CATEGORY: Web Analytics & Web Services

REVIEWER: Richie Hannah, Web site strategist for

BACKGROUND: Proflowers is the world's largest "direct from the grower" flower company. Founded in 1998 and profitable, Proflowers leverages the Internet to remove several steps from the traditional supply chain, enabling consumers to send fresher flowers at better prices.

PLATFORMS: The customer-facing interface of WebSideStory's HitBox Commerce is a platform-independent, Web browser-based application.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We have been using WebSideStory's HitBox Enterprise marketing analytics and optimization service since 1999 but needed to complement our existing site traffic and commerce tools with richer and more granular data. We had the transaction data available in our internal reporting system and traffic data for individual products and product categories, but only a fuzzy view of which orders originated from each site placement. HitBox Commerce allows us to fully understand how products perform in different site locations and better optimize our merchandising mix in real time. We also use the powerful combination of HitBox Enterprise and Commerce to understand how visitors originating from different marketing channels behave on our site. Again, our internal reporting capability allowed us to track the origin of every order placed, but we had to trust our marketing partners to provide accurate impression and click data. Our HitBox implementation provides full visibility into what happens between site entry and order – and, more importantly, what happens between site entry and abandonment. Because the consumer flower business is very seasonal (the majority of traffic and transactions take place over a few key weeks each year), having immediate access to real-time data is critical. We make full use of up-to-the-second data available in HitBox Commerce to guide key merchandising and marketing decisions so we can make site changes when they will have the most impact. HitBox Commerce has enabled us to improve our marketing ROI, optimize merchandising and increase browse-to-buy ratios.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: To install HitBox Commerce, a JavaScript tag was placed on the success page of our .NET-based order process, and an application change was made to populate the tag with the required dynamic transaction data. Since this was completed, there have been no additional changes or maintenance required – a real "set it and forget it" implementation. The well laid-out interface provides a seemingly endless range of views into the data, with the ability to cross tabulate and drill down into many levels of detail.

STRENGTHS: The peak-driven nature of our business and our ability to make site changes in real time mean that timely data is essential. HitBox delivers traffic and commerce activity seconds after the event takes place on our site. The real-time delivery of information was a very important consideration during our analysis of competing services. Another key strength area of HitBox is the simple installation and negligible impact on valuable engineering resources. Our Web team can easily manage the tags and make changes without affecting the business or data layers of our applications.

WEAKNESSES: The reports provided by HitBox's browser-based interface are very comprehensive and meet the majority of our needs. Answering very specific questions, though, requires upgrading to the company's custom reporting service. Also, we would like the functionality to log into HitBox Enterprise and HitBox Commerce simultaneously, although tools are available to easily access data from both accounts.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Although we had been very pleased with HitBox Enterprise for several years, when more depth was needed we thought it wise to perform a full competitive analysis of all products in the e-commerce analytics space. The decision to retain Enterprise and add the HitBox Commerce component was only slightly influenced by our existing familiarity with HitBox and WebSideStory. Rather, it was the depth of easily sliceable, real-time data, the ease of implementation and superior interface that decisively tipped the balance.

DELIVERABLES: The intuitive interface provides raw data tables and Flash-based charts; and each report is exportable to Word, Excel or CSV at the click of a button.

VENDOR SUPPORT: WebSideStory has proven to be very responsive. It takes a collaborative approach to product development with its customers. Rather than provide us with an off-the-shelf installation, their professional services division took the time to understand our business model and focus, listen to our dreams and wishes and then worked closely with us to implement the correct solution for our needs.

DOCUMENTATION: The installation and user manuals are complete and well-written, eliminating any ambiguity about how to install and use the product. We highly recommend use of WebSideStory's support to make sure you get the most out of your installation.

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