Buddy King

Account Executive

November 7, 2022

8 minute read

The 3 Pitfalls Of Shopify Tracking

Most business owners know that Shopify is an amazing platform that allows users to sell products online while keeping track of their inventory and sales. However, many people don't realize that there are also some downsides to using this platform such as relying on Shopify's data for tracking the source of your traffic and sales.

In this article, we will discuss the three main weaknesses of Shopify tracking. We hope that after reading this post, you will have a clear understanding of Shopify's data and how to ensure that you.

Inaccurate Data

Not all of Shopify's data is inaccurate.  Shopify's first-party data such as sales and revenue is extremely accurate. Additionally, any time a site visitor comes from a link that has UTMs, Shopify will accurately record that session with the UTMs.  Shopify also does a good job of recognizing "traffic referrer", or the last website that a user was on before visiting your store.

Where Shopify's data becomes inaccurate is when it is time to attribute your sales to the source that ultimately drove them. Let's say that you have an email series that you send out to your email list, and someone from your email list clicks on the links in one of your emails and makes a purchase on your store.  Shopify will have a really hard time recognizing that that sale came from your email series, and will most likely attribute this sale as "Direct Traffic" instead of "Email Marketing".  

If a user clicks on one of your Facebook ads and makes a purchase, then Shopify may recognize this sale as "Facebook Traffic" but it will not tell you which ad or campaign the sale came from.  You may be able to obtain some of this data through the use of UTMs, however, this method is limited as well. This brings me to my next point: limited attribution windows.

Limited Attribution Windows

Shopify uses cookies to record sessions on each store.  This limits Shopify tracking already because cookie data is becoming more and more limited, and soon enough third-party cookies will be a thing of the past.  If interested, you can read more about that here.  

Additionally, Shopify only records each session for 30 minutes. So, if a customer is inactive on your store for longer than 30 minutes, their session will end and Shopify will no longer attribute that session to the traffic referrer.  

So if a customer who clicked on your Facebook ad is on your website for 10 minutes, leaves your site, and comes back 22 minutes later -- Shopify will no longer recognize this customer as Facebook traffic.  So even if a Facebook ad ultimately drove your sale, Shopify will report this sale as again coming from "Direct Traffic".  Which brings me to my third and final point, Shopify struggles to recognize returning visitors.

Trouble Recognizing Returning Visitors

If you have already read everything above, it should not come as a surprise to you that Shopify struggles to recognize the original traffic referrer of returning customers.  

Shopify actually can tell if a user has been to your store before. This is why you are probably used to seeing that "sessions" in your reports are normally higher than "visitors" to your store. However, Shopify's ability to remember which website referred a user in the past is extremely limited.

When a customer clicks on your Facebook ad, goes to your store, and then comes back to your store a day later without clicking on any other ads in between, Shopify will still attribute that sale to "Direct Traffic".  Even if the customer clicked on your ad 10 times before making their purchase!

So what is the solution to the shortcomings of Shopify tracking? Third-party ad tracking software.

Cometly is a third-party ad attribution software that will accurately track the source of your Shopify store's sales. Through the use of UTMs and our advanced gen-2 Comet Pixel, Cometly will provide accurate insights into which advertising platforms, campaigns, and ads are driving your sales on Shopify.

Learn more about how Cometly can help attribute revenue back to the correct ads and understand where customers are coming from → Learn More About Cometly Ecommerce Attribution Solution