Shopify is the world’s leading ecommerce platform, with almost $50bn of gross merchandise sold through the 600k stores on its platform last year.

Online marketers are spending billions of dollars to acquire traffic for these stores, but there is a big problem: the Google Analytics setup for most stores is broken.

The result? Marketers cannot measure return on investment, which is increasingly critical in highly competitive ecommerce . They may be spending in the wrong places, or, campaigns that they deemed unsuccessful could actually be winners. Not good.

Ecommerce managers are also in the dark. They cannot track the full customer journey. They may not, for example, have accurate data on addto-cart rates, or – worse still – completed orders. Simply because Google Analytics hasn’t been configured correctly on their store.

We’ve found that the vast majority of Shopify stores have missing data. If you’re managing a store then I’ll help you to understand the problem, and show you how to put things right.

The problem

Shopify has an out-the-box integration with Enhanced Ecommerce events in Google Analytics – the gold standard for measuring product and customer engagement – but key steps are missing in this shopping funnel.

This is compounded by many stores using a mix of non-Shopify landing pages and checkout pages in their customer journey, where the cross-domain tracking is set up incorrectly.

These problems are relatively straightforward to spot, and fix. At Littledata we built a Shopify app to take care of this, but you can also do it manually. I’ll highlight the key areas that you should take a look at.

But before we get into the detail, let’s take a look at the data.

The data

Littledata looked at 590 Shopify stores who ran our free Google Analytics audit, but didn’t opt to fix issues. We found that just 70 sites had all of the ecommerce data tracked correctly in Google Analytics. The other 420 stores had serious issues.

Let’s put this into perspective. The average size of a store was $34,000 in monthly revenue and 36,000 sessions per month. The combined annual sales for the 420 stores that had broken analytics was north of $171m. Big bucks.

If our sample is representative then more than half a million Shopify stores have serious data issues.

The common issues

If you use Shopify and Google Analytics then there are five areas that you should definitely take a look at, to make sure that you are collecting data in the right way.

The most common tracking issues are as follows:

1. No product list views tracked (42%)

Seeing which product lists drive sales will allow you to better promote the best products and tweak page layouts. Some stores are also using this product list click information to power ‘customers also viewed’ recommendations.

2. Order volumes in Shopify do not match Google Analytics (36%)

Some orders aren’t recorded in Google Analytics, usually because a customer never sees the order confirmation page. This is an increasing problem with mobile checkouts – it is not uncommon for one in 10 orders to be missing from the reports using the standard Google Analytics integration.

3. Not opted into demographics tracking (33%)

Enabling demographics tracking in Google Analytics lets you get accurate data about user interests, as well as demographics for advertising and analysis. It is a one minute setup job, so this is the simplest of the five to fix.

4. Checkout steps are missing (25%)

Tracking the checkout steps (even on Shopify’s one page checkout) lets you see how customers exit at each stage of your checkout funnel. You can split out this data by delivery options and payment methods, to see if either are blockers to the final purchase step.

5. Add-to-cart details not tracked (22%)

Tracking exactly which products are added to cart allows you to visualise shopping behaviour, and retarget cart abandoners in AdWords.

Serious money

So, to sum up, almost nine out of ten retailers on the platform are missing key performance information. If you have a Shopify site then it is highly likely that you will need to fix one or more of the above tracking issues.

The opportunity cost of not knowing how to optimise spend and refine the customer experience is considerable, especially for the larger companies. Serious money is being left on the table (or wasted).

The good news is that you now have a checklist of five common Shopify analytics traps, and can ensure that your Google Analytics setup is error-free.

You will then be able to base your future decisions on accurate data. Happy times!