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Server Side Tracking: how to act when the transactions on Analytics are very different from the numbers recorded on the CMS

Server Side Tracking is an effective solution for obtaining reliable and accurate ecommerce performance data.

Many factors can influence the number of transactions tracked by Analytics tools, leading to differences in the numbers displayed on the CMS. A difference of 5-10% can be said to be normal due to the very nature of these tools.
When we implement Google Analytics or a similar solution on our website, we are installing a piece of code. This tracking code sends to Google’s server a series of information about the visit, the user’s profile, and his behavior.

The tracking is then called Client (or browser) Side since the tracking of user behavior on the website occurs directly on the user’s web browser. It is therefore directly the browser (client) that sends the data to the Google server.

Although Client Side Tracking is still the most common method of data collection, many factors can lead to incorrect or failed loading of the script, and thus a failure to count revenue.

These include:

  • Technical reasons such as page errors blocking the execution of code snippets
  • Problems with the CMS system in passing purchase data to the DataLayer
  • Access from countries blocking Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager (e.g. China)
  • Use of ad-blocking and anti-tracking tools by the user: extensions that are designed to block advertising, limit pop-up tabs, and filter web content. The working mechanism is very simple: users can decide whether to block ads on all sites or only on some, and the tool recognizes the URLs and prevents them from being displayed via JavaScript. The number of users using AdBlock and anti-tracking tools is constantly increasing. In Italy, about one-third of users use tools to block advertising on Chrome (source: Hootsuite).

The case of Shopify

In recent years, these issues have become increasingly prevalent on certain constantly changing platforms.
An example of this is Shopify, one of the most widely used ecommerce platforms, where in recent months we have noticed significant drops in tracked revenue, going from an average of 90% to percentages close to 60/70% in some Google Analytics properties.

As we have seen, there are many factors affecting this issue and it often takes an ad-hoc analysis to identify them, based on individual Shopify implementations and versions.
However, we have found that data loss is frequently related to the Shop Pay app, within the Shopify Payments group of payment methods. Since its implementation, we have noticed significant drops in Revenue and Tracked Orders in many properties.

How to solve the problem permanently?

It is not the first time that we have noticed major drops related to CMS updates or structural changes to the site.

To solve the problem permanently, one solution may be to migrate to the Server Side. With this type of tracking, the data exchange does not take place from the user’s client (browser), but with the request being sent directly from the Shopify server. This means that it is possible to overcome the limitations seen above and track 100% of the transactions made.

There are special applications available on Shopify that simplify the implementation of solutions of this type, such as Little Data or Elevar. These types of applications also allow us to supplement the sales data with very important additional information, such as return data or the tracking of recurring orders.

In this way, we were able to solve the problem once and for all, finally obtaining accurate and reliable data on performance and ecommerce KPIs.


In summary, differences between transactions on Analytics and numbers on the CMS are common and can be due to various factors, including technical errors, ad blockers, and Client Side tracking issues.

To address this problem permanently and ensure accurate data, one solution is to migrate to Server Side tracking. With this approach, data is sent directly from the server rather than from the user’s browser, thus overcoming the limitations of Client Side tracking and ensuring that 100% of transactions are counted.

This solution has enabled us to solve the problem once and for all, allowing our clients to have reliable data on their ecommerce performance, which is essential in a context where the use of ad-blockers and anti-tracking tools is on the rise.


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