EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Gomez’s Poepsel: Web Metrics Key for E-Commerce Success

It’s an e-tailer’s nightmare: In the constant struggle to keep up with online shopping trends and technology, a company relaunches its Web site with all the bells and whistles. However, it soon learns that the site’s upload time is at a crawl, or its checkout is too slow. Sure, the firm did its homework in most departments, like design, but it neglected to measure its Web site efficiency from a user’s perspective.

At last week’s eTail Palm Desert, Matt Poepsel, vice president of professional services forGomez, a conference exhibitor, took some time to discuss the benefits of such measurements with the E-Commerce Times.

The Big Picture

Gomez, a 10-year-old company based in Lexington, Mass., provides Web application experience management solutions in a Software-as-a-Service subscription model. Its products offer benchmarking, problem identification and real-time alerts about site performance levels, among other services.

In simpler terms, Gomez mimics a client’s Web site’s customers and tests the site’s speed and efficiency. It will measure, for instance, how long it takes to click through the site’s pages and between product descriptions. Maybe a specific image is slowing down a page; maybe a network in Dallas is slower than one in Seattle — Gomez will test all of this.

Gomez’seTail booth caught the attention of many attendees with its Gomez ExperienceFirst Platform, which features what the company says is the world’s largest performance monitoring and testing network, with more than 12,000 global testing locations.

Helping the Bottom Line

“We proactively test a Web site 24 hours a day, and we can test very deeply into an application, acting like real people,” Poepsel explained. “We’ll go to the home page, search for a product, look at the details, and even engage the shopping cart.”

Gomez’s metrics can be utilized by IT professionals to diagnose and troubleshoot problems — helping IT groups avoid counterproductive problem-solving cycles — as well as by marketing executives who want to understand the customer experience their site provides and see how their company stacks up to the competition.

Retailers that don’t conduct this type of testing are “rolling the dice,” Poepsel noted, because customers who experience online shopping problems — like long wait times as sites upload or checkout issues — often end up shopping elsewhere. At best, they might call the shop’s call center to complete the order, which costs the company more money.

Not Only for the Short Term

Gomez charges a yearly fee for its solutions; therefore, retailers are encouraged to measure their sites’ efficiency constantly, instead of just during crunch times like the holiday season. Gomez helps its customers hone their ability to manage user experiences over time, Poepsel added.

“We want to start them with the basics and then help them gradually become more advanced as they evolve their businesses,” he said.

For example, one of Gomez’s customers, Office Depot, “used the metrics to both improve experience over time and, most recently, in the holiday season,” Poepsel noted. “They tested their new application before it went live. So, they had a lot of confidence going into production saying, ‘Let’s go ahead and flip the switch — we’re ready to go,’ but some retailers out there today just hope for the best.”

At eTail, Poepsel and Office Depot Senior Manager of Global E-commerce John Napper conducted a presentation titled “Ensuring the Online Customer’s Experience: Web Performance Matters,” which highlighted Office Depot’s Web site performance measurement strategy and how the retail giant uses Gomez’s ExperienceFirst solution.

During the session, Napper said that in addition to helping Office Depot’s Web site, Gomez’s platform “really changed the mindset of the way our people do their jobs.”

Growth Ahead

Office Depot is one of about 750 companies that Gomez’s solutions currently reach.

The company is striving to attract even more businesses, Poepsel noted. It’s shaping its future to be full of “more product, more expansion,” he added. “We’re on the move.”

Gomez announced earlier this month that it will acquire Sysformance, an Internet performance monitoring company based in Zurich, Switzerland, with operations in China, England, Germany and Canada.

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