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Understanding Shopify Analytics and How to Use the Data to Grow Your Online Business (2022)

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In times when consumer trends and needs change in the blink of an eye, it’s becoming important for online businesses to keep a close watch on their performance. From what used to be about offering the best of products and deals, growing a business today has become more about being able to present the right products at the right time, adapting to trends and offering deals as per buyer purchase behavior. 

And the only way to keep up with it all is to go back to number crunching – the one thing most new DTC brands fear. 

But to make it simpler for your business to become more data-driven, Shopify offers an in-depth Analytics and Reports dashboard within your CMS. 

It’s here to help you keep track of all the key ecommerce metrics with ease, even if you just logged in to upload a new product. 

In this blog, we’re going to tell you all about the Shopify Analytics features and how you can use it to your advantage. 

  • What is Shopify Analytics and why do you need it?
  • Understanding Shopify Analytics and Reports 
  • Frequently asked questions 

Shopify Analytics is a reporting dashboard in-built into the ecommerce platform to help merchants easily review their store’s performance. This includes recent activity, insights into the visitors, online store speed and the transactions made on the storefront. 

Think of it as an analytics dashboard similar to Google Analytics; wherein you don’t need to switch platforms or tools to measure how your business is fairing. 

Now if you’re wondering why analytics and reports really matter, let us give you a few reasons: 

  • Make better business decisions 
  • Optimize your marketing and advertising spends 
  • Promote your brand on the right sales channels 
  • Identify the best products to sell online and offline 
  • Understand consumer expectations and demands 
  • Meet consumer demand with better inventory management 
  • Increase your profit margins with data-driven planning 
  • Keep your finances in control 
  • Manage your taxes better 

Note: If you have an online store, you get access to the basic Analytics and Live View. But if your store is on the Basic Shopify plan or higher, you can access more reports. For more information on the same, click here

Now let’s tackle all the analytics and reports you get on Shopify one by one, and how you can use them to run a successful business. 

  • Live View 
  • Analytics 
  • Reports
    • Acquisition
    • Behavior 
    • Finance 
    • Inventory 
    • Marketing 
    • Order 
    • Profit 
    • Retail sales 
    • Sales 
    • Product analytics 

Additional reads: 

1. Live View

Live View is basically what the name suggests – it gives you a real-time view of all the activity happening on your store. 

It  includes a world map and a globe to also show you where the activity on your store is coming from and some other key metrics to let you know what that activity is resulting in ‘right now’. All the information displayed here is shown in your store’s local time. 

What are the metrics shown in Live View? 

Metric

What it shows

Visitors right now

Number of visitors who have been active on your online store in the past 5 minutes. An active visitor is one that is viewing a page or has clicked a button. 

Total sales

Total value of sales based on the orders on your online store and from other sales channels since midnight. 

Total sales is equal to the (gross sales − discounts − returns + shipping + taxes).

Total sessions

Total number of sessions on your online store since midnight in your store’s local timezone (this is the time zone you have set during store setup). 

Total orders

Total number of orders that get placed on your online store and from other sales channels since midnight.

An order is when an online shopper completes the checkout process and payment for a product. 

Top locations

The geographic regions where the most visitors to your online store are located.

This chart displays data since midnight in your store’s local timezone.

Top products

The products that have generated the highest in total sales for your online store since midnight in your store’s local timezone. 

First-time customers

Customers that haven’t previously placed an order from your online store.

Returning customers

Customers that have previously placed an order from your online store.

Customer behavior

Number of sessions in your online store in the last 10 minutes that have resulted in add to carts, checkout process trigger and purchase completion. 

  • Active carts: In the last 10 minutes, the number of sessions with one or more items to their shopping carts. 
  • Checking out: In the last 10 minutes, the number of sessions with one or more items to their shopping carts, proceeded to the checkout, and submitted their contact information, such as their name, address, and so on. 
  • Completed: In the last 10 minutes, the number of sessions with one or more items to their shopping carts, proceeded to the checkout, and then actually purchased the items. 

How can you use Live View? 

Optimize your storefront

Understand how visitors landing on your store interact with your site to identify what engages them the most, the moments at which they proceed to completing a purchase and when they tend to drop off from your site. The customer behavior insights are your actionables to optimize a visitor’s buying journey on the website. 

