Recently, we’ve talked to several prospective and existing clients who have all told us slightly different versions of the same story. These clients are solopreneurs or SME’s who are running Shopify-hosted businesses. For one reason or another, their sales have hit a plateau, and they want to level up their data game to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it.
Usually, at this point in the story, the anxiety starts to creep in. The solopreneur tells us that she doesn’t have the money to hire a data analyst and doesn’t have time to learn Google Analytics. Or the IT guy from the medium-sized company tells us that he doesn’t know anything about Shopify data and needs to keep the servers running.
In this blog post, we’re going to help Shopify merchants and data analysts understand the types of data that are already available on the Shopify platform. We’re going to show you how to access your Shopify data, and then we’re going to show you how to analyze this data to gain dynamic insights into your customer base.
Finally, we’re going to show you how integrating your native Shopify data with Google analytics data will let you perform robust analysis of your store and website traffic. This isn’t as hard as it sounds—especially if you have a cloud data platform like Panoply to help.
Our end goal with all of this is to make analyzing your Shopify data a little less scary and to help Shopify merchants go a little deeper under the data-analysis hood than they might be accustomed to. Once you can get past basic stock reports, you’ll see that Shopify’s native data reports contain a wealth of insight and information to keep your business growing.
Shopify reports are easy to access & run
So it turns out that Shopify makes a wealth of data available right from the backend. To access Shopify reports, log in to your admin area. From here, click on Analytics, and you’ll go to a dropdown menu showing all of the different data reports that are available.
As you can see, there are dozens of different reports you can run; it all depends on what you’re trying to find out and how you plan to use that information. In this section of our blog post, we’ll spend time discussing five of the different reports you can run on Shopify, although keep in mind, these five reports are just the tip of the iceberg.
We don’t want to bombard our readers with a bunch of data jargon, so for each one of these reports, we’ll explain the data it provides and then outlines a hypothetical scenario where it would be useful.
Five reports you can run in Shopify
Whether you’ve just logged in to your backend and clicked “Analytics” for the first time, or you’ve got a little experience and want to become more knowledgeable, here’s a quick rundown of five different data reports you can run right from the Shopify platform. If you’re going to learn about ecommerce data, this is an excellent place to start.
The Behavior reports let you parse fundamental data like sessions by device, meaning the number of customers using smartphones, tablets, and desktop or laptop computers.
The Behavior reports also contain the online store conversion over time metric, which refers to the percentage of visitors to your store who make a purchase.
For example, Shane A. owns a business on Shopify selling custom-made toolboxes for garages and home workshops. When he looks at his Shopify data, he sees a steady amount of traffic to his store.
He’s curious about how many of these visitors eventually purchase a product from his store. Shane accesses the Behavior reports and checks the sessions by device metric, which shows most visits to his Shopify store are from smartphones and tablets.
Shane also checks the online store conversion over time metric, showing that 18.4% of his visitors eventually purchase from his store.
With this information, Shane optimizes his Shopify store for mobile platforms and targets repeat visitors with a popup that offers a discount for ordering.
These reports give you access to a wealth of information about the finances of your small business. With this report, you can track payments, liabilities, gift cards, and total sales.
The total sales section shows the total number of orders for a given period, which calculates gross sales by subtracting discounts and returns and then adding taxes and shipping fees. The payments section shows transactions by payment method, splitting out methods like credit cards and gift cards.
In this example, let’s say Eman H. runs a business selling handmade walking sticks on Shopify. Over the holidays, Eman runs an aggressive marketing campaign and sends gift cards to 50 of her most loyal customers.
By the middle of January, Eman wants to know how many of the gift cards she sent out are redeemed. Eman accesses Shopify’s Finance reports and checks the payments section to find that her customers have redeemed 32 gift cards.
Looking at her total sales for the holiday season, Eman discovers that from October 31,2020 to January 1, 2021, her Shopify store generated sales of $11,043.27, after discounts and returns.
Eman decides to run a similar gift card promotion next Christmas and starts thinking about a similar sale for Valentine’s day.
With Customer reports, you can access data about who actually buys from your Shopify store. There is a hitch, though: Shopify’s Customer reports are limited to 250,000 users, so you’ll need Google Analytics if you need to go over that number.
With the Customer reports, you’ll see metrics like customers over time, which shows how many customers placed orders with your Shopify store. When you run this report, you can parse data by different time units by clicking the Group by dropdown menu.
The Customer reports also contain the first-time vs. returning customer sales metric, which parses the dollar value of orders placed by new customers and returning customers.
For this scenario, let’s say Geoff W. runs a Shopify business selling NFL merchandise. Geoff is thinking about launching a new marketing campaign to drum up a new business, but wants to get a better idea of his store traffic before going any further.
