Web Analytics Special Report: Analytics Lets Wine.com Celebrate the Holidays

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Wine.com is one of the country's leading online wine retailers and wine gifting service providers, selling more than 2 million bottles last year while evolving its business into a broader-based lifestyle products merchandiser. The company attributes its growth to customer insights and refined merchandising promotions resulting from a Web analytics solution.

Challenge. Online retailing and viniculture have much in common. Both disciplines blend art, science, persistence and experience gained from previous efforts. As Wine.com's new business strategy took hold, several challenges surfaced:

• The company was committed to growth and wanted to implement the Web analytics solution before the 2003 holiday season, and at the time it had no real insight into what customers did on its site.

• Before implementing an analytics solution, Wine.com couldn't tell from which section on the Web site a customer placed a product into his shopping cart, preventing the company from knowing which sections drove the most business.

• Before implementing Web analytics, Wine.com used log files. It had no easy way to analyze customer behavior and had very limited IT resources to run and analyze reports.

During this time of accelerated change, Wine.com bought a gourmet gift basket company, expanded wine club offerings and partnered with gourmet food vendors. It soon realized that real-time Web analytics would be vital in its rapid evolution, and the company needed to be able to validate its strategy.

Solution. In its initial search for a Web analytics solution, Wine.com looked at Coremetrics, Fireclick and Omniture. Having selected Omniture's SiteCatalyst, Wine.com's deployment strategy was simple: Start with a basic implementation that focused on the revenue-generating aspects of the site. The company concentrated on the new gift center and new shopping cart, deploying the solution in less than a week.

Result. Holidays are major revenue opportunities for Wine.com, and St. Valentine's Day is one of the biggest. Leading up to the holiday, Wine.com sent 200,000 mailers touting flowers, wines, chocolates and other gourmet offerings. However, because Valentine's Day 2005 fell on a Monday and nobody was open to ship on Sunday, Wine.com risked losing last-minute orders by many well-meaning, procrastinating cupids.

The marketing department launched an e-mail campaign with four tagged images to see where people were clicking. Using SiteCatalyst reports, it saw that the majority of conversion traffic purchased "Get Lucky in Love," a provocative board game with chocolate-flavored body paints.

Wine.com changed all of the global merchandising to position the game on the right side of the page and increased exposure by placing the promotion prominently throughout the site. In just five days, Wine.com sold 1,000 units - a $15,000 profit from spending 10 minutes with SiteCatalyst.

What's next. Wine.com continues to expand its use of SiteCatalyst. The company uses the tool to perform campaign management, including analyzing conversion rates, spending and ROI of various traffic channels. It also sends daily dashboards to its executives.

Using Omniture's latest version, SiteCatalyst 12, Wine.com is preparing to overhaul its shopping cart for the holiday season, a project expected to be complete by early fall.

Advice. For online retailers looking to enhance their marketing strategy, Wine.com suggests looking at the following before selecting a Web analytics solution:

• Look at your internal organizational structure and determine who owns Web analytics.

• Know what you want to do with Web analytics, identify the users and determine your goal.

• Take time to discover what needs to be improved and commit resources to implement those changes.

• Find out where your data live and how the data will integrate with other online marketing services. This is critical information, as you will quickly realize that your Web analytics provider will become the foundational platform for future technologies that are used in marketing.

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