Category : Shopify
Six challenges in developing a Shopify integration
At the start of 2017 Littledata released its first Shopify app. A year on, here are my observations on the technical challenges we’ve overcome. This week we're at Shopify Unite in Toronto, and it's no surprise that their app ecosystem continues to grow. We chose Shopify as our first platform partner due to their open APIs, quality documentation and enthusiasm from other developers. Much of that has been as expected, but to help all of you looking to build your own Shopify app I’ll share some of our learnings on the hidden challenges. Littledata's Shopify app makes it a one-click process for stores to set up for Enhanced Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics, and then get actionable insights based on the Google Analytics data. It has to hook into Shopify orders and products, as well and modify the store's theme and process ongoing transactions. 1. Handling re-installs gracefully The great advantage of Shopify’s app store over, say, Magento marketplace, is that any store admin can install and pay for an app with a couple of clicks. The disadvantage is that stores can be as quick to uninstall as install. Store admins may start, realise they don’t have permissions, time or energy to continue and roll back to try again later in the day. Since our app inserts a snippet into the store’s theme layout (see point two below), uninstalling removes the web-hooks we set up but does not remove the inserted snippet. When a store re-installs our app has to work out what state they were in when they uninstalled (audit, test mode or live), whether the script snippet is still there and what settings have been changed in the meantime. It took us a few months to get a handle on all the possible user flows, and we’ve found automated end-to-end tests to really speed up running through the different scenarios. In our Meteor framework we use Chimp [link] to run tests through Selenium on localhost and on our staging server. We've also found it essential to track our own stats of 'installs + activations' (including the date of first install and time to finally uninstall) rather than relying on the Shopify Partner stats of uninstalls and installs, which can hide the detail in between. 2. Working with script tags The other side-effect of making apps easy to install is that you can assume the early-adopter stores who will try your app already have lots of other installs. Shopify recommends using the Script Tag API to handle scripts linked to the app, so that when a store uninstalls your app it also removes any client-side scripts from the store. Unfortunately, in early tests we found the load latency to be unacceptably high: on some stores, only 50% of the page load events were getting fired before the user moved off the page. So plan B was add a snippet to the store theme, and then load this snippet at the top of the <body> element on all the layout templates. This has worked much more predictably, except when theme editors remove the snippet reference without enquiring what the Littledata app does (see our fifth challenge). 3. Charge activation vs authorisation Now a very simple gotcha. In our first month we had around 60 installs at a flat price of $20/month, but apparently no revenue. After investigation we found we had not activated the recurring charges after the store admin had authorised them. Doh! We're still not sure why an app would want to have authorised charges which are not activated -- seems like over-engineering on Shopify's side -- but luckily it was easy to correct without asking for more user permissions. 4. Tracking adds-to-cart The first version of our app tried to run the script when customers got to the ‘/cart’ page of a store. The problem here is that many stores have AJAX or ‘mini’ carts where customers can checkout without every visiting the cart page. We looked to trigger the script before the user got to the cart the page, but this appeared to run too many risks of interfering with the customer actually adding the item. Our final solution has been to poll the Shopify store for the current cart, and see if products have been added (or removed) since we last polled (and stored the previous cart contents in memory). This is somewhat inefficient, as it requires continuous network activity to grab the cart JSON from Shopify, but we’ve reduced the network requests to one every 4 seconds – judging that customers are very unlikely to add a product and checkout in less than 4 seconds. This cart polling has proved more reliable across different store templates. 5. Integrating with other Shopify apps I mentioned that early-adopter stores tend to have lots of other apps: and those apps have loyal customers who push to make Littledata's app to work their chosen app (not just vanilla Shopify). The challenge is that most of these app development companies run a very Agile process, constantly changing how their app works (hopefully to improve the experience for store owners). An integration that worked a few months ago may no longer work. We've found the best solution to be open developer-to-developer communications, via a Slack guest channel. Having the developers implementing the features on each side talk to each other really cuts down the delays caused by a well-meaning project manager slightly misinterpreting the requirement. 6. Handling ongoing updates As tested improved client-side tracking scripts, we needed to update the script in the store theme (see point 2 above). This creates a small risk for the store, as there is no UAT or test environment for most stores to check before going live with the new script. The store theme may also get edited, creating new layout templates where the Littledata snippet is not loaded. In the first version of our app we tried to update and re-insert the latest Littledata snippet automatically on a weekly cycle. However, once we reached hundreds of active installs this became unmanageable and also opaque for the store admins. In the latest version we now allow store admins to UPGRADE to the latest script, and then we check all the correct Google Analytics events are being fired afterwards. Giving the end user control of updates seems a better way of maintaining trust in our brand and also removing risk: if the update goes wrong, it’s quicker for us to alert the store owner on how to fix. Conclusion I’m still sure we made the right choice with Shopify as a platform, as their APIs, partner support and commercial traction are all number one in the ecommerce world. But I hope that by sharing some of the hidden challenges in developing Shopify integrations, we can all build better apps for the community. Have you built something for the Shopify app store? Are there development problems you’ve encountered which I haven’t shared here? PS. Are you a developer interested in joining an innovative analytics company? We're hiring in multiple locations!
