March 15, 2007, 12:00 AM

Driving the web site with a dashboard

E-commerce dashboards are growing in importance. Until now, online retailers have used dashboards in specific areas, for instance to monitor web analytics or to watch over marketing campaigns, but now more general use dashboards are entering the market.

E-commerce dashboards-technology that pulls together reports from disparate operations to give managers and executives a graphical view of what’s happening in key parts of their business-are growing in importance. Until now, online retailers have used dashboards in specific areas, for instance to monitor web analytics or to watch over marketing campaigns.

But now, executives are beginning to understand the value that dashboards bring to the running of their businesses, and so dashboards are becoming one of today’s hot technology projects, Bill Gassman, industry analyst and research director at research and consulting company Gartner Inc., tells Internet Retailer. “I see a lot of dashboards being used, plus they rank in the top three or four projects in business intelligence surveys in terms of projects that people are doing,” Gassman says.

One company that is using a dashboard to run the entire business is Putters.com, where co-owner Bob Frauenheim reports that five people run the online golf equipment retailer where sales are expected to grow to $1.5 million this year. The dashboard came as part of the NetSuite Inc. technology that runs the entire business.

Putters.com uses the dashboard to keep tabs on such standard metrics as orders, sales, new customers, orders in the pipeline, customer inquiries pending. It can also add customized metrics. By using the simple graphical display that the dashboard provides, managers can easily spot problem areas without having to dig through and analyze a lot of data themselves. “A dashboard is a really nice thing to have,” Frauenheim says. “It’s simple to use and everything is integrated.”

Technology developers have spotted the opportunity that a single view of operations provides, and are responding with dashboard products-sometimes referred to as “consoles.”

Web analytics provider Omniture Inc., for instance, now offers a dashboard that manages not only analytics applications, but also marketing and customer management. “We’re no longer a player just in the web analytics space,” says Mikel Chertudi, senior director of online marketing. “We have become a full customer analytics provider.”

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