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Everything you need to know about Shopify cookies: types, consent required, and how to comply

If you have a Shopify website, you need to know what cookies are essential, how to manage them, and how to communicate your cookie use to your audience with their consent options to achieve and maintain GDPR or CCPA compliance.

May 14, 2024.

You have a Shopify website or e-commerce store, and you’ve at least heard of cookies and data privacy laws. But how does that specifically relate to your business, and what do you need to do? 

If you don’t collect any user data, you don’t need to worry about cookie consent. However, nearly all websites collect user data, especially if they’re used for e-commerce. Names, addresses, browsing activities, IP addresses, account and payment information — these and many more characteristics make up user data. This means you likely need to obtain consent from visitors or customers to collect this data. To do that, you need a consent banner and cookie policy on your Shopify website.

We’ll cover the basics related to data privacy laws and requirements, Shopify cookies and consent requirements, and best practices to create a privacy-compliant cookie banner and cookie policy.

What are Shopify cookies?

A cookie is a small piece of data downloaded to your device when you visit a website. It’s created by the website’s server and tagged with a unique ID for you and your device. Cookies are then exchanged between your device and the website’s server. The server reads the unique ID to provide personalized information.

Cookies are used for a variety of purposes. One is to simplify browsing by remembering user actions and preferences, like region, language preference, or login info. Cookies are also used to provide websites with insights into user interaction, such as first-time versus returning website visitors, and which parts of the site users explore.

Shopify uses these cookies to enhance the functionality and user experience of websites built on the company’s platform. With the exception of strictly necessary cookies, user consent is typically required to activate the other types. Shopify website visitors and customers must also have access to granular information about the cookies, what they’re for, what data they collect, and who may have access to that data.

The different types of Shopify cookies

According to Shopify’s cookie policy, the platform uses the following types of cookies.

Strictly necessary cookies

Strictly necessary cookies support essential website functions, like browsing experience, feature usage, and secure access. Strictly necessary cookies are useful so that website visitors don’t have to fill in the same information again when moving from page to page. Typically, the use of these cookies does not require user consent.

Functional cookies

Functional cookies are used to remember the choices a user makes or information they previously provided, such as language, region, or username. These cookies have various subtypes, including:

  • Security cookies: These detect any unauthorized access or abuses during a limited session. They increase the security of a web page and detect abnormalities, such as multiple failed logins.
  • Authentication cookies: These cookies are active for a session, letting users authenticate themselves for subsequent visits. They can become persistent if the user opts for the “remember me” option in the Shopify cookie consent form. Additionally, they facilitate access to authorized content across pages.
  • Multimedia content player session cookies (flash cookies): Used only for the duration of a session to store essential data to play audio or video content. These cookies improve indicators like buffering parameters, network link speed, and image quality.
  • User interface customization persistent cookies: These are used to store the users’ preferences when it comes to services across different web pages.
  • Load-balancing session cookies: These identify the server in the pool. This needs to be done for the load balancer to redirect the users’ requests to the appropriate destinations. These are used for the duration of a session as well.

Performance cookies

Shopify also uses different types of cookies when it comes to user experience. These are called performance cookies and only gather information for statistical purposes since they can’t identify the individual user. 

  • First-party analytics cookies: They have several purposes, like enhancing Shopify’s and its merchants’ websites, identifying search patterns leading to web pages, and estimating unique visitor numbers. They help to enable understanding of web page usage and improve the browsing experience, but they’re not used for online marketing.
  • Third-party analytics cookies: A type of tracking cookie, like those from Google Analytics and other providers, such as TikTok, Snapchat, and LinkedIn Insight Tag, measure user interactions with website content. They track user activity across pages to understand interactions with the site.

Social media cookies

Shopify’s social media cookies are designed to improve user interactions on your website by integrating social media plugins and content-enhancing tools. For example, to share via social widget. However, it’s worth noting that these third-party plugins may also use these cookies for behavior advertising or analytics purposes.