How Littledata helps Shopify stores comply with GDPR
When the GDPR regulation comes into effect later this month, it will impact all websites trading with EU citizens. That means any ecommerce site with customers in Europe! Is your Shopify store ready to comply? We recently updated our Shopify app (since release 7.8) to help Shopify stores which use Google Analytics comply with GDPR. In addition to automatic fixes to help your store comply, we include recommendations for how to update your site content (such as Terms and Conditions), and how to deal with the new 'two year rule'. If you're running a Shopify store, the time to act is now. Automatic fixes with our Shopify app The first two steps are done automatically when you install our GDPR-ready Shopify app. If you're already using Littledata's Shopify app, these two fixes can be applied when you upgrade to our latest tracking script (version 3.2). Here's what they address. 1. Anonymise customer IP addresses The IP address of your website visitor is considered personal information under GDPR, and to remove any risk that this is sent to Google’s servers in the USA, our script scrambles the last few digits of the IP address. Google already promises not to store the IP address, so this step is an extra level of safety. This slightly reduces the accuracy of tracking which city your visitor came from -- but we believe that this is a small price to pay for ensuring anonymity. 2. Filter personal emails and ZIP/postcodes from pageviews Many sites accidentally send personal data in the page URLs or titles tracked by Google Analytics. For example, apps with their own checkout often send the user email as a URL parameter like ‘/firstname.lastname@example.org’. Our script now filters that personal data out at source, so the page path you’ll see in Google Analytics is ‘/url?email=REMOVED’. Additional manual steps There are two additional manual steps to ensure that Google Analytics for your Shopify store is GDPR-compliant. 3. Update your terms and conditions You need to update your website T&Cs to ensure users are aware of the Google Analytics Advertising Features that our Shopify app activates and Google uses to identify user demographics, such as gender and interests. We are not lawyers, but we suggest using something similar to these sentences to describe what data is collected, how you (and we) use the data, and how how users can opt out: Our site uses Google Analytics Advertising Features to deduce your gender, age group and interests based on other types of websites you have visited. We use this in aggregate to understand which demographics engage with areas of our website. You can opt out with Google's browser add-on. 4. Remove user-specific information after 2 years You should also change the data retention period for your Google Analytics web property, so that Google removes all user-specific information from their database after 2 years. To make this change, logging to your GA account and go to the Settings cog, and then Property > Tracking info > Data Retention. Use the 'data retention' drop-down menu to select to keep user data for 26 months, and mark 'reset on new activity' to ON. This means that after 26 months, if the user has not come back to your website, any user cookie will be deleted. We think this sensible to comply with the Right to Erasure without making any practical limits to your analysis. Right to Erasure feature coming soon! We're also working on a feature to help websites comply with the Right to Erasure or Right to be Forgotten. Here's a summary of that aspect of the regulation, from the summary of key changes at EUGDPR.org. Right to be Forgotten Also known as Data Erasure, the right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data. The conditions for erasure, as outlined in article 17, include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject's withdrawing consent. It should also be noted that this right requires controllers to compare the subjects' rights to "the public interest in the availability of the data" when considering such requests. Littledata's Right to Erasure feature will ensure that when you delete a customer from your Shopify admin interface, any references to that customer are deleted from Google Analytics. This won’t affect aggregate reporting, such as number of web sessions or transactions. When do GDPR regulations take effect? The official enforcement date for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is 25 May 2018. At that time any organisations in non-compliance may face heavy fines. In short, we recommend implementing the fixes above ASAP for your Shopify store. All you need is Google Analytics account and our Shopify app. And do check our blog regularly for updates. This is the best place to hear about new Littledata features relating to GDPR, as well as news and analysis about how the regulations affect different types of online businesses, including ecommerce websites, subscription businesses, and membership-based sites such as large charities and nonprofits. Looking for additional support? Contact us about GDPR consulting for analytics setup.
