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The Pros and Cons of using Google Sheets for eCommerce

Google Sheets for eCommerce

Data keeps operations running for eCommerce businesses. Whether it's tracking sales or analyzing customer behavior, having a solid grip on your data is crucial. 

And when it comes to managing and analyzing data, individuals and companies often turn to trusty old Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel as their go-to tools. 

But is a spreadsheet really the best option for running analysis on your eCommerce data? 

Sure, it's familiar, easily accessible, and comes with a decent set of features. However, as your business grows and your data becomes more complex, you might find yourself butting heads with the limitations of these traditional spreadsheet tools. 

In this post, we'll look at the pros and cons of using Google Sheets for your eCommerce business. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of whether a spreadsheet is the right eCommerce analytics tool for your needs or whether you should explore more specialized solutions. 

Go with dedicated eCommerce analytics tools over Google Sheets 

Keep reading to find out! 

Pros of using Google Sheets for your eCommerce business 

When it comes to managing data for your eCommerce business, spreadsheets can seem like an attractive option. 

After all, it's a tool that most people are already familiar with, and it's readily available at no additional cost. 

Let's take a look at some of the advantages that Google Sheets brings to the table: 

1. Google Sheets are easy to start with 

One of the biggest draws of using Google Sheets is how accessible it is. Most businesses already have free access to spreadsheet software, whether it's Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets through Google Workspace. As long as you have an internet connection, you're good to go. 

Getting started with spreadsheets is also relatively simple. Apart from building complicated formulas, recording and organizing information in spreadsheets is fairly intuitive. You’re only a short YouTube tutorial away from understanding how to use its basic features. 

And because the learning curve is short, spreadsheets are an accessible option for teams that are scaling fast and don't have the time to train new employees on complicated software. 

2. Collaboration is easy on Google Sheets 

Take any business tool, and you’ll get some collaboration features. For example, project management tools like Trello allow teams to work together on tasks within a shared interface. 

However, no tool provides the same level of visibility and real-time collaboration as a spreadsheet. 

With Google Sheets, you and your team can freely edit and update your eCommerce data simultaneously. 

This increased collaboration means everyone in the team constantly works with the updated and edited data. You don’t need to reshare a file every time you make an edit. 

3. Data visualization features 

Visualizing data is an essential part of running an eCommerce business—it's how you can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. 

Google Sheets offers some data visualization capabilities, allowing you to create charts and graphs directly from your data. 

However, it's important to note that effectively visualizing data in any spreadsheet requires a certain level of expertise. 

If you only know basic formulas and functions, creating insightful visualizations can be challenging. You'll need to either invest time in learning more advanced techniques or rely on team members with the necessary skills. 

Cons of using Google Sheets for your eCommerce business 

While spreadsheets may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution for managing your eCommerce data, several significant drawbacks make it less than ideal for eCommerce decision-making. 

As your business continues to grow and your data becomes more complex, the limitations of spreadsheets become increasingly apparent. 

Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of using Google Sheets for eCommerce data analysis. 

1. Google Sheets comes with data security vulnerabilities 

One of the most significant concerns with using Google Sheets for sensitive business data is the inherent security risks involved. 

Unlike dedicated eCommerce data platforms that require secure login access and have built-in safeguards, spreadsheets can be easily shared or disseminated with a simple link or email attachment. 

This means that if sensitive information, such as customer details, sales figures, or proprietary data, ends up in the wrong hands, it could have severe consequences for your business. 

Moreover, in a shared Google Sheets with multiple users, while you can see the version history and who made the last edit, you can’t trace which user made what changes or edits to the data. This lack of accountability can lead to errors, data breaches, or even malicious tampering going undetected, potentially compromising data integrity. 

2. Data integration in Google Sheets is error-prone and complex 

Before you can even begin analyzing your eCommerce data, you need to integrate and consolidate information from various sales channels, marketplaces, and sources into a unified view. 

Attempting to do this manually in a spreadsheet like Google Sheets is a time-consuming and error-prone process. 

With multiple team members making edits, entering formulas, and performing calculations simultaneously, inaccuracies and inconsistencies are bound to creep in. 

Maintaining eCommerce data integrity and consistency in a spreadsheet environment is an uphill battle. It gets even more challenging as the volume and complexity of your data continue to grow, which it does in the eCommerce industry. 

A better approach is to invest in specialized eCommerce analytics software that can automatically pull in, consolidate, and visualize data from all your sales platforms, saving you valuable time and ensuring greater accuracy and reliability. 

3. Google Sheets offer suboptimal data visualization 

While spreadsheets like Google Sheets offer basic chart and graph creation capabilities, attempting to generate insightful visualizations and reports from complex, multi-dimensional eCommerce data is frustrating. 

You'll likely spend more time cleaning data, picking the right metrics, and double-checking for errors than actually analyzing trends and uncovering actionable insights. 

Presenting a massive, cluttered spreadsheet with thousands of rows to your team is far from an engaging or user-friendly experience, making it difficult to effectively communicate key findings and drive data-driven decision-making. 

