If you have an e-store but no analytics system, you are like a submarine without sonar: blind, with no destination or direction. Measuring the behavior of your visitors is crucial to understand what does and does not work. Beyond the metrics of traffic, conversion rates, and average order value, you should delve deeper – what products are popular, where your visitors came from, how long they stayed on each page, and the ROI on your marketing campaigns.

Because these answers are not going to appear in plain language, I have listed my favorite analytical tools you will need as an ecommerce site-owner. Below you will find seven popular and trusted analytical solutions tailored for ecommerce purposes in random order:

1. RJMetrics

RJMetrics is a SaaS (software as a service: you license it on a subscription basis, and it is centrally hosted) business intelligence and analytics solution with an emphasis on ecommerce. One benefit is that it brings a number of analytical and marketing tools under one roof, integrating them seamlessly – and making it easier to gather data and make inferences. You can see which channels bring you maximum ROI, better understand your customer’s behavior, and find the most and least profitable segments.

RJMetrics also goes above and beyond by suggesting things you can do to improve and grow your e-retailer. If you are just beginning your ecommerce site, this tool offers a variety of excellent tutorials to get you started on the right path.

2. Clicky

Clicky offers real time analytics, in an easy to use format – easy enough that you can use it even if you have no experience. The main benefit is being able to react and effect changes on your site to real time events. Clicky lets you compare snapshots of time on your site – such as the last 30 days or even last year. It also comes with a Twitter analytics tool which helps you monitor what people are saying about your company online.

The downside to Clicky is that it does not offer data on time spent per page, page views per visitor, etc. It also has poor event tracking capabilities. That said, it is great for a business on a budget.

3. KISSmetrics

For a comprehensive ecommerce analytical solution, KISSmetrics is the tool for you. It centers on increasing customer acquisition and retention rates, known for being particularly good at building funnels that are easy to interpret. One unique feature is path report, which highlights the most common paths taken between first visiting your store to a conversion, helping you find a funnel you did not even know about. It also provides in-depth information and suggestions on layout choices and their effects on conversions, as well as the marketing options for your store.

KISSmetrics is excellent at tracking customer behavior over time, revealing trends and tendencies. However, it does not offer real time tracking except for live view, and is more expensive.

4. RetentionGrid

Similar to KISSmetrics is RetentionGrid. RetentionGrid presents the data information in easy to understand color-coded graphs. They also provide suggestions to access different segments: in other words, what kind of marketing will work best, as well as which campaigns will have the best results depending on the visitors you receive. They integrate with Shopify, Tictail, and Bigcommerce, and also offer an app to connect your store on the go.

5. Piwik

Instead of discussing Google Analytics, I would rather point out Piwik. It is an open source alternative to Google Analytics with practically identical feature sets, providing all the utilities needed to gain an insight into your site performance and measure goals. With a client list including Forbes, T-Mobile, and Sharp, Piwik makes a serious case against its more expensive competitors.

Depending on your budget, you can download free or paid versions. Both offer a variety of benefits, including ecommerce tracking (including products, orders, cart updates, product and category page views), and advanced ecommerce reports, which includes ecommerce activity logs (detailing visits that led to conversions, abandoned shopping carts, etc). This is an excellent choice for users that want a quick, easy to learn, and free analytics tool.

6. Webtrends

Webtrends was a pioneer of this industry, getting its start in 1993. Growing steadily in capabilities, their tool is one of the most widely used analytics systems out there. It is available in a tier model, suitable for all sizes of business – small to enterprise. It has an easy to interpret storyboard mode, and tracks social media.

However, it is still high in price, and has no free version available. If your business is growing quickly, and you want a data analysis tool that will grow along with it, this might be the tool for you.

7. Adobe Analytics

Adobe’s analytics tool rivals Google’s when it comes to a system for a large company. This giant is one of the fullest feature sets for monitoring visitors, with an intuitive interface that is easy to use. It expands as your company grows, and offers benefits such as a mobile app, real time data reports, and advanced segmentation capabilities.

However, this is a pricey system to start out with, and only gets more expensive as your site grows. If you are just starting up, you might want to look into a budget friendly system – but for big businesses, this is an asset you will need.

Is there a data analytics tool you love that I missed?