After analyzing the data discrepancies between Google Analytics, Facebook and Adwords in a previous post, we decided to take a look at another common problem that is encountered by some ecommerce stores, and that is transactions discrepancy between Google Analytics and Woocommerce and Shopify – two of the most popular shopping cart software systems.
Although this post is focused only on discrepancies between Google Analytics, Woocommerce and Shopify, usually the same causes are at the root of mismatches occurring on any other shopping cart software systems.
So the most common causes of transactions mismatch between GA, Woocommerce and Shopify are:
Alternatively, some users opt out from being tracked by Google Analytics using the Google Analytics opt-out add-on which also prevents GA to collect information about their site visits.
Orders being added through admin back-end – In a Woocommerce store, depending on how the Google Analytics tracking is installed and configured, many times when an admin user is logged in, Google Analytics tracking code will not fire, thus the transaction and session will not be recorded. So when a logged-in admin user adds an order from the back-end, Woocommerce will record that order while Google Analytics not.
Improperly installed GA ecommerce tracking – Both Shopify and Woocommerce are prone to errors in the Google Analytics ecommerce tracking, especially if some customizations have been made, either in the theme or the tracking script/plugin. Additionally, on some occasions, errors from a completely different script may interfere with the Google Analytics installation, preventing data to be sent to GA. So in this case the transactions will be under reported in Google Analytics.
On the other hand, in instances where transactions are over reported, the most likely cause is the duplicate transaction that is being sent by the improper ecommerce installation.
So for example if the tracking installation does not filter out duplicate transactions, and the user refreshes the thank you page after the default session time has passed (30 minutes) or comes back to it via a bookmark, a duplicate transaction will be sent to GA, thus causing transaction over reporting in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics filters – Although not a common issue, sometimes the view which is used for reporting has some filters that is preventing some sessions and transactions to be recorded. For this reason, it is important to always have a raw, unfiltered view in Google Analytics.
Users exit the website right after paying – On some occasions, users might exit the website right after paying, without waiting for the thank you page to load, thus preventing the transaction information to be sent to Google Analytics.
Refunds, tests, canceled orders – Woocommerce and Shopify handle refunds and test and canceled orders much better than the most Google Analytics ecommerce tracking installations so this is another potential cause of the transaction mismatch.
Different currency codes – Although not related to transaction discrepancy (but still about ecommerce data discrepancy), if your online store uses a different currency than the one from your Google Analytics view, then Google Analytics will automatically convert the transaction amount to the currency that is set in your view, thus causing data mismatch.
Google Analytics data sampling – Google Analytics reports are not sampled by default, but in some cases, when your account gets lots of sessions or when segments are used, the report may contain sampled data. In this case, some transactions may now show. To learn more about data sampling in Google Analytics please read this article.
Using different time zones – If your Woocommerce or Shopify store uses a different time zone than your Google Analytics account, then when you compare data for the same time period on both platforms, you will get different result.
Too many products included in one transaction – this is very rare but still occurs from time to time. If the transaction data which you are sending to Google Analytics includes many products, and has a size bigger than 8 kb (around 8192 Latin character), then GA will not record it.
With all of these discrepancy possibilities in mind, we can safely view a 5-7% discrepancy as something normal, as that is the most likely average discrepancy that almost all ecommerce stores with a properly installed tracking get.
However, if your discrepancy is bigger than 7%, than you need to find the cause and fix it. Luckily, the majority of these discrepancies can be fixed, so that the mismatch rate would fall in the 5-7% regular range.
It is also very important to understand that Google Analytics is not an accounting software and was never meant to be used like one, so it’s wise to not expect unrealistically 100% accuracy in its tracking.
On this note, it is very important to view Google Analytics as a marketing tool that shows you where your business is heading and uncovers the direction (good or bad) of your marketing activities rather than as an accounting tool.
In this light, we can safely view Google Analytics as a high precision marketing tool and not as a 100% accuracy accounting software.
If you are experiencing some discrepancy in transaction reporting and don’t know the cause of it, we are offering an in-depth, Google Analytics audit in which our experts will check if your Google Analytics is installed and configured correctly. We will also list all the other errors or misconfigurations that we might find.
When submitting the audit form, if you have some transactions mismatch, please write some details about them in the comments field, so that our experts would take a closer look at the issue.