New webinar: Google Analytics for Shopify stores
Have you ever been browsing the Shopify app store and wished that you could hear directly from founders and app developers about how their products work? Our new free webinar lets you do exactly that! We're dedicated to providing free learning tools for Shopify stores. In the webinar recording below, you'll hear directly from our CEO and Product Director about how the Littledata reporting app works for Shopify sites on the growth path. Interested in automating your Google Analytics reporting? Great. Confused about how to connect your marketing campaigns to checkout steps and buying behaviour? No problem - we've got you covered. Problems are our business :) Google Analytics made easy for Shopify stores Join Edward Upton to get the lowdown on optimising Google Analytics for Shopify. Put on your thinking caps and get ready for Shopify Reporting 101. In the recorded webinar, Ed gives a product overview and covers a range of FAQs: Common issues with Shopify's native reporting How to get accurate data across the customer life cycle with Google Analytics Who uses Littledata How our automated reporting works The connection between marketing and revenue Our live webinars are designed for ecommerce sites, marketing agencies and everyone in between. We adapt the content based on questions from participants, so please don't hesitate to reach out with questions and suggestions. Ready for smarter growth? Sign up for a free trial of our Shopify reporting app today! The trials extend to all plans, so you can fix your analytics and fully test our feature set. PS. If you're looking for info on our Shopify app integration partners, check out these posts on ReCharge and Refersion.
How to add Littledata's code snippet to your Shopify store templates
Treasure hunting tools for Shopify stores (VIDEO)
These days, you can sell just about anything online. From subscription boxes to charities, everyone is using websites and mobile apps to enhance the customer journey. But even if you advertise on the right channels, how do you know if your marketing is working? And how do you connect that traffic to revenue? Watch this quick video to see how the right analytics setup will help you avoid getting shipwrecked on the seas of ecommerce, whatever you might be 'selling' online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE4nzZycVLE Google Analytics can take you much deeper than Shopify’s native reporting, but setting it up correctly is difficult without the right tools. Littledata gives growing Shopify stores a clear map of shopper behaviour, from marketing campaigns -- how people find you -- to the intricacies of buying behaviour: what customers buy, how they buy it, and who will want to buy more. Our Shopify reporting app automatically audits your Google Analytics setup to make sure you’re tracking everything you should be, and tracking it correctly. We give you accurate data and smart reports on everything from marketing channels like Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter, to product performance and shopping cart activity, including details like checkout steps and voucher codes. The app makes it easy to tie every aspect of your store back to revenue, so you can make decisions like a captain instead of drifting along in the back of the boat and drawing the map as you float along. And we integrate seamlessly with other popular Shopify apps, including ReCharge and Refersion, so your analytics will always match every touch point in the customer journey. Sign up for free today and we’ll start building a personal treasure map for your Shopify store. Pricing is based on transaction volumes (but you're free to upgrade to a higher plan at any time), and all plans include a free 14-day trial!
