Data Attributes tell tracking systems what products and promotions exist on BigCommerce pages. Currently they are dependent on BigCommerce’s Universal Analytics (UA) solution being enabled. With UA disappearing in a few days time, what will become of this valuable feature?

How Are Data Attributes Used?

We can’t speak for other tracking systems but we use them for Tag Rocket extensively to track products and product lists on both regular Stencil-driven pages and where supported, dynamically generated product list content by 3rd party search & faceted navigation providers. This is used to send dynamic remarketing events to Ad platforms and track events through the purchase funnel. In short, they enable powerful tracking possibilities.

Cornerstone Change Pending

We foresaw this issue and raised an issue request on April 9 2022, following it up with an idea request in January 2023. Now, 3 days until the Universal Analytics cutoff, a provisional release to the Cornerstone theme has been made. It’s great that the long-term future of data attributes look safe but there’s still a question mark on when BigCommerce will remove the Universal Analytics integration and what will happen.

How Does This Affect You?

Obviously, if the forementioned provisional release is released, Cornerstone customers can “simply” upgrade their themes and they’re fine. Custom Stencil themes or those who cannot promptly upgrade their Cornerstone theme may be in a bit of a pickle if BigCommerce don’t proceed carefully.

The provisional release to Cornerstone simply removes the condition whether to add the data attributes (data_tags enabled) – the conditions for that are stated in the below documentation:

data_tag_enabled (boolean)
Site-wide boolean that indicates whether GAEE is enabled in a theme. For {{settings.data_tag_enabled}} to be true, the enhanced_ecommerce key must be present in config.json and a GAEE experiment must be enabled along with GA property value set in Advanced Settings > Analytics > GA in the store control panel.

So the question here is, what are BigCommerce going to do with this data_tag_enabled setting (when, not if) they remove Universal Analytics tracking, and when will this happen?

Option 1 – BigCommerce set data_tag_enabled = true for everyone

This is our favourite option, no one has to do anything to keep data attributes running. There will be a number of stores that suddenly have data attributes but that’s unlikely to have adverse results in the vast majority of cases.

Option 2 – BigCommerce remove the data_tag_enabled setting or set it to false (same result)

Immediately, almost every BigCommerce store not on the latest version of Cornerstone (presuming the provisional release is made prior) will lose data attributes!

How Do I Ensure My Data Attributes Are Safe?

Theme edits will save the day. There’s the best way or a quick hack – we’ll let you decide what’s best but for non-Cornerstone themes, I’d recommend the former, for older Cornerstone themes, the latter.

Best Way

Simply copy what the provisional release does which is mostly remove the condition:

Quick Hack

If you’re nervous about making so many changes, you can also just replace the check condition with “true”. eg replace:

{{#if settings.data_tag_enabled}}

with

{{#if true}}

Less changes makes for less potential mistakes. If you use the Cornerstone theme and upgrade later, the upgrade will remove the rest anyways.

When Must I Have This Done By?

That depends a little on how fast BigCommerce remove the Universal Analytics option and what they do with the data_tag_enabled when they do. Our best guess is that they’ll leave the UA option for a bit to see what Google does, then make a decision. If it’s option 1 above, we all relax but if it’s option 2, get those theme edits happening. If anyone has further insight into all of this, please let us know.