April 24, 2014, 11:47 AM

Yahoo offers web retailers access to e-commerce data from their iPhones

An online retailer can access Yahoo’s Live Web Insights analytics data from an iPhone. That includes enabling merchants with a tap on the screen to chat with shoppers on their sites.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of Yahoo's Live Web Insights iPhone app

Yahoo Inc. has released a free iPhone app for small e-commerce business owners to keep track of what’s happening on their web sites while they’re out of the office. The app is a souped-up mobile version of Yahoo’s Live Web Insights, a web analytics tool available for free to any e-retailer, regardless of what software it uses for its e-commerce site. In addition to viewing shoppers’ live and recent site activities, a merchant can use the app to chat with a customer currently on the site and discover additional tools and services for growing its business.

Kids’ furniture retailer Rosenberry Rooms LLC has been testing the app prior to its debut. “I travel a lot for fun and business and had become used to fumbling through different analytics tools and web sites on my phone. With the new live app I can check in on all of the key metrics on a regular basis, using one thumb,” says owner Peter Fougerousse. “It saves me a lot of time. We have implemented and profited from several of the marketing suggestions made by the app.”

Releasing the app is the first in a series of moves Yahoo has planned for this year to build out its technology and services for small businesses, says Amit Kumar, head of Yahoo Small Business.

“Our goal at Yahoo Small Business is to help people start, build and grow businesses. We think we’ve done a really good job with the start and build parts over the last few years, but more people aren’t thinking about the next steps—how to get the next sale,” he says. “That’s where a lot of our future will be.”

The app displays the number of shoppers browsing a retailer’s site now and in the last hour, plus statistics on the total traffic, number of page views and most-viewed products in the last week. Tapping the second tab on the app allows a user to dive deeper into his site’s live web traffic. For each customer on the site, it shows how long she’s been browsing, how many pages she’s viewed and what she’s put in her cart. It also specifies which shoppers are most likely to buy, based on a Yahoo algorithm that weighs factors including the length of time a shopper has been on the site, the number of pages she’s viewed and whether she has placed items in the shopping cart.

After looking through that customer data, a business owner may tap to chat with a shopper, perhaps one he identifies as needing help to complete a purchase, Kumar says. The shopper sees a pop-up box on the web page asking if she’d like to live chat with the merchant. Or, if the shopper is also on a smartphone, the pop-up can share the business owner’s phone number, giving her the option to talk rather than type on a tiny screen, Kumar says. That feature, he adds, enables a small business owner who can’t afford to hire customer agents to help shoppers herself. Yahoo also provides unlimited chats via the mobile app for free, whereas with the web version of the tool, merchants must pay after the first five chats.

The final big feature of the app is a gallery of about 25 additional technologies and services from Yahoo and other vendors, such as Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.’s Bing and Facebook. Based on the web data Yahoo gathers, the app recommends tools for the retailer to consider adding next, Kumar says. For example, if most consumers are coming to the site on tablets and smartphones, the app might recommend a merchant look at a tool for making mobile offers. A merchant can tap to learn more about a service or to call the vendor and sign up. The pricing information for each tool appears in the gallery.

For a retailer already using Yahoo’s e-commerce platform, Yahoo Stores, the app connects to its live site data as soon as the merchant downloads the app; other retailers must first add the Yahoo Live Web Insights tracking pixel to their sites. Twelve retailers in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Top 500 Guide and 16 in the 2013 Second 500 Guide (the most recent edition available) report Yahoo is their web analytics provider.

The iPhone app debuted last week. An Android version is on the way, Kumar says, without giving a specific timeframe.

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