September 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

Where the mother of all metrics is still sales

Forget web site analytics when it comes to measuring the success of a site, says Neiman Marcus. Instead focus on the one measure that says it all: sales.


The very latest trend in web retailing these days is web site analytics-measuring conversion rates by type of shopper, abandon rates by web page, the effectiveness of searches, the most likely navigation path to a sale and any other form of measurement that may reflect the customer’s satisfaction with the web shopping experience. But at the Summit in New York last week, Michael Crotty, vice president of marketing for Neiman Marcus Online, declared that his company has recently taken a step back from such intense measurement.

Crotty conceded that Neiman lacked sophisticated tracking of activity on its web site until a couple of years ago. “Then we launched into a frenzy of web tracking and analytics work,” he said. “Seven months later, we had collected lots of data. But when we looked at it, we discovered that the mother of all metrics was still sales. The return on all this effort was not really very good. So, we’ve stepped back from it and tried to determine what metrics are meaningful and measurable. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should measure it.”

But Crotty also told conference attendees about one metric the importance of which no one would dispute. “Fifty percent of the people who shop on our web site are not within driving range of one of our 35 stores,” he revealed. “That is very exciting to us because if means were are appealing to new customers who know of us because of the strength of our brand name.” Neiman, said Crotty, is moving to leverage this new shopper appeal of the web. Any new customer who buys something on its web site is immediately sent a catalog, and in choosing sites for new stores, Neiman has lately added a new metric to the measurements it had traditionally followed in locating new stores: Sales generated in an area from customers who can only tap into the Neiman brand through the web.


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