Tools Used: DataFlux DfPower Studio 6.0; SAS 8.2
Case Study: Network of independent Christian booksellers solves data tangle
Company: The Parable Group
Situation: In April 2000, The Parable Group, the umbrella organization for an association of more than 250 independent Christian book stores in North America, contacted Wheaton Group, a direct marketing and data consultancy in Chapel Hill, N.C., about performing some CRM work. However, the data—culled from Parable’s network of retailers, which had no standard point-of-sale system—was in bad shape. “We were overwhelmed at its poor condition,” says Parable Group CEO Tim Blair. Before any sort of CRM work could be done, The Parable Group needed to perform major reconstructive work on its marketing database.
Problem: “The Parable Group data was perhaps the most problematic that I had ever seen,” says Jim Wheaton, principal, Wheaton Group.
“In April 2000, the marketing database was basically useless,” concurs Melissa Lundie, manager of business intelligence, The Parable Group. “Major problems included, but were not limited to, bad data, bad business rules and inconsistent data processing.”
The Parable Group’s mission is to provide marketing heft to independent book stores who are competing with large chains, yet its marketing database was in shambles. Because The Parable Group does not own its member stores, standardization is difficult. Further, deciding how to treat customers who shopped at multiple stores—whether as one entity or multiple entities—was a challenge.
Goal: “The Parable Group decided that if CRM was going to be one of our core competencies that we offered to our partner stores, we needed to think about bringing the data work in-house,” explains Blair. “This was a difficult undertaking, because a single [data] warehouse had to reflect hundreds of different stores and small store chains. Each of these is a separate profit center and each has different levels of sophistication.”