February 2, 2023

Fixing Untracked Shopify Orders in Google Analytics

Untracked Shopify Orders in Google Analytics are a major issue for many Shopify users. Here is how we have fixed this problem.
Solving Untracked Shopify Orders

What causes Google Analytics and Shopify order discrepancies?

As many businesses know, there are a number of scenarios that can impact Google Analytics’ (GA) ability to track every single one of their Shopify orders . Cookie tracking prevention, ad blockers, and high request limits are all reasons why we may not expect to see our figures tally up between the two systems. There are some steps that can be taken to make sure you are getting as many orders reconciled as possible, however, it’s likely that around 5% of orders simply cannot be tracked, rising to 12-15% during peak season.

Recently at The Data Refinery, we’ve seen a big influx in customers where this number has skyrocketed towards the end of last year. Nothing in their tracking set up had changed, however we were suddenly seeing as high as 85% of orders not being picked up in the normal way by GA. We’ve also seen a big increase in the volume of forum chat around the issue which is always an indicator that something strange is going on.

What has been the impact of untracked Shopify order in analytics?

Google Analytics provides an important function as the intermediary between e-commerce systems (such as Shopify) and marketing systems (Google Ads, Bing Ads, Meta Ads etc.). It’s through this system that marketers and analysts are able to measure the effect that their campaigns are having, and crucially if they are translating to the right kind of sales. Marketing spend for B2C businesses can often be between 5 and 10%  of revenue, so it’s vital that spending decisions are backed up by evidence.

If only 15% of the data you need to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing spend is available, it’s clear that this issue was a major problem. At The Data Refinery, we take much of the leg work out of reporting by pre-aggregating many of our reports. This means quicker time to insight and better decision making. As such, we are acutely aware of how important the role of Google Analytics is to businesses

How do we fix Shopify and Google Analytics sync issues?

Our product provides continuous monitoring of how many orders are tracked in GA and how many have slipped through the net. When the numbers started to climb, we knew it was imperative to investigate what was going on.

Discourse on the internet seems to be divided on which system is causing the issue, but what was clear was the values for identifying each Shopify order in GA were starting to differ in format meaning a straight forward 1 = 1 join between the systems was no longer going to be sufficient.

Our investigation into the issue unearthed a population error which allowed us to implement some custom logic in our pipeline which can handle which ever value is placed in GA to identify each order.

Just like that, the worrying untracked order numbers dropped back down to their previous levels, meaning our customers were able to get back to making informed and data backed marketing decisions.

This is a problem that could be affecting a huge number of ecommerce businesses across the globe from around August last year. What's really worrying is that not everyone will have discovered that there’s an issue (we alerted a few of our customers to the fact that there was a problem before they even realised). We’ve now rolled this fix out across our clients so they can be confident that they’re seeing the best connected view of their data and performance possible. This is our day job – we're obsessed about our customers data and insights so that they don’t have to be.

If you’d like us to help you link your data sets together so you can have confidence in your tracking and performance, get in touch here:

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Data Scientist at The Data Refinery

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