REVIEWERS: Daniel Gudema, eCommerce analyst and David Green, Webmaster for abc distributing, inc.

BACKGROUND: abc distributing, inc. is a value promotional gift catalog company in business since 1955 with a significant Internet presence.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our online business was extremely successful from the beginning, but we realized online customer support was not keeping up with the demand. Web analysis tools were necessary so that we could handle problems online rather than having support calls increase. The volume of traffic we were getting on our Web site, however, made it impossible for us to accurately track what was happening with traditional software solutions. Originally, we used a log file software solution to monitor our online business, but it became apparent that analyzing three gigabytes of information each day from multiple Web servers was an enormous task. We were allocating six hours per day just to run traffic reports not including the time required to assess why customers couldn't find the help they needed online. Using WebSideStory's HitBox Enterprise, we discovered that within our online customer service center, 66 percent of our online customers were not getting the information they needed online. By tagging and monitoring the error pages and examining their clickstream paths, we were able to pinpoint and correct the problems. One result of this effort was a 95 percent online support success rate. Another result was the discovery that HitBox could be used for analyzing technical problems with our Web server, middleware and mainframe connectivity. Previously, we had only used HitBox for analyzing traffic and marketing statistics.

APPLICATION FUNCTIONALITY: HitBox Enterprise provides us with a scalable, easy-to-use analysis solution so that our IT department can concentrate on business-building projects instead of crunching log file reports. The installation was simple. WebSideStory provided us with a piece of code to place in the content of each Web page we wanted to monitor. When visitors enter and navigate through our site, WebSideStory collects and reports that information to us instantly via an Internet connection. This method allows the entire process ­ collection, analysis and reporting ­ to be outsourced. All information is reported in aggregated trends, so there is no personally identifying information collected about our customers, which was an important factor in our decision to use this technology. HitBox Enterprise collects a tremendous amount of information and provides detailed, concise reports so that we can improve marketing campaigns, customer conversion rates and online customer service as well as make effective business decisions to increase online revenue.

STRENGTHS: The biggest strength is that HitBox keeps our staff trim. We would require three or four people to develop and maintain this type of system in house. Another strength is that HitBox has given our Web site an audit trail that management trusts. The service has assisted us in decreasing our customer service costs while improving our online support. HitBox is scalable enough to handle all of our traffic and report valuable information in real time that we can use to make effective changes to our online strategies.

WEAKNESSES: Because HitBox introduces a revision with improvements approximately every four months, we must recode our Web site each time there is a change. They are introducing features and versions so quickly that we are not capable of handling the changes. We plan to solve this through sourcing our HitBox code and making one single change for the next version introduced.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We had been using log file software solutions, but management needed reports at least on a daily basis, which proved to be difficult ­ it often took a day or two to get information. With HitBox, management has direct access to the reports at any time, and they can drill down to examine the exact information they require. One of the biggest reasons we chose HitBox is the flexibility in naming the Web pages for analysis purposes.

DELIVERABLES: HitBox Enterprise provides online, real-time reports detailing site visitor behavior such as top navigational paths through a site, referring URLs, referring search engines, most requested pages, most requested content groups, time spent on site, depth of visits, browser configurations, exit links and connection types.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Everybody in IT knows that systems have downtime; yet, we rarely have problems with HitBox. Support for HitBox is excellent and no different than local IT support when we need it.

DOCUMENTATION: HitBox is fairly extensive and has many features and terms. Downloadable documentation is available on the Web site if you have the time to read it. We have found the documentation to be acceptable and updated with each new version.

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