e-commerce

Log Analysis in E-commerce

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E-commerce has moved beyond its unique conception of a cost-saving tool, and is currently a standard for creating business opportunities. For organizations with e-commerce sites, it is not only important to realize that businesses are making a profit, but it’s also important to see how they are doing it—and look for ways to step up to the competition.

What essentially guarantees the success of a web-based business? The answer is obvious: quick-loading and fully functional web applications that can be accessed anytime from anywhere, ensuring a smooth transaction—whether e-cart check-in and checkout, online gaming, or a banking transaction. Slow-loading web pages not only affect sales, but also perception in the long run.

E-Commerce business decision-makers are under constant pressure to seek and make the best use of opportunities, which are identified by statistical analysis of purchase information data. There is plenty of additional information hidden behind an application’s backend. This data is located mainly in log files.

Unfortunately, the web logs or log data recorded by most web servers that provide necessary information
are often ignored. Your web log can tell you how visitors find your site, the days and times your site is most popular, the search terms people use, and other information. This information can be used to measure the performance of changes you make to your site.

What is a web log?

A web log records data viewed by each visitor to your website. One line of information for each piece of data viewed (an image, a URL or HTML page) from your site is recorded in a web log. A log analyzer tool can effectively analyze the recorded data generated from a busy site in a timely manner.

Why log analysis is important in e-commerce

The analysis of data recorded in web server log files is a basic way of capturing knowledge of web server workload and the behavior of Web users. From the online retailer’s point of view, it is imperative to understand the way customers use a site, navigate through an online store and make successful purchases, which may lead to better organisational service and efficient business decisions.

Three types of log files that can be analyzed are –

  • Server logs – Logs are stored in the Common or Extended Logfile Format.
  • Error logs – Stores data of failed requests (missing links), authentication failures, or timeout problems.
  • Cookie logs – The information stored in a cookie log helps to boost the transactionless state of web server interactions, enabling servers to trace client access across hosted web content.

 

Measure your e-commerce site’s performance by analyzing log files

Whatever log analysis tool you use, you’re going to be presented with a wide array of information. From visitors to page views and referrers and average time on-site, there are endless amounts of data that need to be analyzed. Focusing and analyzing key information will tell you almost everything you need to know.

  • Visitors

The number of visitors to your site will give you a general idea of how well you’re getting the word out about your business. A website traffic report provides a visitor summary showing the number of visitors, their visits and hits, and their date and time of visit, allowing you to spot trends.

  • Page views

The number of page views can tell you what content on your site is the most popular. If a page is especially popular with visitors, then you can use the same strategy for pages that lag behind in drawing as many views.

  • Download timing

It helps to understand how long it takes a server to take a request and download a page for the user—in other words, how long your application makes your customer wait before he completes a transaction.

  • Referring sites and referrers

Referring sites will give you an excellent snapshot of the type of people who are visiting your site. Using a log analyzer tool, you can see which partnerships are bringing in the most visitors and invest more in those that provide better results. Analyzing the referrer can help you find the country of origin through the IP address.

  • Bounce rate

A “bounce” is recorded when a person visits and leaves a page within a second or two before the page is done loading. You can then analyze the reason for the disinterest.

  • Exit pages

Top exit pages will tell you which pages people visit immediately before they leave. Unclear descriptions or high prices can turn your product pages into exit pages.

  • Keywords and phrases

Keywords and phrases can reveal the terms people are frequently using to find your site in search engines like Google. This can give you more ideas for content that appeals to more customers.

Information from all areas of your online marketing and sales activities gives you an advantage over competitors that do not have this information. Analyzing a web server log provides deep insight on website traffic, consumer behaviour, and market demand. Knowing all this helps you add or remove certain products, and make strategic changes in your pricing that will result in big gains (or limit damage to your profits).
Ultimately, your main objective is to create an e-commerce site to boost your e-commerce sales, generate more leads, enhance brand awareness and increase end user satisfaction. Taking a close look at your web logs can help you attract more visitors to your website.

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Chris Riley is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling.


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