Getting Started with Ecommerce Analytics and Reporting for Shopify

Getting Started with Ecommerce Analytics and Reporting for Shopify

August 23, 2018

Why it's important

We have conversations with Shopify merchants on a weekly basis, who know that their stores could be performing better (your store can pretty much always be performing better), but they aren’t sure where to start with trying to figure out where the weak points are, and what can be improved.
Another common scenario is merchants spending money on marketing and advertising campaigns, but not necessarily knowing how to evaluate the true effectiveness of those efforts.
That’s where having some comfort with reporting and analytics tools is extremely valuable. Having a basic understanding of the reporting and analytics tools available within your Shopify dashboard, as well as how to setup and make use of your Google Analytics account, can provide you with the insights you need to improve the aspects of your online store and customer experience to enhance your bottom line.

How to get started with Shopify reports

Screenshot of Shopify dashboard

Regardless of which Shopify plan you’re on, you’ll have the ability to view basic analytics and reports.

To access them is pretty straight-forward. Just click on Analytics in your main Shopify dashboard, and you’ll see your analytics overview dashboard, along with links to your Reports and Live View.

Main Analytics dashboard

Shopify analytics dashboard.

In your overview dashboard, you’ll find high-level data, such as traffic numbers, conversions rates, order values, and traffic location. Right away the data you’ll find here can be extremely informative and helpful if you understand what you’re looking for. More on that coming up.


Screenshot of Shopify reporting dashboard.

Your Reports section will give you a more detailed look at data, such as sales breakdowns, user behaviour, marketing campaign attribution, and more.

If you’re on the Shopify Advanced plan, you’ll also have the ability to build Custom Reports, which can provide even deeper insights.

Through this Reports dashboard, you can also click to see more information on specific items. For example, you can see trends and changes in your Average Order Value over time.

Live View

Live View provides you with a map and data relating to what’s happening on your store at that exact moment.

Shopify Live View

So what should you be looking for in all of these analytics? We’ll talk about that later in this article.

Setting up Google Analytics with Enhanced Ecommerce

If you haven’t launched your store yet, be sure to install Google Analytics before you do. If you’re already running an online store and you don’t have Google Analytics installed, you should probably look after that immediately.

For starters, you’ll need a Google account, which you can sign up for here if you don’t already have one. Once you have your Google account, you can sign up for Google Analytics by heading here. The process to create a new account is pretty straight-forward. You simply fill in the necessary information, and progress through the signup.

Google analytics tracking ID

At the bottom of the signup form, you’ll see the option, “Get Tracking ID”.

Google analytics tag tracking in Shopify

A new page will open, and you’ll be able to Copy your Analytics Global Site Tag. It should look something like this:

Shopify online store preferences.

To add the tag to your Shopify site, head back to your Shopify dashboard. Navigate to Online Store > Preferences.

Once here, you’ll see a field on the right to paste your global tag code into.

Shopify Google analytics code field

Once Google Analytics is enabled on your store, you will see your tracking ID (in this example, the UA-124028862-a code from the Global Site Tag screenshot above), replace the long site tag code you just pasted.

Shopify Google Analytics Code

Enhanced Ecommerce Analytics

You’ll also notice a checkbox under “Enhanced Ecommerce”. Enhanced ecommerce analytics collects more data specific to your site’s ecommerce activity, such as transaction information, purchase data, etc. This is a feature that isn’t turned on automatically, so you will need to go through a few additional steps to be sure you Google Analytics account is capturing all of that valuable data.

You’ll notice in the screenshot above, the checkbox under “Enhanced Ecommerce”. By default, this box is unselected. Simply check the box to turn it on.

Google analytics settings.

Then head back to your Google Analytics account to enable ecommerce analytics collection from that end.

Once in your Google Analytics account, click the Admin tab on the bottom left.

Google analytics ecommerce settings.

Then you’ll navigate to “Ecommerce Settings” under View in the third column.