Understand your customer demographics 

The real-time view of where your customers are coming from and how they interact with your storefront gives you more insight into your target market. This helps you narrow down your ideal customer persona – especially if you’re a business that sells PAN India or across the globe. 

Optimize your marketing/advertising efforts 

With a real-time view of store activity and visitor data, you can keep your marketing and advertising campaigns well-optimized for better ROI. For instance, if you’re seeing traffic coming from a particular location more than the others, and leading to successful sales, you can double down your campaign to promote the deals to more people from that geography. 

Identify your key sales channels 

As an online business, if you’re selling on more than one sales channel (which you should), it’s important to know which one is leading to traffic on your store. Use the Live View to understand which of the sales channels gives you the best of results whenever you launch a new product or a new deal for your target audience. 

Identify your best-selling products 

It’s important to note that not all products will sell at the same pace and the orders you get on each may vary based on your targeting or what’s trending in the market. With Live View, you can see which of your products sell out the most during a period of time, season or when you launch a specific sale/ discount/ offer/ perk. 

Plan your inventory better 

With real-time data on what you’re selling the most and where, Live View gives businesses a chance to plan their inventory better. This helps in preventing stock-outs during sales and faster order fulfillment. 

2. Analytics

Now the Analytics page shows you the most valuable metrics that give you insights into the performance of your store and the behavior of the traffic you’re driving to the website through marketing, advertising and other sales channels. 

Here, you get the ability to see data in a specific data range that you’d like to measure metrics in. Unlike Live View, the data here is not real-time and has been recorded to completion in a previous time span other than the ‘now’. 

What are the metrics shown in Analytics?

Metric

What it shows for the date range

Average order value

Shows the average value of all orders (excluding gift cards), divided by the total number of orders that contained at least one product. The order value also includes taxes, shipping, and discounts before returns.

Online store conversion rate

Shows the percentage of sessions that lead to placing an order, and is applicable only on the storefront (not your sales channels). 

A conversion is mapped at 3 key stages of a buyer’s journey: 

  • Added to cart: Number and percentage of sessions in which shoppers added one or more items to their shopping carts. 
  • Reached checkout: Number and percentage of sessions in which shoppers added one or more items to their shopping cart, proceeded to the checkout. 
  • Sessions converted: Number and percentage of sessions in which shoppers added one or more items to their shopping carts, proceeded to the checkout, and then completed the purchase. 

Online store sessions by device type

Shows the number of sessions on your online store and what kind of device was used to access your store (this metric is only for your online store, and not sales channels). 

The most common device types are mobile, desktop, and tablet. 

Online store sessions by location

Shows the number of sessions on your online store sorted by country (applicable only to online store and not sales channels)

Online store sessions by traffic source

Shows the number of sessions on your online store based on how the visitors accessed your store. 

The most common traffic sources are:  

  • Search
  • Direct
  • Social
  • Email 

Online store sessions from social source

Shows the number of sessions on your online store originating from social media platforms that you’re using for marketing and advertising. 

Repeat customer rate

Shows the percentage of your customers who have placed more than one order from your store. The rate is calculated as returning customers divided by total customers. 

Sales by POS location

If you have point of sale/ physical store locations, this metric shows the amount of sales that originated from each location.

Sales by social source

Shows the amount of sales that originated from social media sources, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others. 

Sales by staff

If you have point of sale/ physical store locations, this lets you see the amount of sales that were handled by each staff at a particular location. 

Sales by traffic source

Shows the amount of sales that came from each traffic source. 

Top landing pages

Shows the specific pages on which your customers started their sessions on your online store. 

Top products by units sold

Identify your best-selling, trending and top products based on the number of units that actually get sold. 

Top referrers by sessions

Shows the number of sessions to your online store that came directly from other websites. This usually includes:

  • Direct: The customer entered your store’s URL into their browser.
  • Search: The customer clicked your store from a search engine’s results page.
  • Email: The customer clicked a link to your store in an email.
  • Social: The customer clicked a link on social media.

Total online store sessions

The number refers to how many different sessions occurred on your online store within a specific date range. 

