March 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

Bookspan looks to span offline and online customer data

Bookspan LLP is installing middleware from Art Technology Group Inc. to link Bookspan’s customer data in its legacy database with information about its customers’ behavior at its web site, the company says.

 

Bookspan LLP is installing middleware from Art Technology Group Inc. to link Bookspan’s customer data in its legacy database with information about its customers’ behavior at its web site, Steven Brita, director of Internet marketing for Bookspan, tells Internet Retailer.

Bookspan, a partnership between Bertelsmann AG and AOL Time Warner Inc., operates such well known book clubs as Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild, the Doubleday Book Club, the Quality Paperback Book Club, as well as specialty units such as the Mystery Guild and the Science Fiction Book Club.

“We know a lot about our customers already--their purchase history and their account history,” Brita says. “But we need to make sure that when they are online the personalization we provide is as accurate as possible with the legacy data.”

Linking the databases will allow Bookspan to offer more targeted promotions that would zero in on what the customer is likely to respond to and could improve the company’s profitability. “If I know that you’re on the sales and specials page, then I could offer you promotional books at discount. But if I know that you regularly visit the author interviews and excerpts pages, then I could alert you to new excerpts and not have to offer you the discount,” Brita says.

Such a linkage of data would take Bookspan beyond what most e-retailers offer today in personalization, which is mostly collaborative filtering--understanding what customers with similar profiles have bought then offering those products to members of the group who haven’t bought those yet.

Retailers are still far away from delivering true personalization, analysts say. “Retailers’ databases still don’t have the breadth and depth they need,” says Ken Cassar, retail analyst with Jupiter Research. “And they still have not integrated offline and online data.”

 

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