Google analytics settings in Shopify

Once you’ve clicked on Ecommerce Settings, you’ll be able to turn on ecommerce tracking and Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting.

You should be all set now. In some cases, it will take Google Analytics up to 24 hours before it starts collecting any data though.

KPIs - Which metrics to pay attention to at first

Alright, you’ve managed to figure out how to navigate your Shopify Analytics and Reports, as well as get your store connected to Google Analytics. So now what?

It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed with the volume of data at your disposal. That’s why you need to start with an understanding of what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are, and what they each tell you about how you’re store is doing.

I came across a diagram similar to this one on a piece of Shopify Plus content, and I think it does an excellent job of illustrating the breakdown of pieces that all make up and lead to the overall goal of revenue.

Revenue Breakdown chart

Basically, the amount of revenue your store will realize is based on a combination of the number of customers you have, and the lifetime value of those customers. Within each of those two areas, there are a number of metrics you can examine to determine how to improve your overall numbers.

Number of Customers


Obviously, the first step to getting customers is getting traffic to your store. How many users is your store getting? Is it increasing or decreasing? Are there any trends to pay attention to?

While your overall traffic numbers are definitely something to pay attention to, it’s important not to place too much importance on this macro-level metric. Just because you may have a lot of traffic, it doesn’t necessarily mean your site is performing well. You’ll want to dig deeper into some of the metrics described below.

Traffic Source

Where are your users coming from? Are people finding you through social media? Organic search? Ad campaigns? Understanding which channels are performing well, and which ones aren’t will give you a better idea of where to focus your efforts.

In some cases, it may make sense to try to improve channels that aren’t performing as well. In others, it may be better to double down on what is working, and not worry about what isn’t.

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate refers to the percentage of users that leave your site, after viewing only one page. Obviously, the lower this rate is the better. Ideally, users who visit your site stick around for a while, viewing multiple pages and products.

Google analytics bounce rate data.

To view your overall site bounce rate in Google Analytics, click on Audience > Overview in the left-hand menu.

You can also view your bounce rate for individual pages. There are a few different ways you can get there, including navigating to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

Google analytics all pages bounce rate data in Shopify.

Bounce rate is an important metric to keep an eye on. If it’s high (high being relative based on your industry and products), then you need to ask yourself why. Obviously, your traffic isn’t engaging with your content. Is that because the content is lacking? Or maybe your traffic isn’t the right traffic, meaning it’s not targeted enough?

Ecommerce benchmark data in the Shopify dashboard.

Here’s a handy chart I got from Digishuffle outlining benchmark bounce rates by industry from 2017. I wouldn’t focus so much on the exact numbers, but it is a nice reference to see if you’re in the same ballpark.

Pages Per Visit and Average Session Duration

These metrics are exactly what they sound like and relate very much to your bounce rate. How many pages do your website visitors view on average? How long does a user usually stick around for? You can find this information in the same spot as your overall bounce rate.

Google analytics data in Shopify

Generally speaking, the more time spent and pages viewed, the better. It typically lets you know that your users are finding content worth spending time and engaging with. Similar to a high bounce rate, if your pages per visit and average session duration are low, it could be an indicator that either your traffic isn’t targeted well enough, or your content isn’t of a high enough quality for that traffic to want to see more of it.

Ecommerce-specific Metrics

Shopify analytics

Add to Cart

Your add to cart rate tells you the number and percentage of users who added a product to their cart.

Reached Checkout

The reached checkout stat tells you the number and percentage of users who not only added products to their cart but also clicked through and reached the checkout.

Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate tells you the percentage of users that actually make a purchase.

These three stats give you a nice overview of how users are (or aren’t) progressing through your checkout process.

You will also want to do a little bit of quick math to determine your abandoned cart rate.

Abandoned Cart Rate

Simply divide your number of add to carts by your number of conversions. The resulting number will be the percentage of add to carts that completed their purchase, meaning you just need to subtract that number from 100 to get the opposite metric - your abandoned cart rate.

