E-commerce: Web Analytics System Gives a Clear Picture for Figleaves.com
Problem: Figleaves.com sought to understand customer behavior online without having to submit an IT request every time information was needed.
Solution: It implemented a Web analytics platform.
Results: The British onlline marketer garners exact metrics on customer behavior, benchmarked against other merchants in its vertical.
Early last year, London-based Figleaves.com implemented a Web analytics solution to more easily track customer behavior on its Web site. Prior to that time, the online intimate apparel merchant relied on an in-house solution that was incomplete, at best.
Much of the in-house solution was based on the analysis of complex databases that logged customer actions on individual pages on the Figleaves site. “It was a bit like being a forensic detective,” says co-founder Michael Ross. “We had this partial picture of what was going on, and we had to infer things from odd bits of data.”
Specifically, if Ross wanted to know where his customers went after viewing individual pages on the site, he’d have to ask his database manager to drill into a data set and extrapolate an answer based on this information. While Ross admits that he knew the important metrics that affected conversion, he was seeking a more complete picture.
Late in 2004, Figleaves began looking for a full-fledged Web analytics solution that could help the company see the whole customer behavior picture. After spending about four months looking at various analytics packages, Ross and his team chose a Coremetrics Online Analytics tool. Although he notes that the company implemented Coremetrics primarily because of its robust functionality, another selling point was the ability to anonymously benchmark Figleaves’ Web site against other merchants both in and out of its vertical WHAT??. One of his big obsessions, Ross says, is not only knowing his site’s metrics in great detail, but also knowing how those metrics stack up against other e-commerce sites.
Setting up the Coremetrics package took several months. The first step, Ross explains, consisted of strategic thinking about how to categorize products and pages within the site’s structure. And because the analytics package is an active server pages (ASP) service, there’s no software to install. The ASP model required that each page on the Figleaves site be tagged with Coremetrics’ code. Because Figleaves’ site is so complex, the implemention took quite a while, Ross says.
Now, when new customers enter the site, the Coremetrics’ code delivers a persistent cookie to the customers’ computers. This allows Coremetrics to track the customers’ behavior every time they come back to the site.
And because the Coremetrics’ reports are Web-based, Ross can create and download reports whenever he needs new information. Or, he can have specific reports e-mailed daily, weekly or monthly. Many of the metrics in his business are volatile, so an important aspect of Coremetrics service is the ability to trend these metrics over a period of time. “Trending metrics is pretty important,” Ross says, “because that removes some of the volatility.”
Not surprisingly, the conversion rate is one of the more important metrics Ross tracks. “But conversion rate on its own is pretty meaningless,” he points out. “If I tell that a Web site has a 20 percent conversion rate, that doesn’t tell me very much,” he says. So Ross breaks down his conversion rate by such channels as pay-per-click or organic search and such site entry points as the home page or product page. He also brreaks the conversion rate down by the route customers travel through the site, such as by internal site search or the established navigation. Being able to slice conversion rates into these pieces lets you see “what’s working and what’s not working,” Ross notes, “and therefore, you focus your effort.”
While Ross won’t reveal how much the Coremetrics solution costs, a spokesperson for the Web analytics solution supplier says that basic packages start at $15,000 per year, with additional cost based on page views and package options.
As for Ross’ results, he regards a comprehensive Web analytics package as the cost of doing business. An online merchant without a way to analyze customer behavior is “like a physical retailer that doesn’t count its stock or how much money it makes,” he says. “It touches and influences so many aspects of the business now, whether it’s how we prioritize our technology, how we think about merchandising or how we improve the Web site experience.”