June 9, 2003, 12:00 AM

A wealth of analytic data sets up online retail’s next challenge

Analytics are capturing volumes of data. Vendors will expand into professional services to help retailers use it, says Jupiter.


Online conversion rates in the single digits may look small in comparison to what happens in-store, but that may not be a fair comparison or the sole long-term goal on which multi-channel retailers should set their sites, says Jupiter Research Inc. analyst Matthew Berk. Where retail operators of web sites should best focus efforts and expectation is on shorter-term, incremental improvements that can be tested and quantified through analytics, he tells Internet Retailer.

“If you are selling multi-channel, there may be something built into the experience of being on the web that means you are never going to get conversions comparable to what you get offline. That said, you have to maximize your site by getting all the slack out of the existing system,” he says.

Retailers can look at three areas of site operations for such improvements, ranging from cutting shopping cart abandonment rates to better cross-selling and upselling, he adds. One area is how retailers bring visitors to their site, the second concerns what happens as visitors move about the site and the last is what happens after purchase to get visitors to return.

Retail sites that have expanded their ability to collect traffic and transactional data through analytic applications now face the challenge of what to do with the data as they seek to translate the information into programs and improvements, Berk says. For that reason, he expects analytics vendors increasingly to expand into professional services as they help retail clients determine how to use the data analytics tools can generate.

“It used to be that vendors would pitch professional services so you could customize the analytics application. But this is different,” he says. “This is about professional services that help retailers understand how to use analytic data and how to install best practices at the company so they are getting the most out of these tools.”


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