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 and Customer number discrepancies

Some reports include a Visitors or Customers column to display 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 or Sales over time, can have a visitor or customer counted on multiple rows. For example, a customer might visit your store on one day, and then visit it again a few days later. This results in the rows for both days each displaying a value of 1. Because both visitor numbers came from a single person, the total 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.

In this example, the Visitors and Customers columns are displayed for a shop over a three month period. When the totals of columns with counts of unique people are shown in reports, the resulting total might be higher or lower than the sum of the individual rows.

Table of Visitor and Customer total discrepancy example.
MonthVisitorsCustomersSessions
Total261837
January10210
February11712
March9615

Impact of cookie-based customer data collection and analytics

Cookies play a crucial role in collecting and reporting analytics for your online store by storing small text files on a user's device while they browse. These cookies are processed and stored by the web browser, enabling the collection of valuable insights into user behavior on your website, such as session counts, page visits, and link clicks.

Cookies can potentially contain enough information to identify a user, and various laws and regulations worldwide govern the collection and usage of this information. Notably, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive outline specific guidelines for merchants operating in or with customers from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United Kingdom (UK), dictating how visitor data should be respected and collected.

If you're a merchant operating in the EEA or the UK, then you might have already encountered this topic and made the necessary adjustments to your customer privacy settings. When a cookie banner is active in specific regions, data is collected from visitors from those regions only after obtaining consent. Consequently, there might be a reduction in the amount of data available for analytics, marketing, and personalization purposes. This can be observed through decreased session counts and other metrics that rely on session data, including conversion rates.

To learn more about effectively managing your cookie settings, refer to the documentation on managing your customer privacy settings.

Conversion rate data discrepancies

If you’re using Shop Pay, then your conversion rate data from between October 28, 2021 and September 23, 2022 might not be accurate. Your actual conversion might have been higher than reported.

As of September 23, 2022, this reporting error is resolved and data is accurate. Historical data from the specified time period will still be affected.

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