also give you a clearer picture on customer trends and behaviour over time. Resulting in better projections and planning for the future. 

Explore second-party data 

If you are unable to collect first-hand data due to your industry or the type of products you sell, you can explore second-party data providers. Second-party data is data collected by one company and then shared with another.

For example, a website that uses first-party cookies to track user behavior could share that information with your business.

This type of data sharing is generally considered more ethical than third-party data collection because users have already given permission for their data to be collected and shared.

Second-party data providers are usually companies that users already trust and have a relationship with, increasing the likelihood that users will feel comfortable sharing their data.

These providers typically include survey platforms, market researchers, and similar sites where consumers actively participate.  

Heat mapping & tracking customer behaviour 

Apart from first party and second party data collection methods, there are other ways to build insights around your customers to see how they interact with your website so you can start to see patterns and trends. 

Heat mapping can also be an indication of where users are getting stuck on your site due to any bugs or navigation errors, heling you reduce drop offs.

Build and invest in your CRM

A CRM is the source of all customer knowledge for most businesses. Bringing together all of your customer data in one singular place will make it much easier to market to customer segments and build stronger data profiles. 

    Use server side tracking 

    Server-side tracking is a method of tracking user behavior that does not rely on cookies. Instead, it uses the user’s IP address information to track their activity.

    Server side tracking has multiple benefits over the more traditional cookie-based tracking that we're used to. 

    Server side tracking is more accurate. Users have had the ability to disable and clear cookies since they've been around, so this can often disrupt data. IP addresses are much more difficult to change. 

    Server side tracking has more privacy over cookie-based tracking. Cookie tracking stores information about a user on their device, whereas server-side tracking is stored on servers instead. 

    Server-side tracking is infinitely scalable, with traditional cookies, they're limited in the amount of data that they can store. This makes it difficult to track a larger number of users. 

    Server-side tracking does require a really complex setups and can be quite expensive to setup and maintain.

    Develop scalable automated marketing for your Shopify store

    Automating your marketing isn't anything new, but the way that you automate based on the data you collect can be much more effective and help increase conversions with new and returning customers. 

    Automating your emails, SMS and other marketing campaigns at all stages of a customer's journey is important when scaling up your brand. Not only does this help build more trust with your customers, it will help increase conversions with more personalised marketing efforts. 

    When Google got rid of cookies...

    By the end of 2024, the e-commerce landscape will be a much different place to where it was at the start of the year. It has already changed significantly already and brands are seeing a steep increase in acquisition costs. 

    But like we said, it has massive upsides for brands to get more personal and be smarter about the data they collect and control. 

    If you need help transforming your Shopify experience of you're looking to migrate to Shopify to offer a better online shopping experience. Book a quick chat with our team of Shopify experts

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