As an online store owner, you should have a basic idea of who your site visitors are. This can be useful information because it helps you determine and plan many aspects of your store and improve sales.
Fortunately, there are several tools available to you that help you gauge information about your site's visitors and customers. Shift4Shop Store Owners tend to use these three:
- Shift4Shop Statistics Reporting (built-in to the cart on all plans )
- Shift4Shop LiveStats (available as an add-on)
- Google Analytics (available from Google)
Which one is more accurate?
While each of these tools report similar data to each other, it's important to note that the way the data is collected differs in each. So let's have a quick look at how they each collect data and what they each are well suited for:
Shift4Shop Statistics Reporting
This is the standard traffic reporting that is included on all Shift4Shop accounts. It analyses data by way of a special tracking cookie that runs on each page visit and records the applicable data.
This is a good gauge of store traffic in the fact that it is designed to record information based on your individual store pages as they are accessed.
Also known as "SmarterStats," this traffic analysis tool is available as an add-on to all of our plans. (It's Free with Professional Plus plans or higher!) This tool differs from the standard reporting in the fact that it analyzes data taken from the store's server log files rather than from a tracking cookie on the store front pages.
Smarter Stats is a good gauge of site traffic mainly because it analyzes everything coming into the site - at the server level. This includes bot and crawler traffic, visitor ISP information, individual filesize and request activity, store admin activity and more.
Google Analytics is a good gauge of web traffic in the sense that it analyzes organic traffic to the site and offers additional insights into the visitor statistics including their geographic locations and session times. It is also very useful for tracking the return on investment (ROI) of your various marketing campaigns.
As mentioned, each of these are reporting similar data, but data that itself is collected differently. Because of this, there are always going to be discrepancies between each of them. This is not to imply that one tool is more accurate than the other, but rather to point out that each tool may report on different components of the site.
For example, LiveStats will show incoming bot and crawler traffic, whereas Google Analytics and the built-in Shift4Shop Stats will not show bots. So you may see more hits on Smarter Stats than the other two. Similarly, Shift4Shop Stats and Smarter Stats will both show your admin traffic like CSV imports/exports and file manager uploads, but Google Analytics will not.
The point is that these tools should be used as a gauge to the site's traffic rather than a 100% accurate figure -- especially if you're using a combination of the three at the same time.
What does the built-in Stats Report show?
Since it's the standard version included on all accounts, let's have a look at the built-in Traffic Stats reporting.
To access your store's built-in traffic statistics:
- Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
- Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Reports >Statistics
This will take you to the store's Statistic Reports page which will provide you with a 30-day snapshot of the following:
- Top Referrers - Last 30 Days
Referrers are sites that directed first time visitors to your store. Typically the top most referrer will be your site. However, referrers can also include search engines, affiliated sites, or any other location in which the first time visitors landed on your store.
- Top Browsers - Last 30 Days
This line graph will show you a readout of the most common browsers accessing your site and how many visits were made on those browsers.
- Visitors/Hits Daily - Last 30 Days
This bar graph will show the number of hits and unique visitors to your site within the last 30 days.
Along the top of the page, you will see additional statistical reports that you can review. Clicking on these will take you to the report's page where you can view the data and also change date ranges for the data as needed.
Your additional statistic reports are:
This report will show the number of times individual pages were accessed on your store within the selected time frame. A pie graph will show the top accessed pages for the time frame. To change the time frame, you can either select one of the Date Presets at the top left or otherwise set a range using the drop down calendars along the top right.
This report will show you referrer information for the site's visits. As mentioned previously, referrers are sites or resources that directed first-time visitors to your site. This is the same report shown as the "Top Referrers - Last 30 Days" report mentioned above, but you can change the date ranges as needed.
This report will show you browser information for the site's visits. This is the same report shown as the "Top Browsers - Last 30 Days" report mentioned above, but you can change the date ranges as needed.
This report will show you the recorded screen resolutions used by visitors to view your site within the selected time frame. As with the other reports, you can change the time frames as needed.
This report will show you the recorded operating systems (Windows, Linux, etc) used by visitors to view your site within the selected time frame. As with the other reports, you can change the time frames as needed.
- Visitors/Hits (Daily)
This report will show the daily visitors and hits recorded on the site. This is the same "Visitors/Hits - Last 30 Days" report mentioned previously, but you can change the date ranges as needed.
- Visitors/Hits (Monthly)
This report is similar to the above, but rather than showing each daily hit/visit as an individual row, it will show this as a cumulative amount. As with the other reports, you can change the time frames as needed.
What's the Difference Between Hits and Visits?
- A "Visit" is a record of a connection to your site from an unique IP address. For example, a shopper going to your store. Their individual connection's IP address is recorded and marked as a visit.
- A "Hit" is any request for a file from the server. So if a particular page contains 2 images and 2 two scripts, then this will count as 5 "hits" (one for the HTML page, one for each image and one for each script)
- Bandwidth Usage
This report will show the consumed bandwidth that was recorded on your store for the specified time frame. It will show an itemized list for the bandwidth consumed during each day of the time frame, and a total at the bottom.
What is bandwidth?
Bandwidth is the amount of data transfer used on the store. Files have a range of file data sizes. When a request is made for a file, that file is transferred from the server to the visitor's browser/computer.
So, using another example, let's say you have a page with 2 images on it. The page itself is 24 kilobytes large, and each image is about 500kb in size. The total combined size of the page and its images is 1024 kilobytes or 1 megabyte.
If this page is visited 100 times in a given timeframe, then the bandwidth usage would reflect 100 megabytes.
This report will show your site's conversion rates for a given timeframe. The report takes into consideration the total number of visitors to the site and factors in the total number of orders placed and completed to arrive at a percentage. For example, if you have 150 visitors and 30 orders were generated during that time, the conversion rate would be 20%
Each individual report can also be exported into CSV or printed out as needed. (With the exception of the Conversion report which can only be printed.)