Total orders

Shows the number of orders that were placed within a specific date range or in all time. 

Total sales

Shows the sales amounts, sorted by sales channel in all time or for a specific date range. 

Sales attributed to marketing

Measure the total sales value generated by traffic that can be associated with your marketing efforts. 

How can you use Analytics? 

Refine your ideal customer persona 

If Live View gives you real-time insights into who you need to target through marketing ‘now’, Analytics gives you enough data to create documented customer personas. You can leverage data over different periods of time to see where your traffic comes from, how they interact with your store, the average order value and more, to create multiple personas that you can eventually target with more personalized campaigns.  

Optimize your product pricing 

Analytics gives you an insight into the average order value your store generates in different periods of time. This value represents how much an online shopper tends to spend on your store, helping you price products to suit their budgets more to get more products sold, while keeping your profit margins in mind. 

Optimize your deals, discounts and offers 

Every consumer is different and as an online business, you will need to experiment with different types of deals and discounts. This may include offering percentage discounts, amount discounts or perks like discounted/ free shipping. With insights on conversions, you can identify which of these tend to drive more purchases. 

Streamline your marketing and advertising spend

Being where the consumer is, can be tough. But more importantly, it can result in increasing your promotional spends. With data on which marketing channels drive more traffic and which ones actually result in sales, you can streamline your efforts towards those that drive higher ROI. 

Reduce your bounce rates/ Improve on-site conversions

The insights into your traffic and conversion sources, and your top landing pages, gives you an opportunity to tailor the buyer’s journey to tip in your favor. Use the data to identify what type of customers land on the pages, customize the text and call to actions to give a better first impression, and drive better engagement. This can also help you lower your bounce rates over a period of time. 

Identify product trends 

Take a look at your top-selling products over different periods of time. Look for purchase patterns around different seasons, occasions or just different times of the month/ year. With these insights, you can not just plan your marketing better, but also chalk your inventory in a smart way to meet consumer demands better. 

Strategize for low-selling periods

Every store goes through its ups and downs. Take note of when you tend to see the most traffic and actual sales, and when things tend to slow down for your business. These insights will help you strategize better for the low-selling/ slow periods both in terms of inventory planning and your marketing efforts. For instance, you could run FLASH SALES during these periods to keep the traffic and sales consistent for your store. 

Improve customer engagement and retention 

Your return customer rate is a good insight into how solid your established customer base is. In times when the competition for consumer attention is increasing by the day, you need a set of people who always choose you. Combine this insight with data on your traffic and conversion sources, to create a strategy that is focused on keeping existing customers engaged with your brand. 

Create better sales channel strategies 

Identify your top-performing sales channels both in terms of the traffic and conversions that they drive. Look into the type of products or deals these consumers are purchasing, and create channel-specific strategies to leverage them better. For instance, if you see books selling better on one channel, you can actually stop promoting your clothing range there and keep your efforts more focused. 

3. Reports 

If you want to further deep dive into your store’s performance, marketing and conversion data, the next step is to understand the different reports in Shopify Analytics. These reports are smartly segmented based on different aspects of a consumer journey as well as your business’s journey. 

Here are the reports available in Shopify Analytics (based on the plan your store is at): 

Acquisition reports

The acquisition report gives you data on the number of sessions and visitors your store has received over a period of time. It does not show converted sales or the amount of orders that have been placed on your online store during the same period. It includes: 

  • Sessions over time: Shows you the number of visitors and sessions your store has seen for the set date range. 
  • Sessions by referrer: Shows you where visitors are coming to your store from (direct, search, social, referral). 
  • Sessions by location: Shows you the locations from where visitors are accessing your store. 

How to use acquisition reports? 

