Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Daniel Gordon, John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund

Related Topics: @DXWorldExpo, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Wearables, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@DXWorldExpo: Article

Case Study: Skinit Transforms Big Data into Actionable Information

Gains unprecedented visibility into customer behavior

Skinit Inc. is an eCommerce provider of personalized skins and cases for a wide range of consumer products. With over 180 licensed brands, in-house artwork and the ability to completely customize designs, the company reaches a diverse market. Skinit knew it faced an increasingly competitive market where customers were expecting a more personalized experience. Like many eCommerce companies, we had a large amount of data on what was purchased, what pages were visited, where visitors were coming from and so on. However, while we had more and more data every day, we still lacked the ability to connect all these data points and turn them in to knowledge.

The eCommerce Challenge:
Like any eCommerce site, Skinit relied heavily on web analytics data, using both free and high-priced platforms. Unfortunately both provided some challenges, and the marketing team created a "wish list" of capabilities for a new system.

The "wish list" consisted of the following:

1. We needed an analytics system that was light on implementation and high on integrity. The unique capabilities of Skinit's site made implementation management difficult and threatened data integrity. Like many companies, our development team was swamped with other projects so getting implementation on site in a timely manner was a big challenge.

We were looking at various tag managers to solve this issue. While tag managers would have surely relieved some of the implementation burden, we still had concerns about data integrity as we had experienced problems with tagging in the past, particularly with getting the data comparable for year-over-year benchmarking.

2. The data needed to be person-based rather than page-based. All our efforts were spent optimizing and improving the customer journey, and we needed data that supported this. Connecting web-behavior data to sales, CRM and other supplemental data sets was the next logical step.

While data analytics platforms allowed us to get some data in this format, it was limited and difficult to connect when visits did not lead to purchase - and non-purchasers were the target audience for optimization.

3. Data needed to be collected to enhance merchandising and personalization. With such a large catalog, understanding relationships between products was key to helping the customer personalize their device quickly. We wanted to be able to make recommendations to help the customer along. Since the product can have a wide array of attributes such as color, brand, gender affinity, sports market affinity, geography, etc. that aren't necessarily present in page-level meta-data, we needed to be able to pull data from multiple sources to better understand just what made different products appealing to different users.

We looked at third-party recommendation engines, but felt there were some limitations in the models as they were either built to analyze frequency of purchase combinations or frequencies of products viewed. This presented a challenge for us since most customers bought one product at a time, and products viewed together were proven to be self-fulfilling because customers either viewed what we merchandised to them or they left. The challenge was that we didn't feel we knew how to merchandise the right thing to them.

For example, what recommendation should we make to a customer accessing the site from the San Francisco Bay area but viewing Pittsburgh Steeler products? If we based the recommendation on category, the customer would be shown other NFL products for other teams - unlikely to be appealing since it is rare for a fan to have a strong affinity to two teams in a single sport. Do we market another sport such as baseball? And if so, do we assume they are a San Francisco Giants fan or a Pittsburgh Pirates fan? To really elevate the business, we needed a system that could effectively make decisions like these.

4. We needed to be able to quickly identify, track and examine each micro-conversion path for optimization. Ideally, we wanted to be able to quickly identify the most frequent paths to success and the most frequent paths resulting in drop off. For example, if we had a five-step cart process, we wanted to see how many users went from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3 to Step 4 to Step 5, and how many deviated from that path and how. Traditional cart funnels clued us in to deviations from this path, but not where or why.

We could conduct this analysis using our paid analytics platform, but we could not integrate it into our business intelligence system, which made the analysis time consuming and limited in scope.

5. Finally, we needed a better way to visualize problems or optimization opportunities throughout the company in order to get teams to act on findings. We looked at session replay technologies, but were concerned about the limitations in filtering or searching these sessions for specific characteristics important to us. This meant we would have to sample records, which was not the time saver we had hoped for.

We added up the cost of all the various services, partners and platforms we could use to meet most of these challenges. Ultimately, Cloudmeter, a leading software solution provider for transforming real-time network Big Data into actionable information for IT and business users, satisfied all of these requirements and cost 30 percent less than the alternate solutions.

The Cloudmeter Results
The no-code implementation meant that the new platform could be up and running quickly without interfering with site performance. Cloudmeter's reactor system also made it easy to add new variables and to push data to different sources. This was extremely important, as we wanted a system that would grow with us as our questions became more sophisticated. The data feeds were easily integrated into our existing business intelligence system, allowing us to tie onsite behavior to other known data points.

We created a data feed where the primary unit was the customer. Whether they converted or not, we were able to capture each navigation path using custom logic, from how they came to the site, found the product and what cart actions they took. Each of these paths could be aggregated and searched. For example, we could quickly identify the common navigation paths for a customer who clicked on a recommended product and added it to cart, or users that added an invalid coupon code. Since this data was layered into our BI system, we would examine onsite behavior differences by things like gender or market segment.

We were able to capture product metadata from the page and combine that with things like searched keywords to understand relationships between products for merchandising. We found common behavior paths in different customer segments and information, and how to quickly identify those segments - from geographic region, search interest or loyalty.

Finally, the combination of Cloudmeter Stream with web session replay added a layer of efficiency to our analysis. Not only could we email sessions throughout the team - allowing customer service, technology or marketing to see issues first hand, but we could also gain a level of insight into a problem in a much shorter time period. In the past, when an anomaly in the data was observed, it would trigger a time consuming deep dive. Through "data forensics," we tried to piece together theories for the change. Now, when we observe something unusual in the data, we immediately search sessions in Cloudmeter Stream containing the behavior anomaly and usually gain immediate insight into the cause. This simple yet powerful step frees up our analytics team to spend more time on strategy and optimization rather than on constant investigation.

As a result, Skinit is in the process of re-designing the eCommerce platform based on the insights we have learned from Cloudmeter. We expect to see some big gains from the new site, but more importantly, I think we are all excited to find the next place to continue optimization.

More Stories By Kate Bartkiewicz

Kate Bartkiewicz is Web Analytics and Manager of Business Intelligence at Skinit, Inc., a provider of consumer personalization products for electronic devices.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...