Advertising cookies

Advertising cookies are used to personalize and target sales and marketing activities. These cookies track people’s activity across the web and a company’s website to deliver personalized ads based on their interests and behavior. They’re essential to optimize ad campaigns, measure ad effectiveness, and deliver relevant content to users.

Shopify customers and visitors can reject the use of these cookies, though Shopify has stated that, without these cookies, users will still see advertisements, but these will be less relevant or interesting.

Curious to know which cookies are present on your website? Try our free scanner to find out.

What is the duration of Shopify cookies?

According to Shopify’s cookie policy, how long a cookie remains on a device depends on whether it’s persistent or session-based.

Persistent cookies last until they expire or are deleted, while session-based cookies expire when a browsing session ends. 

Shopify’s cookies typically last between 30 minutes to two years from the download date. Depending on relevant regulations, you may need to refresh user consent to use certain cookies before they expire.

Do you need cookie consent on your Shopify website?

Cookie consent is required across most Shopify websites. Why? Because it’s a legal requirement for companies that collect any form of user data under many global privacy regulations.

Data privacy laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) state that companies need to obtain explicit consent from their website visitors before they can collect their personal data.

California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) uses a different model, and consent is not required for data collection and processing under many circumstances (the main exceptions being children’s data and sensitive data), but website visitors and customers must be able to opt out of data processing for several purposes. The CCPA, like pretty much all privacy laws, also requires websites to inform people about tracking technologies and CCPA cookies present on their Shopify websites in addition to enabling opt-out.

Beyond legal requirements, by disclosing the cookies and tracking technologies present on a Shopify website, companies can increase trust levels with their target audience by being transparent about data operations and giving them control over their data.

Shopify cookie consent requirements

Shopify website and store owners need to ensure privacy compliance for regulations relevant to where they do business. It’s important to note that many privacy laws are extraterritorial, protecting residents of a region, like the EU or California, regardless of whether a company collecting those residents’ data is located there.

Companies need to follow certain cookie consent requirements. As the GDPR is among the most stringent privacy laws, it provides a good model for consent best practices to achieve and maintain privacy compliance.

  • Offer clear and equally presented cookie consent choices for users to accept or decline.
  • Provide transparent information on why consent is needed, for what purposes, how this data will be used, and by whom.
  • Do not activate cookies until individuals give consent.
  • Block cookies if individuals decline consent.
  • Enable website visitors to consent to individual services or categories. Don’t oblige users to consent to all the cookies present on your website (e.g. via an access blocking and noncompliant cookie wall).
  • Maintain records of consent for legal purposes or provision to users making rights requests, or to authorities.
  • Enable users to change or withdraw consent at any time.

How to manage cookies on Shopify?

How to manage your website’s cookies depends on the privacy regulations applicable to your business. So Cookiebot™ can’t provide you with a definitive guide, but we can give you guidelines and best practices to follow. We strongly recommend consulting with qualified legal counsel about your data privacy and compliance operations.

Identify the cookies used on your Shopify website

Identify all of the cookies and other tracking technologies in use on your website as well as their purposes. Remember that apps and extensions installed on your Shopify website may also place cookies without it being immediately apparent.

Then, organize your website cookies into different categories, like essential, functional, analytical, or marketing. This will help users understand the purpose of each cookie and make an informed decision about which ones to accept, as required by the GDPR. A consent management platform (CMP) can help with automatically categorizing cookies for you.

Implement a clear and visually noticeable cookie banner or popup that appears prominently on your website. It should be placed where users can easily see it upon their first visit. You can use a predesigned template or customize the banner’s colors, text, buttons, and more.

Include relevant cookie text to comply with the GDPR, the CCPA, or any other privacy law. Your cookie banner should explain why you are asking for consent and provide information about the cookies you use on your Shopify website, their purpose, third-party access, and storage duration.

