Should Shopify stores use Shopify or Google Analytics to track their website performance and sales data?

Should Shopify stores use Shopify or Google Analytics to track their website performance and sales data?

Monday, February 7, 2022 - 5 min read

Sales data is what actually happens in our Shopify database, like orders and customers. With it, we can answer questions such as “What is our average order value?” or “How many returning customers did we have?”. Website data is the stuff that happens in visitors’ browsers, like traffic sources and page views. With it, we can answer questions such as “How do visitors find our website? or “Which product details do they view?”

The best sales data comes from Shopify, and the best website data comes from Google Analytics. Use the right source, or you’ll get the wrong answers.

Use Shopify to track sales

Shopify is your sales data's single source of truth. There isn't a single order (or customer, or refund) in your shop that Shopify doesn't have. It's the entire data set.

In comparison, the e-commerce data in Google Analytics is only a rough approximation of your sales data. As a result, instead of using Google Analytics to identify KPIs like average order value or new and returning consumers, you should utilize Shopify. There are a number of benefits to doing so.

  • Historical data

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Shopify overview dashboard

We receive flawless historical data with Shopify. That implies we can see our store's complete history even if we didn't start using Google Analytics (or any other service) until a few months after it opened.

  • Orders Placed Outside of the Website

All of our orders are stored in Shopify, including those that were not placed on our website. Orders done over the phone or through subscription applications like Recharge all wind up in Shopify, but not in Google Analytics.

  • Retroactive Update

In a similar vein, we'll frequently find that we need to adjust how we think about your data as we begin our study. Rebuy, a Shopify software for one-click upsells, for example, creates a new order for each upsell item. However, we don't want to count upsells as distinct orders when computing average order value.

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Average Order Value reflected by Shopify Reports

The most we can do in Google Analytics is a remark that we altered the method we compute order values starting today. As a result, you won't be able to answer queries like "How has our average order value changed over the last six months?" with any degree of precision using Google Analytics. For these types of inquiries, it's generally unhelpful.

  • Actual Actuals are used to debug.

All of our other marketing platforms, such as Facebook advertisements, Google Optimize A/B testing, and Adwords remarketing, are independent pixels with their own purchase numbers.

If everything goes as planned, the figures will be accurate to within ten percent. However, they don't always function well. We need to compare their statistics to our real sales data from Shopify, not predicted sales data from another source, to figure out what's wrong.

Google Analytics E-commerce for Website Data

All of this isn't to argue that Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce monitoring isn't a good idea. You'll need it to run Optimize A/B testing, for starters. More crucially, as we'll see, you'll need it to add traffic source information to your Shopify statistics.

However, it should not be used to evaluate sales data. After all, why not use the genuine data that Shopify has?

  • Exclusions for Referrals

We can't attribute traffic accurately if we have a custom landing page or checkout experience because Shopify's built-in analytics solution lacks crucial features like referral exclusions.

As a result, Shopify will attribute the majority of our revenues to "direct traffic."

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Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

  • Tracking Visitors Over Time

Finally, Google Analytics does a better job of monitoring visitors over time than other analytics programs. Let's say a visitor comes to our website on Monday after seeing a Facebook ad, looks at a few product detail pages, and then departs. Then, on Friday, they return and make a purchase.

Assuming the visitor uses the same browser, Google Analytics "knows" that the Monday visitor and the Friday customers are the same person, and hence the Friday transaction may be attributed to the Monday Facebook ad.

  • For website data, there is no one source of truth.

Now, unlike Shopify sales data, we can't use Google Analytics (or any other website tracking technology) as the only source of truth for our website.

For starters, we will be unable to trace any visitors who use ad blockers. More crucially, no Google Analytics configuration is flawless from the start, and we can't track new website activities retrospectively. For example, if we simply started recording add to cart events today, we'd have no means of knowing what past visitors added to their carts.

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Google Analytics can be disturbed sometimes

We don't need perfect data for website tracking—better is the enemy of good enough. Just remember that, unlike sales statistics, it's always a rough estimate.

Setting Up Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce in Your Shopify Site 

First, set up Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce in your Shopify store. To begin, most shops can get by with the default Shopify plugin. Go to Preferences > Google Analytics in the Online Store.

Then, using this custom report, conduct a test purchase to confirm that the Enhanced Ecommerce transaction ID matches the Shopify order number. You may integrate the two data sources based on the order number once you're monitoring orders in Google Analytics with the same order number provided in Shopify.

To do so, retrieve your Shopify orders and Google Analytics transactions (as described above using the custom report) and upload the data into this spreadsheet.