When it comes to ecommerce, Motorcycle Superstore rides alone. The brand originated in the late 90s when the magazine Motorcycle USA realized it needed to raise money—which it did by building an ecommerce site. Since its inception, Motorcycle Superstore has grown quickly—from a $0 business to a $100 million business. A recent merger with the conglomerate Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG) has increased the company’s value to $250 million.
But unlike most online stores, the e-tailer built its own e-commerce platform from within. “If you were going to buy a Web platform and not mess with it, then in-house development won’t make a lot of sense,” says Jason Miller, VP of technology at Motorcycle Superstore. “However if you run it through your contact center, shipping, and everything else, then a completely close-loop app where you control the variables [is advantageous]. It gives you the ability to innovate and extend the platform quickly.”
For instance, if someone needs new functionality on a webpage, Motorcycle Superstore doesn’t have to put out an RFP or get a quote—it can simply contact its internal development team to get the wheels rolling. These changes also don’t come with the likely $250-an-hour price tag that would be the norm if Motorcycle Superstore were to contract a third party developer team.
But in-house development or no, Motorycle Superstore still needs customer data to determine how to offer the best possible experiences. For nearly a decade, it’s been using a vendor called Webtrends to parse and track Web data as it relates to customers. For instance, Motorcycle Superstore looks at heat maps to determine how customers are interacting with a given page. (Areas of the page where the most activity occurs show up as “hot.”) This gives the company a sense of what type of material and layouts engage consumers. “You can see how users are using navigation,” Miller says. “If a stakeholder wants to redesign a page, you can bring up the heat map and see where people are actually jumping.”
Motorcycle Superstore also integrates its Web data with other channels, like email. Its Web analytics solution ties in with its ExactTarget email product. Commonly, a customer who doesn’t complete a transaction might get a shopping cart abandonment notification; by integrating Web data and email, however, Motorcycle Superstore automatically builds unique offers tailored to specific customers based on the items in their shopping cart. Instead of simply reminding a customer that he or she has a jacket waiting in the cart, the system might create an offer around a pair of gloves commonly paired with that particular jacket in hopes of both inducing a sale and cross-selling an additional product.
This is an ability that Motorcycle Superstore wants to continue refining. “We want to do this in real-time,” Miller says. “We want to take that same thought process and apply it to browsing behavior.” If a customer browses items on the site doesn’t place anything in his or her shopping cart, for instance, Miller wants to be able to build an offer right then and there—similar to what he’s currently able to do with Webtrends and ExactTarget. “We’ve done some of the stuff I’ve talked about in the staging environment, but not in the production environment yet,” Miller says.