Lastly, ensure that website visitors actively opt-in to cookie usage, e.g. by clicking a button, rather than using pre-checked boxes or implied consent (like assuming consent if the user scrolls past the consent banner. This ensures explicit consent is obtained. Coercive or manipulative designs (dark patterns) are frowned upon and illegal under several data privacy laws.

Create a detailed cookie policy that outlines the types of cookies used on your Shopify store, their purpose, and how users can manage their cookie preferences. This policy should be easily accessible and linked to your cookie consent banner. A cookie policy can be a separate page or document on the website, but often it’s a section within the broader privacy policy.

If your Shopify site uses any third-party cookies, such as those from analytics or marketing tools, make sure to disclose this information in your cookie policy and obtain user consent for their use.

Periodically review your cookie policy to ensure that it accurately reflects the cookies used on your Shopify website, as they may change over time, and any changes in data privacy regulations, or requirements of new laws that may be relevant.

Securely store thorough records of user consent. By maintaining detailed records, companies can meet regulatory requirements, but also showcase their dedication to transparency and protecting users’ data. These records not only serve as evidence of compliance but also help build trust with customers by demonstrating a company’s commitment to responsible data-handling practices. 

Laws like the GDPR or CCPA also require that you be able to provide proof of consent in the event of an audit by data protection authorities, and data privacy laws also typically provide users with rights regarding their data and access to it. So you also need to be able to provide consent records in the event of what’s called a data subject access request, in addition to users being able to make changes to their consent preferences or withdraw consent at any time.

A consent management platform (CMP) can help securely store consent information and manage and update consent records effortlessly.

Cookiebot CMP can help you manage your cookies on Shopify.

Learn more

How to add a cookie banner and policy to a Shopify website?

To add a cookie banner and cookie policy on a Shopify website, you have three options:

  1. Enable the built-in cookie consent banner in Shopify’s settings.
  2. Manually code a branded banner into your website theme.
  3. Install a third-party cookie banner app that enables:
    • scanning your website for cookies in use
    • automatically generating a cookie policy
    • creating a branded banner for your Shopify website

    Cookiebot can help you quickly implement a cookie banner and privacy policy and manage consent.

    Start 30-day free trial now

    Simple steps for Shopify cookie compliance

    Ensuring compliance with data privacy laws on your Shopify website is not just about a legal obligation, it’s about building trust with your audience.

    By implementing clear cookie consent practices, organizing your cookies, and maintaining transparent policies, you demonstrate a commitment to protecting user data and fostering transparency. And with the right tools and understanding, managing cookies on your Shopify site can be straightforward and easy to do. 


    What are Shopify cookies?

    A cookie is a small piece of information that is downloaded to your electronic device whenever you visit or perform activities on a website. There are a number of different cookie types, depending on what they’re for or the type of information they process. Shopify uses a number of these, including user-input cookies, security cookies, authentication cookies, and advertising cookies.

    How do Shopify cookies work?

    The data stored in a cookie is created by the server when you connect to it. The data is then labeled with an ID that is unique to the individual and their computer or other electronic device.

    The cookie is then exchanged between the user’s device and the network’s server. In this process, the server reads the ID and then knows what information it needs to serve you specifically.

    How do I set cookies on Shopify?

    To set cookies on a Shopify website, you need to first add a cookie consent banner to comply with privacy regulations like GDPR if relevant for where your website users reside. You can configure your cookie banner either through Shopify’s built-in settings or by installing a third-party cookie banner app from the Shopify App Store, like the one from Usercentrics.

    Do I need cookie consent on my Shopify website?

    Unless you collect absolutely no user data, which is rare on websites, you are required by law to ask for cookie consent when a visitor lands on your Shopify website if the GDPR is relevant to your business and website visitors. You may have to comply with additional or other laws, too, like the CCPA in California, which requires you to notify users about cookie use and enable them to opt out of data processing.

    How long do Shopify cookies last?

    Anywhere from 30 minutes to two years once downloaded, depending on the type.

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