  • Identify your top traffic sources to narrow down your marketing and advertising spends 
  • Take note of where majority of your traffic comes from geographically to plan localized campaigns or offers 

Behavior reports

Get an in-depth look into how the sessions and the visitors your store gets interact with your brand. The behavior report gives you insights into what consumers are looking for, how they typically search for the products, when they make additional purchases and so on. This report includes the following: 

  • Online store conversion over time: This is the percentage of online visitors that make a purchase over a selected period of time. It includes data on the number of sessions, add to carts, checkouts initiated, sessions converted and conversion rate. 
  • Online store speed: Keep a close watch on your store speed performance as the traffic to your site increases/ decreases. This has an impact on the shopping experience you offer, and therefore the conversion rate you achieve. 
  • Product recommendations conversions over time: If you’re leveraging product recommendations to introduce more items to a visitor during their session, this metric is a measure of how successful they are at converting this visitor into a customer. This includes data on the number of clicks a recommendation gets, add to carts and completed purchases. 
  • Top online store searches: The original query column here gives you a look into the specific term visitors use to search for products. 
  • Top online store searches with no results: This gives you a breakdown of search terms that your store did not display a result for. 
  • Sessions by landing page: This section gives you a look at the pages that tend to be the first to land on for an online shopper. 
  • Sessions by device: Take note of the type of devices your target audience makes use of to access or browse through your website. 
  • Online store cart analysis: Helps you understand a customer’s purchase behavior and preferences by showing you products added to the same cart in the last 30 days. 

How to use behavior reports? 

  • Create better product descriptions to help visitors make an informed purchase 
  • Optimize your storefront journey from the point of landing on the site to checkout 
  • Personalize your marketing and advertising campaigns based on consumer behavior 
  • Create upsell and cross-sell strategies for your best target audience 
  • Create promotional pricing and product bundles based on purchase patterns 
  • Optimize your storefront experience to deliver a seamless shopping experience across devices 
  • Create streamlined marketing campaigns based on cart analysis to increase average order values 

Customers reports

This report is an insight into the different customer segments based on their journey with your brand. It also additionally equips you with data on average order count, average order totals and expected purchase value from each segment. Here are the segments you can see: 

  • Customers over time: Show the total number of people who have placed an order on your store. 
  • First-time vs returning customer sales: Shows you a breakdown of order values from first time and returning customers. 
  • Customers by location: Shows data on new customers acquired, grouped by their geographical location. 
  • Returning customers: Shows the number of customers whose order history includes two or more orders from the store. 
  • One-time customers: Shows all the customers whose order history only includes one order from your store. 
  • At-risk customers: Shows the number of customers who have a probability of buying from you again, but have not placed an order in 30 days or more. 
  • Loyal customers: Shows returning customers who tend to purchase more actively from your store. 

How can you use customer reports? 

  • Create customer segments based on concrete data around store activity and purchases made 
  • Identify your loyal customers to create personalized campaigns targeted at keeping them engaged 
  • Reduce customer walk-outs/ churn by re-engaging at-risk buyers with engagement campaigns or exclusive deals and offers 
  • Create localized marketing campaigns and offers to appeal to location-specific customer segments 
  • Strategize to encourage one-time buyers to engage with your brand more actively by promoting loyalty programs, perks, etc 

Finance reports

This report key financial information about your business, including the spend on the bill and fees you pay to Shopify to run your online storefront. Here’s what the financial report includes: 

  • Summary: Overview of your sales, payments, liabilities, and gross profit data for the selected timeframe. 
  • Sales: Overview of your sales finance reports, including gross sales, discounts, returns, net sales, shipping and taxes. 
  • Payments: Overview of the different payment methods used by customers to make a purchase and order values of each. 
  • Liabilities: Overview of your gift card sales and the tips received. 
  • Total sales: The total sales value equates to gross sales – discounts – returns + taxes + shipping.

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about finance management better, you can learn more about each of the above in detail here

How to use finance reports? 

  • Understand your business spends better 
  • Keep track of additional expenses 
  • Monitor your sales and profit margins closely 
  • Optimize your product pricing, deals and discounts 
  • Stay on top of your taxes to keep up with government rules and regulations 

Inventory reports

The inventory report gives you a month-end snapshot of your inventory, helping you keep track of the quantity and percentage of inventory sold per day. This report includes the following insights: 

  • Month-end snapshot: Quantity of each product variant you had in stock at the end of the month. 
  • Average inventory sold per day: Average number of items of inventory sold per day by product variant.
  • Percentage of inventory sold: Percentage of each variant’s inventory sold that is sold from the total starting quantity during the selected period
  • ABC analysis by product: Products that account for 80%, 15% and 5% of your revenue. 
  • Product sell-through rate: Percentage of your total inventory you’ve sold during the selected time period
  • Days of inventory remaining: How long your tracked inventory is estimated to last, based on your average sales rates for each variant, and the amount of inventory you have left.