Geoff accesses the Customer reports and checks his customers over time metric, showing that over the first quarter of 2021, 6,503 customers visited his store.
When he checks the first-time vs. returning customer sales metric, he sees his first-time sales are up slightly, while his returning customer sales are down. Geoff is a little concerned about the drop in returning customers and starts thinking of promotions to win them back.
The Marketing reports provide insights into your marketing strategy’s efficacy. With Shopify’s Marketing reports, you’ll see data around metrics like referrer source, which shows you how customers who placed an order arrived at your Shopify store.
For an example of how the Marketing reports are useful, let’s say that Kara N. is selling handmade soaps on Shopify. Kara recently ran an email promotion, and she wants to see if the email campaign has driven any new traffic to her site.
Kara accesses the Marketing reports and checks the referrer source metric. For the most recent data available, Kara’s site had 74 email referrals, up from 43 the previous month, before running the promotion.
When Kara checks the referrer name metric, she sees that most of her paying customers are coming from Facebook. Kara considers running email campaigns once a quarter and brainstorms new ways to increase her store’s Facebook presence.
The Product Analytics reports show you how your product line has performed over the last 90 days. With this report, you can see which merchandise is bringing in the most sales and how customers arrived at your website.
Shopify’s Product Analytics reports contain metrics like sales breakdown, which parses all of the values contributing to sales. The sales breakdown metric is a Shopify store’s gross sales minus returns and discounts.
Another important metric in the Product Analytics reports is net sales by channel, which breaks out data by the number of sales across distinct channels like general marketplace (retailers like Jet or Amazon) and social media (Facebook or Pinterest).
For this scenario, let’s say that John L. is running a vintage Nike store on Shopify. John is doing a general data audit, and he wants to know his sales breakdown for the previous month. He also wants to see how his products perform across different sales channels.
When John runs a Product Analytics report, his sales breakdown for the previous month shows no returns and only two discounts, leaving him with adjusted sales of $8304.32. When he checks his net sales by channel, he sees an increase in traffic from his Pinterest profile.
With this information, he starts thinking of ways to use his store’s Pinterest profile to drive traffic to his Shopify store.
Don’t rely on Shopify data alone
Hopefully you’ve figured out by now that accessing your Shopify data doesn’t require a certificate in ecommerce analytics. But as useful as native Shopify customer data can be, it does have some drawbacks, and Shopify merchants and SME’s shouldn’t rely on it in isolation.
The limitations of Shopify data
The first big problem with Shopify data is that it’s inaccurate. As popular as the platform has become over the last few years, Shopify still fields frequent complaints about traffic numbers not matching up with Google Analytics. analytics discrepancies.
But there are other issues with Shopify data that merchants might not be aware of, such as:
- Some Shopify reports can only handle a certain amount of data; for many larger Shopify-hosted businesses, Shopify’s native data tools aren’t going to be enough
- Under Shopify’s subscription plans, lower-tier memberships like Shopify Lite or Shopify won’t get access to all of Shopify’s native data tools
- Shopify analytics is missing crucial data metrics like potential ROI and customer lifetime value.
- Some Shopify data reports generate with delays or gaps in the data
So, when you’re thinking about Shopify data, it’s important to remember that while Shopify does give you access to ecommerce data, it’s far from perfect.
If you want to get serious about data analysis, you shouldn’t use Shopify data in isolation. Instead, it would be best if you considered integrating Shopify analytics with Google Analytics.
Integrating Shopify & Google Analytics
We know there are Shopify merchants out there reading this who are terrified of Google analytics, but it’s not that hard. If you need to link your Shopify business to Google Analytics, check out this article from the Shopify Help Center.
By integrating your Shopify analytics data and your Google analytics data, you can:
- Go beyond simple reports to track sales events and social media campaigns
- Access session and purchase data to calculate customer lifetime value
- Customize segments to determine revenue differences between terms
- Segment your customer base to calculate potential ROI
- Rank landing pages to track sales on a page-by-page basis
- Quickly identify gaps and drop-offs in your sales funnel
Integrating Shopify & Google Analytics isn’t as hard as you think
If you’re curious about dealing with two separate data streams, a cloud data platform such as Panoply can do the heavy lifting for you.
We’ve put together this handy guide to help Shopify merchants get started with data analytics on the Shopify platform. Panoply comes equipped with native connectors for both Shopify and Google Analytics, which makes integrating the two data streams a snap.
Best of all, there’s no coding required, data warehouse configuration is automated, and there are native connectors to popular BI applications.
We hope this blog post gives you a clear idea of how much customer data already exists on the Shopify platform and how you can use it to win new customers and keep existing ones. To learn more about what Panoply can do for your ecommerce business, book a personalized demo today.