12/11/12

A new Webtrends product lets retailers act quickly on web site activity data

Webtrends Streams measures and displays hundreds of data points.

Amy Dusto , Associate Editor

Online retailers usually rely on after-the-fact web site analytics and reports to determine how well their marketing campaigns or site features performed, then they adjust marketing and merchandising campaigns. Digital analytics vendor Webtrends Inc. introduced a new product today, Webtrends Streams, which provides a dashboard that displays what consumers are doing on a retailer’s web site at the moment. That allows retailers to respond immediately as trends emerge, Webtrends says.

One retailer that tested Streams used it to watch a live feed of what products customers around the world were putting in their shopping carts, says Bruce Kenny, executive vice president, technology and hosted operations at Webtrends, declining to name that retailer. Suddenly, a slew of images of women’s red underwear filled the feed, coming from all over the world, he says. The retailer realized some global event was causing an unexpected uptick in popularity for the product, he says, and it could adjust its merchandising or marketing strategies accordingly to capitalize on that—perhaps by featuring the underwear on the home page or posting messages on online social networks telling consumers the item was in stock.

Webtrends has been testing Streams with several clients in Europe and the United States over the last few months, it says, including United Kingdom-based fashion and beauty retailer Asos Plc Holdings, No. 39 in the Internet Retailer Europe 400.

“Webtrends Streams has helped us bring our data to life in a way not previously possible,” says David N. Williams, head of customer intelligence, ASOS. “Through engaging visualizations, our staff is now able to appreciate the global scale of our business in real time and we’re excited about the customer-facing opportunities this unlocks.”

Streams offers a few pre-made visualizations to help retailers get started. In one, a world map displays pins popping up where customers are making online purchases, while off to the right a bar graph shows the most purchased items or categories; retailers can adjust the variables that the map shows. Another, spider web-like visualization is designed to show how customers move around the web both on and off a retailer’s site, such as from which specific campaign links customers reach a product page and where they go from there. That could help retailers identify problems in campaigns right away, such as if customers aren’t following a campaign’s intended path, the company says.

Webtrends Streams also includes a Chrome browser extension that displays spots over a web page to show where customers are clicking. The spots can be color-coded to represent variables such as the customer’s location or device used, Webtrends says.

“With Webtrends Streams we give businesses the power to understand their online business as it happens,” says Alex Yoder, CEO of Webtrends. “We enable marketers to improve their customers’ digital journey, literally as it happens. And we empower e-business teams to take instantaneous actions that drive better business results.” 

Retailers can play with the data to create their own visualizations within the “Streams Lab” page of the dashboard, or pay a fee to Webtrends to design those displays, the company says.  All Streams code is written in the widely used programming languages of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, making the data accessible to many developers, Webtrends says. Non-programmers can also create visualizations by using the tool’s drag-and-drop features.

Retailers can also enrich the data that Webtrends collects with their own data or information they acquire from other sources. For example, a luxury goods retailer may want to identify high-value customers from its database when they are on the site.

Streams also enables retailers to plug the live data into such applications as customer relationship management or inventory management, Webtrends says. For instance, a retailer receiving many complaints about a particular product might create an automated response whenever such complaints appear on social networks, or data showing that purple pants are selling well in California could lead a retailer to show purple items to site visitors coming from that state.

“Ultimately it’s about optimizing the customer experience at that time,” says Steve Earl, director of product marketing at Webtrends.

Webtrends offers Streams on an annual contract basis, starting at roughly $60,000, which can increase based on the volume of data the system processes, Earl says. Businesses needn’t be Webtrends Analytics customers to use Webtrends Streams, the company says.

Topics:

Alex Yoder, Asos Plc Holdings, Bruce Kenny, customer service, data visualizations, David N. Williams, e-commerce technology, live feed, real-time data, Steve Earl, streaming data, Technology Update, web site analytics, Webtrends Inc., Webtrends Streams

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