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Shopify’s GA4 Integration

Data Analytics

Shopify have recently launched their long awaited Google Analytics 4 integration, allowing the platform’s users to migrate over to GA4 before the sunsetting of Universal Analytics in July. While it is quite easy to setup, we have found that it does not take advantage of GA4’s ecommerce reporting capabilities to the extent that Shopify had previously done for UA.

In this blog, we’ll go over what the Shopify GA4 integration does (and what it doesn’t) and tell you whether you should use it or not.

Overview

Last year, Google announced that their previous version of Google Analytics, the long running Universal Analytics (UA), would be sunset in favor of their new version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4).  The updated “event-based” data model and increased flexibility of GA4 has meant that it is incompatible with data collected from UA, meaning that everyone who wants to continue using Google Analytics will need to migrate across.

In late March, Shopify released their Google Analytics 4 integration and since then we’ve set it up on our test store and looked over the data it sends.

One of the challenges that Shopify faces when it comes to a GA4 integration is the need to make a one-size fits all solution that works for all the different stores on their platform. If you have ever tried to track Add-To-Cart events on different Shopify stores, you’ll understand how much of a challenge that can be. Adding to the challenge is GA4’s increased flexibility, which allows you to better tailor GA4’s analytics to your specific needs, but also needs more setup to meet those needs.

In light of these challenges, it looks as if Shopify have taken a minimal approach to their GA4 integration, tracking the very basics of their ecommerce funnel (Item Views, Add-To-Carts and the checkout funnel) on top of the regular page views and store searches that GA4 collects automatically. 

Much like their UA integration, these events only fire on the base Shopify functions, so if you have added extra Add-To-Cart buttons or custom features to your website, these are likely not to be included in the tracking. Surprisingly, they also do not track customer IDs on purchases or coupons code usage. 

Events

Here is a list of events that the Shopify GA4 integration sends:

  • page_view – Captures basic user and page data when a user visits a page on your website

  • search – Tracks when a user searches something on your website and the search term they used

  • view_item – When a user looks at a product’s details page. If your product has variants, it will send the first item details of the variant selected.

  • add_to_cart – When a user adds a product to their cart (Note: This only fires if it is the regular add to cart button on the product’s details page. Any custom add to cart buttons may need extra setup to track)

  • begin_checkout – When a user begins the checkout process on the store. This is usually when a user arrives at the Customer Information page of the checkout

  • add_payment – When a user fills in their payment details. This event will fire when a user enters correct details and clicks Pay Now, even if the payment details are rejected

  • purchase – When a user successfully makes a purchase on the store

What data is captured?

GA4’s product data model uses a different structure to the way Shopify stores product data. So to send the product information to GA4, Shopify has had to translate its data to fit within GA4’s requirements. Below is what product information Shopify sends to GA4:

  • Item Name: <Product Name> – <Variant Name>

The integration merges Product Name and Variant Name to send to GA4. For example, if your store sold a White T-Shirt as a product and the variants were Small / Medium / Large, they would appear in GA4 as White T-Shirt – Small. This means that its easy to see how individual variants are performing, but more difficult to get an understanding of the top level item’s performance.

  • Item ID

This uses Shopify’s Product ID and not the SKU.

  •  Item Category

Shopify only sends one item category and confusingly uses the Product Type rather than Product Category.

  • Item Brand

Item Brand uses the product’s vendor.

  • Item Variant

This uses the product’s variant name from Shopify. So if your variants are t-shirt sizes, then this would appear as “Small”.

Who should use it?

If you are a small store or just starting out, then go ahead and use the GA4 integration. It will setup the basic events so you can track your basic funnel and see which products in your store are doing well.

But if you’re a bigger, more mature store that utilises a custom theme with additional functions such as upsells or custom add to cart buttons, then you’re likely going to need more than just the out-of-the-box GA4 integration. Also if you’re running Google Ads or marketing promotions that use coupon codes, then you may also need more custom tracking for your store.

With that said, if you haven’t quite yet migrated to GA4, it is probably worth activating the GA4 integration just to get some data flowing in before setting up the custom tracking. And if you do need help with setting up GA4, then get in touch and we can find out what we can do for you.

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