Shopify & GA4: Understanding the Basics of GA4 for Shopify Owners

Shopify & GA4: Understanding the Basics of GA4 for Shopify Owners

A simple, friendly introduction to GA4 for Shopify store owners

It’s official. The ‘sunset’ on Universal Analytics has happened and we’re nearly two months into the era of Google Analytics 4 (or ‘GA4’). 

If you use Shopify or Shopify Plus for your ecommerce business, it’s likely that you’ve already had a go at using this new version of Analytics.

Whether you love it, loath it, or are just finding it a bit frustrating - this post serves as a friendly introduction to GA4 for Shopify owners. Without drowning in the technicalities, we want to help you start using (or getting used to using) GA4 so you can confidently access the most important areas for your ecommerce business.

And for any businesses that have never used any version of Google Analytics before - this post will put you in good stead for integrating Google’s free analytics platform with your site.

What does the new Google Analytics (GA4) mean for Shopify users?

The core changes that GA4 brings for Shopify users are:

  • Data Collection Standstill in UA: Data is no longer collecting in your Universal Analytics (UA) account. That being said, we have noticed that data has still been trickling in for some UA accounts during July and August however, June 2023 marked the last official month where businesses have a full 30 days of data sitting in their account. Remember that past data is intact, nothing will be deleted, it’s just that no fresh data will be pulled in.
  • Automatic GA4 Account Creation: Even though GA4 has been available since October 2022, many businesses and websites have been slow to adopt it. If you haven’t set up a GA4 account yourself (and provided you had a UA account previously), you’ll find that you have an automatically created GA4 account. But don’t just rely on the fact that you have a new GA4 property setting there (Luke Carthy has an interesting article on why the auto migration feature for GA4 is a bad move). You’ll want to check everything is firing correctly and set up custom events to track (that’s a post for another day, but for now check out this video on Setting Up GA4 on Shopify Using Shopify’s New Google Analytics Integration)
    • A Fresh GA Interface: The new GA4 interface looks very different to Universal Analytics. GA4 is a bit like a sleek, minimalist kitchen where every tool and utensil is neatly tucked away. Universal Analytics on the other hand feels like you have everything and the kitchen sink in plain sight and on display.
    • Event-Centric Tracking: Unlike UA, which was primarily focused on sessions, GA4 is all about events. An event can be anything a user does on your site - from viewing a product to adding an item to their cart, making a purchase, or even just scrolling down a page. When you set up your account, you will already have some default events that are automatically collected by GA4. In Shopify, these will be:
      • page_view, when customer explored a page on your site
      • search, when someone looked up a product in your store's search bar
      • view_item, when a visitor checked out a product's details
      • add_to_cart, when a visitor added something to their cart
      • begin_checkout, when a customer decided to head to checkout
      • add_payment_info, when payment details were entered by a customer purchase, when a sale was completed
    • A Brand New Toolbox: Speaking more generally, with GA4 you basically have a new set of tools to learn. While this might understandably seem daunting, this knowledge is a power that can mean more sales for your store. Every new tool you get the hang of in GA4 is another way to optimise your business.

    example of the Shopify analytics interface

    How does GA4 compare to Shopify Analytics?

    Placing GA4 and Shopify Analytics side by side is tricky. It’s kind of like comparing an iPhone to a Nokia 3310. This is certainly no jab at Shopify nor the beloved Nokia. As a Shopify Agency, we truly love Shopify but here’s the breakdown of their differences:

    GA4 (The iPhone): Packed with capabilities and a broad range of features. GA4 is the comprehensive, hugely powerful analytics platform. It provides loads of in-depth insights and allows for the kind of granular data tracking and customisation that Shopify Analytics can’t provide.

    Shopify Analytics (The Nokia 3310): Direct, no-nonsense, and gets the main job done (in this case, data insights into your ecommerce business). Since Shopify Analytics is directly integrated into the Shopify platform, it hands you all those essential metrics like visitor count, sales, and conversion rates and so on. It's quick, convenient and easy to use. 

    In our opinion, we’d always recommend that ecommerce stores leverage every tool at their disposal to get a competitive edge. Especially one that’s as free and powerful as Google Analytics 4.

    Useful Areas in GA4 for Ecommerce Businesses

    E-commerce businesses don’t have to become GA4 pro’s to benefit from the platform. Instead, it’s worth knowing the places to go where you can get the insights you need.

    (It’s like getting to know a new city. you don’t need to know the name of every single street or where every supermarket is. Just your local, favourite coffee shops and where to go if you need a trim etc.)

    Here are a few useful areas we recommend Shopify store owners to check when digging for their data in their GA4 account:

    Website traffic: To find out where your website’s traffic is coming from in GA4 head to:

    Reports > Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition

    Ecommerce purchases: A pre-made report that shows sales data on the individual items in your ecommerce store. Access it via

    Reports > Monetization > Ecommerce Purchases

    ‘Basic Performance’ insights: This lets you quickly access data through a series of suggested questions like, ‘how many users did I have last week?’; ‘on what days do I get the most users?’; ‘what are my top pages and screens by views?’

    Insights > Suggested Questions > Basic Performance


    Reports > Engagement > Conversions

    Cart Abandonment

    Reports > Monetization > User Purchase Journey

    Conversion paths: Find out which combinations of channels led to a conversion

    Advertising > Attribution > Conversion Paths

    At Rainy City, we design and build effective and beautiful Shopify and Shopify plus stores. As part of every build, we make sure that every store we set up has Google Analytics 4 installed. Get in touch to find out more! 

    Helpful reads for Ecommerce businesses:

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    James McManus

    James McManus

    Shopify Growth Consultant

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