Shopify Collections Reporting

Shopify Collections Reporting

At Report Toaster, we frequently get asked questions by merchants on how to report by collection.

Whether this is a Sales report looking at Sales by Collection or more of a product report looking at products and their assigned collection(s), our response is usually the same. 

You should avoid this, where possible. 

This might be an interesting response to hear from a support guide, and indeed many of you reading this might be raising a few eyebrows.

But rather than simply writing off collections entirely, this guide will focus on some potential pitfalls with collections and how you can still achieve your goals (grouping products and seeing how the group is performing) via much better methods.

So let's start off by looking at...

What's Wrong with Collections?

Inherently, nothing. But it's more about the way many merchants use collections that can prove a nightmare when creating reports. 

Why is this the case? Well actually, there are a few reasons: 

1.) Overlap. Unlike Product Type, a product can exist in more than one collection, and in turn, these collections can have overlapping products.

For example, a discounted white sports T-shirt could be in the Summer Sale, Apparel, and Sports collections simultaneously.
So when you're looking at a Sales by Collection report, any sales of that item will actually be counted three times - once for the Summer Sale collection, once for the Apparel collections, and once for the Sports Collection.  We have essentially 'triple-dipped'
This makes it really difficult to get an accurate count on sales totals when looking at more than one collection at a time.

2.) Attributing Sales: Because products can exist in multiple collections, then even if there was only one path to any individual sale on your site (meaning a customer found the product after browsing one of the published collections) you still have no way to distinguish which it was. 

For example, if somebody bought my discounted white sports T-shirt, the sale is attributed to all 3 collections (Summer Sale, Apparel, Sports).
But clearly they were only browsing one of them prior to the sale, so which one was it?

3.) Unpublished Collections: This one is odd, but no less true. If you assign a product to a collection, then sales of that product will be attributed to that collection even if the collection isn't published yet on your site. 

Also understood as the classic Shopify case of 'How did my Black Friday collection have sales going back all the way to July?' 
Well, as long as the product was active it can sell, and even if the collection isn't active on the site, it now has sales...

All of these are issues when trying to create accurate reports and trying to get totals to line up with your expectations, especially if you're looking at a specific date range.

So... what can we do instead?

Use Product Type

Unlike Collections, each product can only have one product type. This means that you don't have to worry about overlapping sales (above) because product types are mutually exclusive.

Furthermore, product type IS stored at the product level, meaning you can easily filter a product report down to only those of a certain Product Type. 

But what if you want to have more than one group per product?

Use Product Tags

Unlike Product Type, you can have as many Product Tags as you like assigned to each product. But unlike Collections, the tags assigned to a product are visible at the product level, making it easy to group them for reports. 

E.g. show me all Sales by Product Variant where the product had the tag 'premium' 

This works great because we are breaking down our sales report by an individual product (or variant) and therefore there is no double dipping on the tags. 

Now if we wanted to utilize tags in place of a collection as a column, we could do that too with our Calculated Fields feature.

For example, if the tags assigned to products were one of 
  1. Outdoor
  2. Innerwear
  3. Accessories
  4. Shoes
Then as long as there was no overlap between these categories, we could split the tags into their own columns and get accurate sales numbers accordingly. 

Smart Collections

The other great advantage of these approaches is that they work great with Shopify's Automated Collections (Smart Collections) feature.
As many of you know, Shopify can automatically assign products to a Collection based on certain underlying criteria (e.g. Put the product in my Outdoor collection if it has the Outdoor Product Type/Product Tag). 

E.g. here's a Test smart collection, which puts products in it so long as they have the corresponding Product Tag:

This means that, as long as you know the underlying conditions that assign products to a collection, you can always report on that instead.
This will achieve the exact same results as reporting by collection, but neatly bypasses many of the problems outlined above. 

Have any questions about setting up a report? Contact us at and we'll be glad to help you out. 

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