February 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

Where Products Best Fit

(Page 2 of 2)

Like AtomicPark.com, Broadspan Commerce uses analytics to help allocate funds. The company has been using analytics software from Omniture Inc. since last year to analyze customer behavior and better position products for future visits, Beck says. The application also helps the e-retailer determine how best to deploy its site search and merchandising software from Mercado Software Inc. “And we can look at marketing spending based on results,” he adds, “using analytics to measure metrics such as what keywords have the best ROI.”

Staggering proportions

The combination of merchandising and web analytics systems also enables web retailers to manage inventories of staggering proportions. AtomicPark.com, for example, sells about 45,000 products. “Tracking merchandising manually would be impossible,” Van Ert says. “With these tools we can track SKUs, and prices can be changed automatically to ensure profitability.”

AtomicPark.com routinely reviews merchandising tools to ensure they’re effective and up to date. The web site was redesigned in December because, at two years old, it wasn’t current, Van Ert says. “The site was built upon and built upon, and we were spending way too much personnel time updating it,” she says. “We wanted it to be speedier and dynamic.”

Van Ert favors an uncluttered look-a longstanding challenge has been maintaining white space to keep shoppers from being overwhelmed with visuals. Some of the design and merchandising changes made recently include eliminating splash, or introductory, pages. Old pages and new designs are compared to gauge conversion rates and see which are most effective and deduce when shoppers bail.

Sometimes progress overshoots the mark, Van Ert observes. “We wanted the site to be completely dynamic. But customer feedback indicated they liked the old way of finding things.” In the past, customers could find all software from a vendor by section or type. The new design instead featured a pull-down product menu on section pages. That turned out not to be as intuitive. So AtomicPark.com went back to the old format. “The new version was a cleaner design,” Van Ert says, “but it wasn’t easier to use.”

Broadspan Commerce also plans major changes. It soon will deploy product visualization technology, another merchandising tool retailers hope reaps rewards. The technology enables shoppers to literally see how products would look in their homes. “We want to give customers as much information as possible,” Beck says.

billb@verticalwebmedia.com

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