September 16, 2004, 12:00 AM

How web analytics extract online performance from what’s moving at stores

Safeway.com fulfills orders out of Safeway stores, with one store per region serving as the fulfillment store for local online customers. Fireclick web analytics show what’s moving in those stores to let Safeway gauge how well it’s doing online.

Safeway.com doesn’t have one online store-it’s more like 100 of them. That’s because customers logging on to shop from different areas of the western states where the grocery store chain distributes see different offers, products and pricing depending on where they’re located. Until earlier this year, that was creating a challenge in terms of segregating analytic data into the precise categories the company wanted, Joe Devine, CTO of Safeway.com, tells Internet Retailer.

Safeway.com fulfills orders out of selected Safeway stores, with one store per region designated as the fulfillment store within a region that might include 10 or more Safeway stores. With a few product category exceptions, what online customers see when logging onto Safeway.com matches the offers and inventory available at their region’s designated fulfillment store. That means Safeway.com looks to the data on what’s moving in those stores to see how well it’s doing online.

“A traditional web metrics vendor would say, We are going to give you 100 accounts if you have 100 stores,” says Devine. “If we wanted to roll it up by brand, for example, they couldn’t do it.” Devine wanted to be able to segregate metric data by brand and other parameters on a geographic basis, and also wanted the flexibility to be able to change those defined segments and pull data from them retrospectively.

No analytics vendors Devine investigated had exactly what he was looking for available in an off-the-shelf system, but he found one–Digital River’s Fireclick–that was willing to work with his team extensively to develop it. What ensued was six months of almost daily collaboration between Safeway.com and Fireclick to build the analytics reporting system Safeway.com has now been using for about three months. Other online marketers use it too, because while Safeway.com got exactly the flexible analytics capacity it was looking for, Fireclick got the basis of its Version 3.0, rolled out earlier this year; essentially, its collaboration with Safeway.com had provided the production phase.

“We didn’t write the code, but Fireclick designed it based on our unique situation,” says Devine, who measures the success of the analytics product that came out of the collaboration in several ways. “We are able much more quickly and with much finer granularity to assess and modify our marketing programs,” he says. Safeway.com can also see by store the performance of campaigns it’s run across the enterprise, and even uses its analytics reporting to troubleshoot issues with the web site. “It’s definitely helped us to drive down our marketing costs and drive up sales, because of what our marketing people can do,” says Devine.

 

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