April 22, 2010, 12:09 PM

Tealeaf 8 analyzes in real time why online shoppers stop shopping

Announced this week, Tealeaf Technology Inc.’s Tealeaf 8 customer experience management software gives web site operators a real-time look at what’s preventing online visitors from completing a transaction—without having to first go back and look for the source of the problem.

Announced this week, Tealeaf Technology Inc.’s Tealeaf 8 customer experience management software gives web site operators a real-time look at what’s preventing online visitors from completing a transaction—without having to first go back and look for the source of the problem.

“Tealeaf is adding the ability to see in real time where customers are really struggling, plus the ability to quantify at a financial level what we’re losing in sales as a result,” says Matt Raines, vice president of technology at web-only apparel retailer Bluefly Inc., one of the early users of Tealeaf 8 and No. 132 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “We make all of our money online, so knowing what’s happening at all points and times on our web site is critical for us.”

Raines adds that Tealeaf 8 is able to show reports on lost sales by combining data on the number of site visitors currently experiencing a problem with data such as known conversion rates.

Tealeaf 8, which will be made commercially available this spring, uses mathematics and statistical models to instantly analyze and automatically show on an online dashboard the source of problems encountered by site visitors, says Eric Peterson, CEO and principal consultant at web analytics advisory firm Web Analytics Demystified Inc., who has previewed Tealeaf 8.

Not only can e-commerce site operators learn as it happens what’s frustrating a shopper, they can get that information without relying as much on time-consuming reviews by limited staffs of analytics experts, Peterson says. "Tealeaf's algorithmic approach has the potential to surface critical insights quickly and with fewer resources than are traditionally required—a huge advantage to resource-constrained organizations,” he says.

Tealeaf has long been able to show site operators the actual page-to-page steps web site visitors have taken before hitting something that causes them to stop browsing or completing a transaction, such as a down server that results in an error page. But this has required a review of such data by a staff of analysts following a consumer’s visit. Tealeaf 8 changes that, Tealeaf says.

"Giving companies a real-time view of the broad challenges of their online customers, and enabling them to take action immediately, was the driving force behind Tealeaf 8," says John Dawes, Tealeaf's vice president of product management, marketing and strategy. "We are introducing an early warning system of critical experience issues and their frequency.”

Tealeaf 8 is designed to also reveal issues other than technical problems that result in interrupted or abandoned sessions, such as a page sequence that doesn’t provide shoppers with the product information they need and causes them to cease shopping. “The company refers to these unexpected behaviors as ‘struggles’ which I think captures the problem pretty well, and they're building a user interface that automatically reveals those struggles to the web site operator,” Peterson says.

“The traditional analytics model requires knowing where to look for problems on your web and mobile sites,” he adds. “Tealeaf 8 lessens this requirement, perhaps dramatically, and leverages mathematics and statistical models in the place of hard-to-find/hard-to-hire dedicated analytical personnel. It's not to say you don't still need analysts—you absolutely do—but the new Tealeaf appears to have the potential to dramatically focus how your analysts are spending their time.’

Raines adds that Bluefly still drills down into Tealeaf records of visitor sessions to get specific details about difficulties shoppers experienced, but that the real-time dashboard view provides a broad look at the entire site and enables his staff to quickly decide where they need to focus their attention. “We have a hundred thousand sessions a day, and this let’s me pick and choose which ones to look at,” he says.

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