Shopify vs Magento: How to choose an ecommerce platform
How do you choose between Shopify and Magento? Hostinger's Laura Ramonaitytė breaks down the differences between these popular ecommerce platforms. Taking your offline business online, or starting a new online business from scratch, can be overwhelming. However, if you take time to do research and choose the right ecommerce platform for your particular business, you'll alleviate stress and have a much greater chance of success. With so many options in the market, it can be difficult to know that you're making the right decision. Nevertheless, your first preference should be choosing a platform that can fulfil not just current but also future requirements of your online store, at least as much as you can estimate those future needs. To help you make this difficult decision, we've compared the two most popular ecommerce platforms: Shopify and Magento. We look at a number of different categories and performance areas, so make sure to read through the entire post to help you make the best decision for your business. Core differences Before starting the detailed comparison, let’s take a look at some core differences between Shopify and Magento. Shopify is a complete ecommerce platform, while Magento is free and open-source software. For Shopify, secure web hosting is included in all main subscription plans, whereas for Magento you need to set up your own hosting. Both platforms have technology ecosystems with apps and themes to help you customise your site and track online sales and marketing, but Shopify's app store is much more robust and developed, with over 2,000 apps available since they opened to third-party developers in 2009! Let's dive deeper into differences between the platforms. Pricing These platforms handle setup and operating costs differently. Shopify provides a 14-day free trial. After that, users need to purchase a monthly subscription (you can start the trial and then decide on a plan, which is a nice touch). Users can choose from 3 main subscription plans, currently ranging from $29-299 per month, plus lite (for basic selling via Facebook and 'buy' buttons) and enterprise (Shopify Plus) options. Shopify is a fully hosted platform, which means you pay a flat fee per month for a plan that includes hosting. It's worth mentioning that credit card charges and transaction fees can be extra. On the other hand, Magento offers two pricing options: Magento CE and Magento EE. Magento CE (Community Edition) is free for download and use, and you are not required to buy any monthly subscription. It can be a perfect option for small and mid-sized businesses. Magento EE (Enterprise Edition) is another option, ideal for larger online stores and established businesses. The price depends on the size of your business. You can find the exact pricing by contacting Magento specialists and requesting a quote. Startups.co.uk estimates that the costs for setting up and maintaining a Magento EE site are a good fit only for larger ecommerce sites and enterprises: To give some indication, a very basic Magento shop selling less than 6,000 products, that uses pre-made Magento themes, will cost you in the region of £20,000 to £40,000. On the other hand, if you have cheap web hosting, a Magento CE site using a free theme could be quite affordable, as long as you have the expertise to maintain it. Conclusion: Shopify has fixed pricing while the cost of Magento depends on different factors such as the costs of hosting plans, technical support and plugins. If you're an experience ecommerce developer, Magento probably gives the best cost-benefit. Otherwise, Shopify is a better deal. Templates and Designs Elegant templates and designs are a crucial part of any online store. The template which looks and feels good can attract more people and eventually earn more revenue. Screenshots from the Seaside style of the Providence theme for Shopify Shopify has it own theme store, where users can look for beautifully designed, highly-responsive templates and themes. However, since Shopify is a hosted shopping cart, users get limited options for customizations. That said, Shopify's themes are awesome for plug-and-play. The themes are organized by industry, such as Furniture or Clothing, and also by type of store, such as themes optimised for stores with very small (or very large) inventories. Shopify themes generally cost over $100 but include useful features like Instagram product feeds. Screenshots from the free Absolute Theme for Magento Since Magento is open source and has been supported by a large developer community from the start, it has a range of template options. There are free and paid themes available in the Magento Marketplace, and most are mobile responsive, but there is also a huge variety of free and paid themes available from independent front end developers around the world. It's worth noting that some Magento stores with solid coding experience do create custom themes on their own as well. Here's a guide to theme development if you're running Magento 2. Conclusion If you're looking for more theme options and customization, Magento is the winner. On the other hand, why start from scratch? Whatever you're looking for, it probably already exists in a Shopify theme! SEO Optimization If you are starting your online store from the ground up, it is necessary for you to pick the ecommerce platform that has SEO capabilities as well. Nowadays, more than half of all online purchases begin with an online search in search engines like Google and Bing. Therefore, it is crucial that ecommerce platform you have chosen