Why Shopify and Google might be counting your repeat customers incorrectly

Roy was comparing his repeat customer metrics in Shopify, Google Analytics, and Repeat Customer Insights and noticed they were all different:

How do you define "repeat purchaser"? Your numbers are way different from the numbers I get from Shopify and Google analytics.

Each system defines "repeats" differently.

In Google Analytics it’s based on their cookies. That means if someone visits and buys in 2016 and then comes back today, they’d be tracked as a repeat only if they still have their cookie.

The cookies are dependent on the device so they cannot easily detect the same person on their computer and on their phone. Also I think Google expires cookies after 2 years so a customer would have to come back within that time to refresh their cookie or they’d be counted as a new customer.

Finally, some people delete their cookies or switch browsers which means Google can’t track them.

Shopify on the other hand tracks repeat customers based on their purchases by their email address or if they created a customer account. This works across multiple devices and as far back as they use that email.

Repeat Customer Insights tracks repeat purchasers the same as Shopify (based on actual orders) with two differences:

  1. Shopify doesn’t track the historic value for the customer.

This means if a customer first ordered in 2016 and then orders again in 2018, Shopify would count the 2016 order as from a repeat customer. Even though that was the first order made by the customer and behavior-wise that customer was a new customer.

Repeat Customer Insights would count the 2016 order as being for a new customer and the 2018 order as a repeat customer.

Shopify paints too rosy of a picture which can get you in trouble in you use those repeat customer metrics.

  1. In the Customer Purchase Latency report you can shorten the window of time you’re looking at orders.

For example, if you’re looking at 2018 then only orders made during 2018 would count so the example customer above would be classified as a new customer if they only placed 1 order in 2018.

This helps you compare how different periods performed.

If you haven’t installed Repeat Customer Insights yet, it’s an easy way to get a detailed look at your actual customer behavior.

Eric Davis

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