February 27, 2003, 12:00 AM

Web services support multi-channel CRM

REI Inc. is building a web services-based CRM system for its three selling channels. “If we want to have a successful user experience across all channels, we need integrated systems,” says Ernest Hughes, director of technical services.

While collecting, analyzing and responding to customer buying behavior is a tough enough challenge in a single selling channel, doing all that across multiple channels can be a truly daunting endeavor that requires a high level of integrated systems. That`s why REI Inc. is building a web services-based CRM system for its three selling channels. “If we want to have a successful, common user experience across all channels, we need integrated systems,” Ernest Hughes, director of technical services, tells Internet Retailer.

REI, which right now is using XML to integrate data between REI.com’s e-commerce platform and its corporatewide customer relationship management application, is planning to use web services to build more integration between its CRM system and its three selling channels–-stores, catalog and web site. That will enable the CRM system to better collect and analyze customer buying behavior in all channels and issue targeted e-mail and other types of marketing programs to audiences based on buying behavior, Hughes says.

Web services technology uses XML and other Internet standards to integrate disparate applications and operating platforms and enable different applications to automatically push and pull data between them. A CRM system, for example, can more easily pull data from the sales applications of different channels and then send automated e-mail marketing messages to customers.

 

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