In the above example, the abandoned cart rate is roughly 72%.

Completed purchase rate: 120/427 = 0.28 (meaning 28%)
Abandoned cart rate: 100% - 28% = 72%

How to Use These Metrics

It can be tempting to view your overall conversion rate in isolation, without paying attention to the related metrics. Examining where users are dropping off in the purchase journey is important though.

If you have a high abandoned cart rate, then that means that users were interested enough in your product to add it to the cart, but for some reason they didn’t want to complete your purchase.

You’re always going to have a percentage of your carts abandoned, but if it’s an extremely high rate, you need to figure out why. For starters, try to determine where in the process things are breaking down. If the majority of users who add products to their cart, also reach checkout before abandoning their cart, then examine the checkout process. What could be a barrier to a user completing a purchase?

Unexpected shipping costs are the number one reason given for abandoned carts, so that’s a good place to start. How does your checkout look on mobile versus desktop? Are you requiring too much info from users?

If, though, the majority of your abandoned carts are happening before users even reach checkout, then chances are checkout-specific items, such as unexpected shipping costs, aren’t to blame.

Look at the user experience prior to getting to the checkout to see if you can spot any issues. Once a user adds a product to their cart, what happens? Is there any kind of cart notification? Is the cart hard to find? Once they’re in the cart, are there any issues getting from there to check out?

For example, a Shopify merchant came to us with conversion rate issues. We realized very quickly that there was an image object above the cart on mobile, that pushed the cart contents and the checkout button down “below the fold”, meaning users had to do extra work to view their cart and get to the checkout. While it may seem like an insignificant issue, that type of barrier to user experience can absolutely have an effect on abandoned cart rates.

Customer Lifetime Value

The lifetime value of your customers is going to be dependent on basically two factors:

  • Average order value
  • Purchase frequency

Average Order Value

How much is a typical customer spending on each order? You can easily find this information right within Shopify Analytics dashboard.

Average order value from Shopify.

You can also view your Average Order Value in your Shopify Reports, which can give you a bit better view of the numbers and trends over time.

Average order value over time report from Shopify.

You can also view your Average Order Value in your Shopify Reports, which can give you a bit better view of the numbers and trends over time.

Purchase frequency

How often are your customers buying from you? There’s no single, easy metric here to look at, but there are a few pieces of data you can view and use to give you an overall picture of how often your customers are buying from you.

For starters, you can head to the Reports section in your Shopify dashboard. There are a couple of Reports under Customers (if you're on the Shopify plan or higher) that may be useful to you, specifically the Returning Customers and Customers over time Reports.

Shopify reports customers.

Returning Customers

Shopify report for returning customers.

This report will give you more insight into your returning customers, including when their first purchase was, when their most recent purchase was, how many orders they’ve placed, and their average and total order values. This can give you some insight into how many times your returning customers are buying from you, and what their overall value is.

Customers Over Time

Shopify Report of customers over time.

This report won’t include average order value by default, but you can add it in using the Edit Columns tab. This can give you a better understanding of how many of your monthly sales are from returning customers, and how their order values compare to those of first-time customers.

Returning Customer Rate

You can also see your simple returning customer rate in your main Shopify Analytics dashboard. This simply tells you what percentage of your customers are returning customers, versus first-time customers.

Shopify Analytics returning customer dashboard.

To increase your number of returning customers, and the frequency of their purchases, you could try experimenting with ongoing email and/or Messenger marketing campaigns.

Increase Revenue

Using the above metrics you can start to examine your store's performance and determine which areas you need to address to increase your overall revenue.

Again, your revenue is basically a function of the number of customers you have, and how much each customer is worth on average, with your customer value being primarily made up of your average order value and your customers' order frequency.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of where to find the data you need, and how to use it.

If you’re struggling with how to make sense of, and act on, your reports, feel free to reach out and we would be happy to chat.

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