July 22, 2002, 12:00 AM

How Finish Line cut cart abandonments with analytics application

In its first foray beyond log files into clickstream analysis, Finish Line uses Buystream to find and fix checkout drop-off. The solution was seemingly simple: Move the location where customers learned that items were out of stock.

When Finish Line Inc., a retailer of athletic shoes and clothing, integrated a new cross-channel inventory database from Found Inc., it got more than a new window on inventory availability. The integration also threw light on how its checkout process was communicating availability to online shoppers. Analytics from Buystream Inc. pinpointed a problem and helped reduce shopping cart abandonment.

The problem was not that incorrect information on availability was being given to shoppers, e-commerce director Kent Zimmerman tells Internet Retailer, but that it was being presented in a way that led some to the wrong conclusions, such as when a single item they’d placed in their cart was out of stock, all items in the cart were out of stock.

“We realized that the wording and the point in time at which we were displaying an inventory availability message to the shopper was creating the wrong impression,” Zimmerman says. By changing the wording and moving it to a more appropriate place in the process, Finish Line reduced its shopping cart abandonment rate “significantly,” he says, though he won’t disclose numbers.

Zimmerman adds that the reduction in the abandonment rate was immediate, and that he sees the real-time feedback as a major benefit of the new generation of analytics tools. “With these analytics packages, you can measure the effect of changes almost as soon as you make them, which doesn’t compare with what you can do with log files,” he says. “If you want to make a change that’s going to impact your conversion rate by 0.2%, you have to see the real time effect. You can’t wait to collect data for a week and then go back and see if it has any effect, because that’s a very subtle change.”

“It is absolutely a reporting necessity today to use clickstream analysis. I don’t know how you get an overall clear picture other than by using this type of tool,” he adds.

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