Business owners and commercial e-commerce platforms recognize that now, more than ever before, analytics are an integral part of success. That's because there are more than 110,000 e-commerce websites out there generating revenue of a meaningful scale.

That doesn't even include the smaller e-commerce businesses that are new to launch, and growing.

And they're all competing for the attention of your customer, so you'll really need to step up your marketing game to be successful.

Success is driven by data: you can set goals, milestones, and benchmarks all you like, but without that data you'll never know if you're hitting your KPIs, completely bombing, or killing it in sales.

Built-in analytics that come bundled with platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are a good start, but they only provide bare-bones data that tends to provide little more than vanity metrics and merchandising data. A lot of what you get isn't actionable.

If you want to know how your content marketing is doing, track your conversions, and understand your audience better, you need to stack the deck in your favor with more powerful and comprehensive analytics platforms.

Here are the 8 best choices you should be using for your e-commerce analytics.

1. Google Analytics

Even if you purchase another commercial analytics platform, you should still have Google Analytics set up on your website. For starters, it's free - and there's a lot that you can do with the free platform.

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And since it's free, you can use it to compare the data coming from any other platform you use.

2. Piwik

Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics with a nearly identical feature set. It provides a lot of the functionality you need to get insight into site performance as you weight that performance against your goals. It's available in free and paid versions via self-hosting or cloud-hosted service.

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3. Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is a popular and widely used analytics tool, and is well-loved for its funnel-building tools that provide easy interpretation. This includes its unique Path Report that shows the most common steps a visitor takes between their initial visit and final conversion, sometimes revealing a consumer funnel opportunity you hadn't considered (or funnel leaks).

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4. RJMetrics

RJMetrics goes beyond analytics by offering a comprehensive business intelligence platform. This brings marketing and analytics tools under one roof to help marketers make better data-based decisions.

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5. Clicky

Clicky is a popular analytics platform among small and mid-sized organizations. One of the reasons I like Clicky and recommend it is its real-time monitoring capability, which makes it easy to react to changes a lot faster. This can be beneficial if you want quick insights on content promotion or specific conversion goals during testing.

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6. Woopra

Woopra was once a straight analytics tool but has added a lot of additional features that has it positioning itself as a customer analytics system. The goal is to aggregate customer and site visitor data that syncs information from all the consumer touch points, from website to live chat and email.

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7. Adobe Analytics

Adobe is a feature-rich platform targeted more toward the enterprise level, mainly mid- to large-sized e-commerce stores. That means higher cost but also enterprise-level functionality that can scale as you grow your store. I would say it's not ideal for a startup e-commerce store, but it's certainly something you can grow into.

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8. Webtrends

Webtrends is kind of the grandfather of analytics platforms, having launched in the early 90s. Despite its age, it's still a regularly-used tool with a wide array of functionality that can suit smaller e-commerce stores and startups just fine while being capable of handling data for larger operations. The best part is the tiered pricing that lets you pay only for the features you need.

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What platform do you use for tracking your e-commerce analytics? Share your favorite in the comments below:

Published on: Nov 12, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.