December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Buystream hopes knowing how a shopper arrives at a site will mean more e-retail sales

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A game of tag

Merchant attaches data tags to the specific pages a retailer feels are important to track. Ryan says the obvious places to tag are entry pages and order confirmation pages. That identifies all browsers and all buyers. Ryan suggests tagging each page in the checkout process; those pages can provide clues as to why visitors abandon purchases. After tracking activity for a few days, Merchant generates reports that include recommendations to increase sales.

PrimeLight’s Arnold calls Merchant a “dashboard that helps me understand my customers.” Arnold says the conversion rates on the sites that Merchant is monitoring have gone from less than 2% to better than 6% since March. He attributes that to acting on Merchant’s recommendations.

Looking for a better measure

One potential selling point for Buystream, according to Harvey, is the option for leasing its software. That gives retailers a chance to acquire and test the technology without a huge investment. Ryan says Buystream Merchant costs $100,000 to $150,000. Leasing costs are tied to the number of visitors at a site and typically run $3,000 to $10,000 per month.

Ryan and his co-founders launched Buystream with a $500,000 investment raised through their own resources and an Ottawa-based venture capitalist. They raised another $2 million from well-heeled individuals in Ottawa. This past spring, Buystream received $20 million in venture capital from Safeguard Scientifics Inc., a New York-based investor in start up companies that provide Internet infrastructure products.

Safeguard also secured Buystream office space in New York’s TechSpace incubation community operated by a Safeguard Scientifics affiliate. Buy-stream has sales offices in San Francisco, Toronto and London, in addition to its Ottawa headquarters.

Ryan believes the ongoing association with Safeguard is just as important to securing Buystream’s long-term survival as is the infusion of new capital. He expects Safeguard to not only show Buystream how to market its products, but also help it get into markets that Buystream would not have been able to penetrate on its own.

“They will make the proper introductions for us, as well as give us the management expertise we need,” Ryan says. “They have been down this road many times before.”

Sidney Hill Jr. is an Albuquerque-based freelance business writer.

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