Analytics discrepancies

The concept of analytics seems simple: how many times did a certain action take place? In reality, there are many factors, such as how different browsers define each action, the customer's privacy settings, and even the customer's internet connection, that can make reaching an accurate number difficult.

Discrepancies between Shopify and other software

You sometimes have different results between Shopify analytics and third-party tracking services such as Google Analytics.

There are many possible reasons for differences in tracking results:

  • Differences in how page reloads and unique visitors are counted. Google counts every page reload, but a browser doesn't count reloads of cached pages.
  • Differences in how sessions are defined. For example, some analytics software counts search bots as visitors, while other software doesn’t.
  • Google can only count visitors with JavaScript and cookies enabled. Some visitors might not allow cookies or JavaScript.
  • Customers can use browser extensions to block Google Analytics from tracking their sessions and purchases.
  • Discrepancies might be introduced because of different reporting time zones. Read about changing your Google time zone here.
  • It’s unlikely that identical tracking mechanisms are being used by each of the services, so your visitors aren't recorded equally. Details of recording mechanisms are proprietary information and are never shared.

Visitor number discrepancies

Some reports include a Visitors column to show how many unique people are connected to a particular action or trait. The total given is an approximation.

Some reports, such as Sessions over time, can have a customer counted as a visitor for multiple rows. For example, a customer might reach your store through social media, and then visit it directly a few days later. This results in both the Direct and Social rows showing a value of 1. Because both visitor numbers came from a single person, the total visitors value is also shown as 1 instead of adding them together for 2. In contrast, the Sessions column shows that the website was visited twice.

Other reports do add up the visitors so that an approximated total can be shown in the report. When the totals of these reports are used in other reports, the resulting total can be higher or lower than the addition of the individual rows.

Cookies are small text files that websites place on a user’s device as they are browsing. They are processed and stored by the web browser. Cookies are fundamental to many of the analytics collected and reported for your online store, especially those that speak to user behavior on your website (for example, number of sessions, pages visited, or links clicked).

Cookies can store a lot of information, sometimes enough to potentially identify a user. In many locations around the world, there are laws and regulations that determine what information can be collected, and when it can be collected. The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive are two important regulations that dictate when and how merchants in the EU can collect and use their users’ data.

If you’re a merchant operating in or with customers from the EU, EEA (European Economic Area, which includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), UK, or Switzerland, then you may have encountered this topic and made the necessary adjustments to your customer privacy settings. If you selected the "collected after consent" or “partially collected before consent” option, then there’s a possibility that your session-based data can be affected by users declining to give permission to use cookies for analytics or marketing purposes. In other words, you might notice a drop in session counts after changing this setting and changes to other metrics that use sessions in their calculation (for example, conversion rates).

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