Step Up to World Class Standards (1,745 words)
Customer segmentation also may be based on demographics available from third-party data sources. Typically, such data are overlayed onto your customer file by third-party service bureaus, which may also provide more focused expertise for statistical analysis and segmentation than you may reasonably afford in-house.
One final thought: Few direct-commerce companies have achieved "systems nirvana." This is a dynamic field, with most vendors still modifying and re-engineering their solutions to take advantage of emerging technologies.
To invest your dollars wisely, create an enterprise systems plan. It should be a work-in-progress that can accommodate changes as you grow, as the competitive environment shifts (to incorporate mobile commerce, for example), and as the state-of-the-art in object-oriented, componentized systems evolve.
Ernie Schell is president of Marketing Systems Analysis, Southampton, PA, and author of "The Guide to Catalog Management Software." He can be reached at (215) 396-0660, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.