Dedicated eCommerce analytics tools, on the other hand, provide pre-built reports, dashboards, and visualizations specifically designed to highlight key metrics and tell a clear story with your data.


4. Spreadsheets = multiple sources of truth 

When data resides in silos across different sales channels and marketplaces, maintaining a unified perspective on customer interactions and business performance becomes challenging. 

You might think that consolidating all this data into a single spreadsheet would solve the problem, but in reality, it often creates more issues than it resolves. 

Even if everyone starts working from the same dataset, it's unlikely to remain that way for long. 

In eCommerce, where data is constantly changing and updating, you'll need to make frequent edits and adjustments to your spreadsheet. These changes will then need to be communicated and shared with every team member to ensure they're working with the latest information. 

If someone forgets to update their version of the spreadsheet, or if multiple people are making changes simultaneously, you'll quickly end up with several conflicting versions of what was supposed to be a "single source of truth" – each with different data points and calculations. 

In this scenario, how can you be confident that you're deriving the right insights and making informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information? 

5. Google Sheets lack of automation 

Manually consolidating data from all the sales channels and marketplaces you operate on into a spreadsheet is still possible. However, relying on manual data entry and analysis is not sustainable. 

On the other hand, eCommerce analytics solutions offer automation capabilities that can streamline the entire data integration and analysis process. 

Furthermore, these solutions can automate the process of generating insights and recommendations based on your data, alerting you to critical trends or issues that require immediate attention. 

For example, if there's a sudden spike in sales for a particular product, an eCommerce analytics tool like Graas can automatically notify you about potential inventory shortages, allowing you to restock in time to effectively capture that demand. 

6. Data preparation is a hassle in Google Sheets 

Even if you've taken the time to consolidate data from all your sales platforms into a single Google Sheet, it's important to understand that the data is still not ready for analysis in its raw form. The process of preparing and converting the data for meaningful insights can be a significant hassle in itself. 

Every marketplace and sales channel provides reports and data exports in different formats – some may offer structured, tabular data, while others present information in an unstructured, messy way. 

Before you can begin any kind of analysis, you'll need to convert this unstructured data into a structured, standardized format suitable for processing. 

Additionally, the data you receive from various sources is inherently heterogeneous, with each platform tracking and reporting on different metrics and dimensions. 

To gain a unified, holistic view of your eCommerce performance, you must clean and homogenize this data, ensuring consistent definitions and calculations across all your data sources. 

Only once you've invested the time and effort into structuring, cleaning, and transforming your raw data into a consistent, analysis-ready format can you even begin to run reports and extract insights. 

However, by the time you've completed this burdensome data preparation process, the freshness and relevance of your data may already be compromised—the more recent and up-to-date your data is, the more accurate and actionable your insights will be. 

Dedicated eCommerce analytics platforms take this burden of data preparation off your shoulders by automatically integrating, cleaning, and transforming your data from various sources, ensuring it's constantly updated and ready for analysis at all times. 

7. Google Sheets offer limited to basic analysis 

While spreadsheets like Google Sheets can provide a basic level of analysis and reporting for your eCommerce business, they simply cannot match the depth and sophistication offered by dedicated analytics tools. 

Even if you have all your inventory, sales, and customer data present in a spreadsheet, by the time you manually update and analyze that information, it may already be outdated or irrelevant. 

To truly dive deep and gain control over every aspect of your eCommerce operations, you'll need a purpose-built analytics solution that can provide real-time, actionable insights for your specific needs. These tools are designed to handle the complexities and nuances of eCommerce data, offering advanced analytics capabilities, predictive modeling, and customizable dashboards and reports. 

Spreadsheets, on the other hand, can only take you so far in terms of analysis and decision-making. While they may suffice for basic reporting and surface-level insights, they fall short when it comes to uncovering deeper trends. 

Go with dedicated eCommerce analytics tools over Google Sheets 

As your eCommerce business grows and expands across multiple sales channels, relying solely on spreadsheets like Google Sheets for eCommerce data analysis becomes challenging

You should only consider using spreadsheets if you're just starting out on a single sales channel and don't have a significant amount of data to manage. Alternatively, if there's a specific, one-off analysis or task that doesn't require a dedicated tool, spreadsheets can serve as a temporary solution. 

However, if robust, comprehensive eCommerce analytics is what you're after, a purpose-built platform like Graas is the way to go. 

With Graas, you can eliminate the time-consuming and error-prone process of manually downloading reports and consolidating data from multiple sources. Instead, all your eCommerce data is seamlessly integrated and unified in a single, centralized location, ensuring you're always working with the most up-to-date and accurate information. 

More importantly, Graas goes beyond just presenting raw data by providing you with consolidated insights and actionable recommendations for your business needs. Whether you want to drill down into granular details or gain a high-level overview, Graas allows you to explore and analyze your data in ways that spreadsheets simply cannot match. 


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