Indexing Everything a Site

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-02-10 Print this article Print

Visitor Does"> Not only does the app recreate the viewer experiences, it catalogues and stores them inside its database for later retailer analysis. "Were indexing all of the information as it comes through in a Google-like fashion so it all becomes searchable later," Galat said. "So, for example, you could say, Go into the system and search for everybody who had Google Pop-up toolbar installed or for everybody who is using IE (Internet Explorer) 3 or below or search for everybody who had the following cookie installed or everybody from a certain IP address. "
The benefit of such analysis is that it allows an e-commerce administrator to quickly determine whether the situation "is a one-person problem or a lots of people problem."
Some thieves have used the confusing nature of interconnected Web sites—and the resulting technical challenges—to engage in illegal businesses. To read more, click here. Towers Ertell said that he finds the database search capability helpful because customers often are inaccurate when they tell customer service what happened, sometimes focusing on irrelevant details and ignoring technologically significant ones. "A lot of the times the description of the problem is not really the problem, so having a tool that lets us see what really happened helps," Ertell said. "It truly is able to look for certain patterns and pull all the sessions that match those patterns." TeaLeafs package sells for between $75,000 and more than $1 million, with an average package selling for about $170,000, Galat said. The price is based on two measurements: the number of Web servers used and the number of collective CPUs ("a relative way to understand traffic"); and the number of people who will be interacting with the data, including customer service, second-tier support, developers and line-of-business managers, he said. Towers Ertell said that another lesson that Tower has learned is how people react to home-page promotions. The current site will trumpet a major promotion at the top of the page and three minor ones below that. "That may seem obvious now, but in the past we gave every promotion equal treatment on the home page instead of having one obvious one," he said, attributing the change to Web analytics. Many of the changes that e-commerce sites make after reviewing these kinds of Web analytics programs are not radical or even surprising, but merely reflect an improved understanding of how consumers interact with the pages, Galat said. Many brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to take the interactive multimedia Web experience and bring into the physical world. To read more, click here. For example, an insurance site required site visitors to enter a 17-character Vehicle Identication Number (VIN), Galat said, so they offered a straight text field with enough space to enter the letters and numerals. Extensive testing showed that it worked fine. "100 percent of the time, the application went through," he said. But it provided no guidance about upper-case characters and whether dashes were to be used. The result? "Literally hundreds of customers abandoned the process," he said. Once discovered, a new form with lower-case instructions and pre-formatted dashes eliminated the problem, he said. Another example: TeaLeaf had a client that issued credit cards. Three kinds of credit cards were being offered: silver, gold and platinum. The program tried to get certain income groups into different cards, and so when someone was applying for a Silver card and typed in more than $100,000 in income, it would flash a screen suggesting that they apply for Gold with more benefits. When someone was applying for Gold and typed in more than $150,000 in income, it would do the same, this time suggesting platinum. The application kept crashing and customer service was baffled. Later analysis showed that all of the failures were people who had applied for the Silver card but had reported more than $150K in income. "This was something that just snuck through the testing process. No one had ever tested a two-level jump" from silver to platinum, Galat said. "There was this logic error and the application didnt know what to do with it." The application decided to just dump the customer back to the beginning of the application "so the customer kept going through an endless loop." Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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