How to use inventory reports? 

  • Identify your top-selling products and product variants 
  • Identify your high profit-margin inventory 
  • Optimize product pricing to increase profits 
  • Predict inventory requirements in specific durations of time/ season/ year 
  • Plan your inventory better to meet consumer demand 

Marketing reports

If you have started marketing campaigns to promote your store – paid and organic, make sure you’re measuring how effective they are. The marketing report makes it much simpler to see how effective your strategies are in driving conversions and sales. Here’s what a marketing report includes: 

  • Referrers: Channels and sources that are driving traffic to your website. 
  • Interactions: A customer may land on your store through different channels and sources; interactions help you identify referrers at each stage. 
  • Average order value: The average amount spent by customers driven through a specific referrer. 
  • Sales attributed to marketing: Sales that can be attributed to trackable marketing efforts (including the UTMs you make use of for external marketing efforts). 
  • Sales vs payments: The amount of sales you have made, and the actual amount you have received in payment based on the payment modes you offer. 

We recommend reading about Marketing Reports in detail before leveraging them. This will help you keep your marketing and advertising budgets well-optimized to drive higher ROI and ROAS. Learn more about Marketing Reports in Shopify here

How to use marketing reports? 

  • Identify your top traffic sources to keep the top of the funnel of your store fueled 
  • Identify your top conversion sources to invest more in channels that results in actual sales 
  • Understand the number of interactions and channels it takes to convert an online shopper
  • Attribute clear average order values to referrers to strategize promotions for better profit margins as per spends 

Order reports

The Order report provides an insight into your order volume, fulfillment, shipping, delivery, and returns. This helps you see through a complete order lifecycle. The report includes: 

  • Orders over time: The total number of orders received during a selected period of time. 
  • Product orders: The number of products and the products that are your best sellers. 
  • Returns: The number of orders and the products that get returned the most. 
  • Fulfillment, shipping and delivery times: The total time it takes for orders to move through the entire fulfillment process, from order receipt to delivery. 
  • Fulfillment over time: Number of orders fulfilled, shipped and delivered. 

How to use order reports? 

  • Understand customer experience and expectations from products and shopping experience 
  • Collect feedback from customers based on order data to gather insights and actionables 
  • Optimize your logistics to improve post-purchase experiences and evaluate shipping partners 
  • Identify your most returned products to revert inventory for quality analysis 

Profit reports

Profit reports are those who want detailed insights into your costs, margins and profits. This report provides you with the following information: 

  • Profit by product: See the gross profit by product over a selected period of time. 
  • Profit by product variant: Shows the gross profit per variant of a product over a period of time. 
  • Profit by point of sale location: Gross profit by the location at which you’re making a sale. 
  • Discounts and refunds: Shows your net sales and profit margins after providing discounts on orders, or refunds. 

How to use profit reports? 

  • Optimize your product pricing for better profit margins 
  • Identify your high profit margin and low profit margin products and product variants 
  • Plan your upcoming product launches based on profitability using past product data 
  • Strategize your discounts and deals to account for more profits 
  • Optimize your refund and return processes to lower your loss of margin 

Retail sales reports

If you have an offline store running, this report is a great way to keep track of your performance and benchmark it against your online store’s success. Here are some metrics it includes to help you make better business decisions: 

  • Retail sales by product: Total sales of products, minus the shipping.  
  • Retail sales by product variant SKU: Gross sales of your top selling products and variants, minus the shipping. 
  • Retail sales by product vendor: Shows your vendors, and the products provided by each vendor, grouped by point of sale location.
  • Retail sales by product type: Shows your retail sales by product type, grouped by point of sale location.
  • Retail sales by point of sale location: Shows the total sales for each point of sale location. 
  • Retail sales by staff at register: Shows you the sales made by each staff at the point of sale.  
  • Daily retail sales by staff at register: Shows the daily sales made by each staff member at the point of sale.  

How to use retail sales reports? 