supports various search optimization techniques. In our analysis, the overall SEO score for Magento is 95 out of 100 whereas Shopify's SEO score is 98 out of 100. Shopify is a highly SEO-optimized platform that has all the basic and advanced SEO features in all its plans. You can easily edit your title tags, meta description, page URLs, according to your requirement. Besides this, you can also customize your image file name and also edit alt tags as per SEO requirements. Like Shopify, Magento is also a fully SEO-optimized ecommerce platform that supports extensive SEO functionality. Along with basic SEO settings, it also provides some advanced SEO options, including canonical tags for separate categories and products, robot.txt files, image optimization, meta tags for products and home page. Conclusion Both platforms seem equally competent in terms of SEO optimization. As long as you have an organized content strategy, you can take advantage of the SEO capabilities of either platform to get more traffic. Customer Support Reliable support is more important than anything else. As a newbie, you may need to access customer support many times in a day. Consequently, invest in the company that has better technical support and back up based on what your needs might be. Shopify provides 24/7 technical support, which means that you can access support day and night whenever needed. There are three ways you can access their customer support team: Email Support Phone Support Live Chat Magento’s customer support does not include any official service. However, you can look for answers to your queries in its extensive developer community, Magento Forums, and in their documentation. Almost all platform-related queries are already answered there. Conclusion: This is the category where Shopify is definitely the winner. Final Thoughts In conclusion, both Shopify and Magento have various stunning features and they can manage your online store efficiently and help to boost your revenue. Magento is an open source platform and is more flexible, but you need to have the staff and knowledge to develop it. Features, customer support and ease of use probably make Shopify a better ecommerce platform for a standard ecommerce business. I hope this post inspires you to dig deeper and make an informed choice before launching your online store, whichever platform you choose. There are other platforms available as well, such as WooCommerce (Shopify vs WooCommerce), so don't just pick one randomly! Hostinger is a leading worldwide cheap web hosting provider.
Our top 5 posts from 2017
We're an ecommerce analytics company, so it's no surprise that Shopify and Google Analytics top the list of topics in our most-read and most-shared posts of 2017. But what continues to surprise us is how many online businesses know that their analytics setup needs to be fixed, but put off the decision to take action. Luckily tools like our Shopify reporting app are making it easier than ever to get accurate data and automated reporting that really drives revenue. If fixing your tracking and making decisions based on trustworthy data wasn't your main new year's resolution for 2018, it should be! Here are the top 5 posts from our analytics blog in 2017. They should provide some inspiration. 1. Is Google Analytics compliant with GDPR? From May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force in the European Union, causing all marketers and data engineers to re-consider how they store, transmit and manage data – including Google Analytics. This popular post looks at basic and full compliance. The rights enshrined by GDPR relate to any data your company holds which is personally identifiable: that is, can be tied back to a customer who contacts you. 2. Shopify Marketing Events vs Google Analytics The ability for other Shopify apps to plug their campaign cost and attribution data into Shopify (via the new marketing events API) is a logical step to building Shopify’s own analytics capability, but is it really a viable substitute for Google Analytics? Google already has a team of hundreds working on Google Analytics, and it seems unlikely that Shopify will be able to dedicate resources to keep up with the functionality that power users need. 3. Is Google Analytics accurate? 6 common issues and how to resolve them How do you know if your Google Analytics setup is giving you reliable data? In this much-linked blog post we look at common problems and explain what can be done to make your tracking more accurate. If the journey of visitors on your site proceeds via another payment processor or gateway, you could be losing the link between the sale (or goal conversion) and the original marketing campaigns. 4. How to increase revenue with Refersion and affiliate marketing Affiliate marketing consistently outperforms other channels for ecommerce businesses. In this special guest post, our integration partner Refersion shares essential tips about how Littledata customers can get a piece of the action. When customers come through affiliate channels, their average customer revenue is 58% higher than other channels. 5. What you can track with our Shopify app Here at Littledata we believe that everyone should have access to professional-level analytics tools for tracking, reporting, and improving sales and engagement. That’s why we built the ultimate Shopify reporting app. This much-shared post outlines 'Shopify’s Standard Tracking vs Littledata for Shopify'. It's a match we're betting on! Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms on the planet, but their standard analytics are extremely limited.
