After examining the data, she says, the marketing and merchandising teams then can perform various types of analyses, such as segment, category and square inch, which, in turn, has helped drive both merchandising and circulation plans, Updike continues.
The data also help drive e-commerce decisions, such as to whom to send e-mail offers and when, and what products to feature on the cataloger’s landing pages. Indeed, the marketing database has helped the company fine tune its overall multichannel marketing initiatives, says Updike.
“Of course, having all of this data can be a bit overwhelming,” Updike concedes. “But we have so much more flexibility than we had before.”
Next Up: Integration Mode
Updike says that someday Miles Kimball will combine the Geac PM system and the marketing database. “We like where the database is today, but we still plan for additional functionality in the future,” Updike notes. “We see the database as an evolving tool with future enhancements such as daily data updates, Web data integration and the automated generation of modeling data sets.”
Updike advises other marketers embarking on a major technology upgrade to first undertake an in-depth needs analysis. “When we did that, we found that some [functions] would be nice to have but not really necessary to the operation or impactful on marketing decisions.”
Next, send a request for proposals to vendors and examine the incoming proposals very carefully and cautiously. “Be sure that thorough training of your team is part of the package,” Updike advises.
Finally, be sure the query and reporting tools are robust and intuitive. “If the tools are too generic, you’ll quickly outgrow them,” she notes.
Earlier this year, Miles Kimball’s parent company, Blyth Inc., bought the Walter Drake and Home Marketplace catalogs and is handing over some of their operations to the Miles Kimball management team. Updike says the integration is going very well. “We should be fulfilling Walter Drake and Home Marketplace orders out of Oshkosh by May 1,” she notes. “So the timing of our technology upgrades is perfect, given the timeline of this acquisition. We’ve learned how to use the tools, and we know how the data can be used to drive sales.”