Web analytics boost e-commerce sites

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Zinio uses Webtrends analytics to track purchase patterns
Zinio uses Webtrends analytics to track purchase patterns

Multichannel retailers are measuring Web analytics to improve conversion rates among e-commerce shoppers, in addition to pursuing emerging opportunities in mobile and social commerce.

Retailers are finding they can enhance the online shopping experience based on Web analytics data made available by constantly evolving tools like IBM Coremetrics, Google Analytics and Webtrends.

Larry Wasserman, VP of e-commerce at teacher supplies retailer Really Good Stuff, says his company uses Google Analytics to "see what people click on and how that leads to conversion." Really Good Stuff has been running Google Analytics since 2005, and has continued to use the product throughout its many upgrades. 

For example, in addition to a new interface and social networking features, Really Good Stuff can leverage Google Analytics' segmenting tools to analyze the difference in new visitor behavior versus returning visitor behavior. "It's gotten more advanced in terms of custom reporting and the ability to set goals," says Wasserman.

The retailer also uses Google Analytics' overlay tools to understand product and promotion performance. "If something is not performing well, we'll slot in a new promotion," says Wasserman. "We just rolled out a product customization tool. As part of the development, we created feedback loops to improve the product." 

Forrester Research senior analyst Joe Stanhope argues e-commerce sites are "still where the majority of transactions occur" and that "mobile and social commerce are still fairly 
nascent. Consumers still go to the Web to complete the majority of their transactions." 

"We try to find data that's interesting, but also actionable," says Robert Gilbreath, Calendars.com's director of e-commerce, marketing and analytics. "There's so much data these tools produce that you can get bogged down. You've got to figure out where consumers are having issues or stumbling, where they might not have the best experience and make changes." 

Calendars.com was able to draw consumers from the "golden triangle" (or upper left-hand corner) of the 
e-commerce page to all four corners of its home page by running tests using IBM's Coremetrics solution. Using  Coremetrics' Liveview feature, the retailer determined which links drew consumers away from their main area of focus and which pulled them deeper into the shopping 

"Online is increasingly part of total company revenue for clients," says Eric Peterson, founder of consultancy Web Analytics Demystified. "More companies are dipping into double-digit contributions. Some are past 50%. With so much business flowing through the online channel, it would be financially irresponsible to turn your back on it." 

Chris Lindland, founder of Betabrand, another Google Analytics client, says running analytics tests is something Betabrand does all the time. "It's a daily affair," he says. 

The clothing retailer has tested single-page and multi-page checkout, and it has changed the background color of the checkout page to gray in an eff-ort to simplify the process and make it less distracting. 

"The basic tests we perform have to do with different configurations of our checkout cart and the number of pages consumers need to go through," he explains. "If you can make a person more likely to complete the process, you'll make a lot more money." 

Zinio, a retailer of digital magazines, runs Webtrends analytics to determine "how to effectively merchandise content," says Jeanniey Mullen, global EVP and CMO of Zinio. "We're able to see how people buy specifically from their computers, and how purchase patterns differ according to location and occupation." 

Mullen has noticed that consumers who buy a business magazine are also very likely to subscribe to a tabloid magazine. "We have a whole professional services business here," he says. "Nobody would have ever thought to cross-sell those two items."


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