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New Tools Assess Web-Site Performance, Customer Behavior

Scalable servers make it possible for businesses to buildsites that support thousands of visitors, but a dearth of sophisticated add-on tools makes it difficult to assess system performance and understand--and react to--customer behavior. New products could make a big difference.

Net.genesis' CartSmarts software, to be introduced today, is designed to help companies understand consumers' online shopping patterns. CartSmarts collects data by searching the log files of Web servers and gleaning information from browser cookies. The software pushes that information through analytical sieves and creates reports that can tell companies how many visitors browsed the site, who shopped, who left, and more. CartSmarts starts at $10,000. Within the next two months, competitor Andromedia will roll out a new version of its own usage-analysis software, Aria, with features that give companies more details about customers' buying behavior.

Site-performance services are also getting better. Keynote Systems Inc., already offering the Keynote Perspective service, which repeatedly hits a company's Web site from 70 locations to gauge performance, will unveil in October new capabilities to measure performance when traffic enters a site over dial-up services.

The market for Web-site-analysis and performance-measurement tools is still embryonic, but analysts say it's growing quickly. Preliminary estimates from Dataquest are that the market for site analysis, performance, and management tools will top $1 billion by 2003. Says Eric Schmitt, an analyst with Forrester Research, "As Internet budgets are starting to go through the roof, executives are going to demand accountability and will need these kinds of tools."

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