CustomInk Gets to the Core

By Laura Rush | Posted January 12, 2004

CustomInk began a few years ago as a small virtual store that enabled customers to design and order custom-made merchandise including t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and mugs. As a small startup business, founded in March 2000 by Harvard University graduates Marc Katz and Dave Christensen, CustomInk initially focused on serving college student groups such as sports teams, fraternities and sororities. Schools provide their trademarked logos, which are then made available on CustomInk's Web interface for use in custom designs by school groups, alumni associations, and team fans. The business currently is also rapidly expanding into the small business, corporate and recreational sports markets.

CustomInk's patent-pending design interface, as well as an online library of more than 15,000 pieces of artwork, hundreds of fonts, text tools, the capability to accept uploaded images, allows customers to design and order online customized apparel, drink ware and novelties for their businesses, teams, groups and events.

CustomInk is privately funded and headquartered in the northern Virginia high-tech corridor.

We spoke with Marc Katz, president and CEO of CustomInk, to find out why CustomInk decided to use Coremetrics as its Web analytics tool.

L.R.: When you decided to choose Coremetrics, what were CustomInk's goals? That is, what did the business need to achieve?
M. K. : We were primarily interested in gaining visibility in to how visitors were using the site so that we could make usability improvements. Also, we wanted to improve our visitors-to-buyers conversion rate (as well as the conversation rates of key steps along the way).

L.R.: Were you noticing poor results, more abandoned carts, not enough information about visitors, etc.?
M. K. We did not identify a specific problem. We just felt that we lacked visibility into this critical data.

L.R.: Tell us why you chose Coremetrics, and what selection criteria were you using while searching for a Web analytics tool.
M. K. We had used some simple, free Web log-based programs, but we switched to Coremetrics because we felt their real-time data collection would provide us with more detailed, accurate, and flexible reporting.

L.R.: What analytics solutions did you use prior to Coremetrics?
M. K. Only freeware programs.

L.R.: What was it about Coremetrics that got your attention? What clinched the deal? And would you consider evaluating competitive products?
M. K. [Coremetric's] combination of strong technology and an intelligent team that could make it all make sense impressed us. Setup is extensive, so unless we felt that (a) Coremetrics was lacking major capabilities, (b) that the rate of progress of the product was falling behind competitive products, or (c) that there was an equivalent solution that was substantially more cost effective, we wouldn't switch.

L.R.: How long did Coremetrics take to deploy and what glitches were encountered?
M. K. We tried to self-implement, but I wouldn't recommend it because it led to bugs. Within about six weeks, things were working smoothly.

L.R.: What departments/staff are using the product? How were these employees impacted by the changes?
M. K. We're using Coremetrics in the areas of Customer Experience, Marketing, and Technology. These areas were and still are at early formative stages, so we weren't trying to introduce a new system in to a department that was set in its ways.

L.R.: Can you tell us about how you are using Coremetrics regularly -- for example, weekly/monthly reports on marketing initiatives, site improvements and changes, etc.
M. K. We pull up Coremetrics stats at monthly meetings on an as-needed basis. For example, if we're having a technology meeting and are discussing browser compatibility, we'll pull up a current "Technical Properties" report to see what our visitors are using and how it has changed over time.

L.R.: What benefits were immediately apparent? For example, were you able to use the data generated from Coremetrics reports to increase sales, increase consumer satisfaction, or provide more detailed information about visitors?
M. K. We were immediately able to find out primary use paths through the site and direct our site-improvement efforts towards these areas.

L.R.: Is this part of an overall initiative - and if so, what comes next?
M. K. Ongoing honing and improvement of existing systems and programs as well as testing of new initiatives.

L.R.: What would you change if you were to do it again?
M. K. We wouldn't self implement [Coremetrics], and we would dedicate at least one person to become a power user.

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com.

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