Web analytics tools: 6 popular tools for ecommerce websites

If you run or work on an ecommerce businesses of any size, you need the right web analytics tools at your disposal so know what’s happening on your website.


Analytics provide valuable insights into how a website is performing, which pages are driving conversions and areas of the site that cause users to disengage. When used correctly, the data can build a picture of what’s happening when users are on your site. Also, analysing data from analytics tools alongside qualitative research can help you understand why users behave in a certain way on your site.

Regardless of budget, there are various tools on the market that make tracking, measuring, reporting and analysis so much easier. You can utilise this data to optimise your website, improve user experience and grow online revenue.

Here are 6 of the best tools available.


1) Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a popular tool for businesses, with 67.1% of the top one million websites using it as their preferred tool. It’s one of the few tools that have achieved outstanding satisfaction and market presence among both large and small businesses.

Google Analytics provides a robust service that tracks insightful data about your visitors’ behaviour such as the source they’re coming from, every single click they’re making, timings of their actions, or what they’re searching for.  With its enhanced ecommerce tracking, you can gain insight into your most profitable customers, most well-performing product lists, or leaks in your checkout funnel and use this to improve their experience on your website.

You can also segment data in Google Analytics to hone in on specific metrics important for your business (e.g. first time vs returning customers) and analyse user behaviour more accurately.

If you run an ecommerce business, having Google Analytics configured correctly is one of the most important tools for website optimisation.


  • It’s absolutely free.
  • The tool is easy to use and understand.
  • It’s powerful and flexible and supports advanced customisation. With a bit of creativity and enough development time, you can get answers to very specific questions about your users’ behaviour.


  • Because of its power, it’s also easy to implement advanced tracking incorrectly and misinterpret its metrics without properly understanding how it works.
  • There are some accuracy issues as it limits the amount of data it runs analysis on. It extrapolates results on a sample of data, which becomes problematic if you need accuracy at large scale or if you’re looking at long periods of time.
  • As it’s free, it offers limited features and strongly encourages you to opt for the paid version. There are a maximum number of goals, custom dimensions and custom variables, which isn’t suitable for large enterprises with a serious optimisation plan.


2) Google Analytics 360 (formerly known as GA Premium)

Google Analytics 360 is the paid version of Google Analytics. It takes the GA you know and love to the next level, and it’s aimed at larger organisations that need highly accurate data and more support.

You get all the great benefits of the free tool, but it’s more comprehensive and allows you to carry out more granular analysis of your website visitors.


  • It stores larger amounts of data than the free version.
  • You have access to expert support, including a dedicated account manager, implementation support, training and 24×7 emergency support.
  • You have the ability to do attribution modelling.
  • It’s natively integrated with Google Optimise 360, meaning you can do split-testing (but not multi-page testing) inside your web analytics tool (less set-up required and less chance of communication error between tools).


  • It can be very expensive.
  • The only factor distinguishing it from the free tool is the amount of data space.


3) Adobe Analytics

Although Adobe Analytics is similar to Google Analytics in terms of metrics you can measure, there are some notable differences. For example, variables can be stacked on top of each other so you can analyse a sequence of events, which you can’t do with Google Analytics.

This tool offers flexibility and you can customise reports to suit your business’ needs.


  • Provides good out-of-the-box analytics.
  • Overall, it’s a powerful and robust tool.
  • No sampling, but this is expected from a premium paid tool.
  • It connects the whole customer journey.


  • The cost is tailored for enterprise firms.
  • Initial set-up requires a skilled team due to the level of customisation.
  • It doesn’t provide real-time data like Google Analytics does.
  • There’s a steep learning curve, making it harder to bring new people up to speed.


4) Piwik

Piwik is an open-source tool that tracks website visits and provides reports for analysis purposes. Perhaps its most distinct feature is that it gives you ownership of data, something that Google Analytics doesn’t offer to the same extent.

With metrics such as source of visits, location of users and ecommerce tracking, it has all the elements you’d expect from any analytics tool.


  • No data limit.
  • Not remote hosted like Google Analytics, but hosted on your own server.
  • It’s open-source, so there are lots of plugins available.
  • No sampling of data.


  • Google Analytics beats Piwik in most areas.
  • The interface isn’t as user-friendly or visual as other tools.


5) Heap

The biggest advantage of Heap is that it automatically captures every single event on your site (form submission, clicks, swipes, etc.). You can do this without wasting time tracking and waiting for the tool to collect data before being able to carry out analysis.


  • Offers automatic event tracking (you often need technical support with other tools for this).
  • Segmentation and cohort analysis are much easier to handle.


  • Depth of analysis and comprehensiveness of reporting is not as good as other tools.
  • It’s only free for less than 5,000 sessions a month (you get another 50,000 sessions if you display their badge in your website footer). If you need more, you need to contact them for a custom plan.
  • Because of the way Heap works, if your developers make changes to your DOM to support new website features, this might break your event mapping. You then have to do re-do it every time and there can be problems connecting the old mapping to the new mapping. This isn’t useful on a website that’s likely to have frequent DOM changes.


6) Kissmetrics:

Kissmetrics is a tool with people at its core. It focuses on the individual and how their behaviour changes over time. While Google Analytics is known for its use of page view tracking, Kissmetrics is more centred on people tracking.


  • It gives you the ability to connect all data of users before and after logging in cross-platforms into a cohesive user identity (Google Analytics fails at this).
  • It has a clean and user-friendly interface.
  • Kissmetrics offers a much easier way of analysing funnels than Google Analytics.
  • It offers automated email campaigns.


  • Data reporting features are not comprehensive and there are more limitations than other tools (e.g. limited custom filtering).
  • Funnel reports only allow user counts, not sums (e.g. sums of revenue).

Ultimately, you won’t know the best web analytics tool for you until you try them for yourself. We recommend signing up for some free trials or demos to see how they meet your individual needs. Depending on your requirements, some of the factors we’ve classed as ‘cons’ may not be cons for you at all.

As you probably know, gathering the data itself isn’t enough. It’s what you do with this data that’s important. The insights you gain from your analytics tool should inform your ongoing user research.

You can then use the research to form data-driven A/B tests to improve your user experience and conversion rates. The tool you choose should play a key role in your optimisation plan so you can continue to delight your users and grow your business.

If you’d like help choosing a web analytics tool, please call us on 0161 713 2434 or email [email protected].

Nina Mack

8th January 2018

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