May 11, 2001, 10:57 AM — BUYSTREAM WILL ANNOUNCE Monday the release of Merchant 3.0, an upgrade to its reporting and analytic product for online retailers that adds greater scalability, easier access to information, and easier links to CRM (customer relationship management) systems.
Version 3.0 takes Merchant -- software designed to help retailers keep track of their business and learn how to improve it -- to the next level, providing support for one million skus (stocking units or individual products) and 100,000 marketing campaigns. That is a huge step up from the 10,000 skus supported in the previous version.
"Version 3.0 was designed for larger retailers," said Corien Kershey, vice president of marketing at the Ottawa-based company.
Buystream is looking to snare more multi-channel retailers -- those with online, catalog and store presence -- as customers.
Buystream achieved the new levels of scalability by switching its back-end from flat file storage to a Microsoft SQL database.
The addition of the database also made it possible for Merchant to link to CRM systems, another essential feature for multichannel retailers. Customer information can be passed back and forth between Merchant and CRM systems, enhancing analytic and reporting at multichannel retailers. For example, a retailer can track whether a customer has done research on a product online but waited until the next day to go to a physical store to make the transaction.
In addition, Buystream is talking with CRM vendors about creating APIs to speed implementation at customer sites.
Merchant 3.0 also offers a redesigned user interface, providing retailers with real-time views in addition to reports. Retailers also receive alerts on "opportunities and threats." For example, an alert might provide information on an increase of customers driven to the site by a particular banner ad or a decrease in customers driven by a particular e-mail campaign.
Merchant 3.0 also offers custom path analysis. Because Buystream's system uses datatags instead of system logs, retailers can tag certain pages to determine if customers are following the preferred path through the site. Retailers can also determine the point customers left that path and use the information to make changes to the site.
"You can see what percentage of people follow the path and where you lose them, and then you can use the information to shorten the number of clicks in the path to check out," Kershey said.
Merchant 3.0 also offers in-page analytics, a feature that allows retailers to enter their store Web site the way a customer would, but then view analytic information in a side window. For example, on a product page a retailer could see revenues for that product, the number of purchases, the number of times the item was loaded into a shopping cart, abandonment rates, and other details.