  • Plan your offline inventory better based on product sale and location sale data 
  • Benchmark your business revenue from offline and online sales 
  • Invest your resources (human, time and money) based on performance 
  • Make strategic business decisions to expand functions and target market served 
  • Improve employee experiences and salaries based on in-store performance 

Sales reports

A sales report is similar to your retail sales report. It helps you see information about your customers’ orders based on criteria such as sales over time, by product, or by channel. Here’s what it includes: 

  • Sales: Includes every line item in an order and the shipping charge applicable on it. 
  • Return: Orders that get delivered to the customer and then reverted back to you. 
  • Canceled orders: Orders that were placed in a particular duration of time and then canceled before delivery. 
  • Sales vs payments: The amount of sales you have made versus the payment you actually receive depending on the processing fees of the payment modes you choose. 

How to use sales reports? 

  • Identify the number of successful and unsuccessful sales 
  • Conduct timely surveys to reduce returns, refunds and cancellations 
  • Optimize your delivery experiences to offer faster fulfillment 
  • Offer payment methods that are not just easy to use for consumers, but also offer optimized processing fees 
  • Keep track of your cash flow before, during and after a sale is made until the time they payment comes to you 

Product analytics

When you start selling online, it’s important to keep a close watch on products that sell fast and those that are struggling to get out of the door. The product analytics report gives you an insight into your product performance over a period of 90 days. It includes the following for each product on your store:  

  • Net sales: Product unit price multiplied by the total number of units sold, subtracted by the discounts and returns. 
  • Sales breakdown: A breakdown of all values that factor into net sales; net sales is found by subtracting discounts and returns from gross sales.
  • Net sales by channel: Sales channels that generated the most net sales for the product in consideration. 
  • Net units sold by traffic source: Traffic sources that brought customers to a product, resulting in getting a unit sold. 
  • Customers: Number of customers that purchased the product from your store for the first time. 

How to use product analytics? 

  • Identify your best-selling and slow-selling products 
  • Plan better marketing and advertising campaigns for different products based on channel and traffic data 
  • Create promotional strategies such as discounts, deals and perks per product based on channel and traffic data 
  • Create upsell, cross-sell and product bundles to get slow-selling products sold 

Note: Depending on the plan your Shopify store is on, you may have access to all the reports above. But you can also set up custom reports based on the metrics and business aspects you want to keep track of. Learn more about it here

Don’t put analytics aside 

We know data can be overwhelming. 

By offering Shopify Analytics and Reports, our goal is to reduce your dependency on third party ecommerce analytics tools, and make it simpler for you to measure your business’s success. 

Each segment of Shopify Analytics and Reports caters to the different functions of your business – planning, marketing, advertising, fulfillment, finance management, taxes, revenue and so on. 

This helps you methodically understand how your brand is growing online (and offline in some cases), and make business decisions that are driven by concrete data and not assumptions. 

Ready to put Shopify Analytics to work? 

See the types of analytics and reports available on your subscription plan here

People also asked

Does Shopify offer analytics?

Yes, Shopify does offer analytics and reports on their dashboard. It gives you the means to review your store’s recent activity and performance and an insight into your visitors, storefront performance and sales. This feature is available to everyone who has a store set up on Shopify.  

Is Shopify Analytics the same as Google Analytics?

While the purpose of the tool analytics solutions is to help you measure your store’s performance and growth, they are fundamentally different in how they collate data. We recommend using Shopify analytics as your single source of truth for all the sales you make on the online store as Google Analytics only offers an approximation of the same. Shopify Analytics gives you insights such as average order value and new/ returning customers as well. 

Is Shopify Analytics accurate?  

Shopify Analytics is accurate as it directly pulls data from the activity that happens on your storefront. From page views, store visitors to transactions, the data source is direct instead of being gathered from multiple sources of information. Hence the accuracy of the numbers across your customer’s journey is better. 

How does Shopify analyze data? 

Shopify makes use of the activity on your storefront to analyze and offer data on the analytics dashboard. You can access this dashboard by heading over to your Shopify Admin > Analytics > Dashboards. If you have a number of marketing and sales apps installed on your store, the reporting feature of Shopify also pulls in insights from them to offer a complete picture on the overview dashboard. 

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