6 essential benchmarks for Shopify stores
Understanding how your website performs versus similar sites is the best way to prioritise what to improve. In this post we take a look at 6 top benchmarks for optimising Shopify store performance. Accurate benchmark data is especially useful to the increasing number of ecommerce companies using web performance benchmarks, such as bounce rates and home page reliance, as core elements of their sales and marketing KPIs. Understanding benchmarks is a key to success. To put together this new benchmarking report, we analysed current data from 470 Shopify retailers. If you're wondering how you compare, check out our Shopify analytics app. Average order value Average order value (AOV) or Average revenue per paying user (ARPU) is the total monthly revenue divided by the number of users which transacted that month. It is a measure of how well you are up-selling and cross-selling your products, depending on your product mix. What is a good average order value for Shopify stores? The benchmark is $69. The average is slightly lower ($63.50) if you are a smaller Shopify store. More than $120 AOV would put you in the top quartile, and one of our top-performing stores in the luxury ecommerce sector is averaging $2,080 per order! If your Shopify store has a lower AOV than the benchmark, you might try increasing your average checkout value by cross-selling other products, offering free shipping above a minimum threshold or increasing pricing on selected products. Ecommerce conversion rate Ecommerce conversion is the number of purchases divided by the total number of sessions. Most visitors will take more than one session to decide to purchase, but this is the standard measure of conversion rate. It is a measure of how good a fit your traffic is for your products, and how well your site converts this traffic into customers. What is a good ecommerce conversion rate for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 1.75%. Larger stores have pushed this to 1.85%, and if you are more than 2.8% you are in the top quartile. The highest conversion rate we’ve seen on Shopify is 8%. Can you increase the conversion rate with more attractive product displays, or improving the checkout process? Enhanced ecommerce tracking will help you identify exactly where the blockers lie. Bounce rate from mobile search Since more than 60% of Google searches are now done on mobile, ensuring your site design works on a small screen is important for branding and sales. Bounce rate is the percent of visits of only one page – and will be high if your landing pages do not engage. Google will even adjust your mobile ranking for a given keyword depending on what proportion of visitors stick on your page - a good indication that your link was useful. What is a good bounce rate from mobile search for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 47.5%. The biggest Shopify stores have got this below 40%, and overall large retailers have 38% mobile bounce rate. So it’s not a problem with the Shopify platform, so much as a problem with the store theme – or how the options and products are displayed on a smaller screen. Can you improve the first impressions of the landing pages, put key content higher up the page, or decrease the page load speed to reduce that bounce rate? Delay before page content appears The delay between a page request by the user and them being to read or click on that page. This is more important than full page load speed for AJAX / lazy loading sites (also called the ‘DOM Interactive Time’). What is a good delay time before page content appears? The benchmark for Shopify stores is 2.75 seconds. Even larger retailers have this down to 2.8 seconds, so Shopify sites do well on this score. Anything less than 3 seconds is generally acceptable. Internet users are increasingly intolerant of slow sites. Your developers could look at Google PageSpeed Insights for more details. Often the delay will be down to extra scripts which could be delayed or removed. Server response time This is the part of the page load speed which is entirely outside of your control – and due to the speed of the servers your site runs on. What is a good server response time for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 322ms. The average for larger ecommerce is 542ms – so Shopify’s server infrastructure is serving you well here. Reliance on the homepage This is the percent of visitors who land on your homepage. If this is below 40% you rely heavily on your homepage to capture brand or paid search traffic. Google increasingly rewards sites with a greater volume of landing pages targeting more specific keyword phrases. What is a good reliance on homepage percentage for Shopify stores? The benchmark is 32%. Larger Shopify stores, with many more landing pages, have reduced this to 7.3% of traffic landing on the homepage on average. Can you build out product landing pages and inbound links to copy their advantage? Ready to benchmark your own website, stop playing guessing games and start scaling your ecommerce business? Our Shopify reporting app is the easiest way to get accurate benchmarking. Install Littledata today and you'll get instant access to up to 20 relevant industry benchmarks for ecommerce sites, plus the tools you need to fix your analytics for accurate tracking, so you'll always know for sure where your website stands. It's all about smart data that helps you focus on making changes that drive revenue and increase conversions. We're here to help you grow!
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