February 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

How Orvis uses cross-channel data to boost sales

With an enterprise view of customer activity and inventory across its three retailing channels of web, catalogs and stores, outdoor apparel and recreational products retailer Orvis is able to build sales and improve customer service, it says.

With an enterprise view of customer activity and inventory across its three retailing channels of web, catalogs and stores, outdoor apparel and recreational products retailer The Orvis Co. Inc. is able to build sales and improve customer service, says Mark Holmes, vice president of information technology.

“If we have a customer who only purchases our pet products suddenly starts buys a fishing rod, we’ll trigger an automatic e-mail to him promoting fishing gear,” Holmes says.

The trick is knowing enough about such a customer to realize when he or she is showing interest in different products through any of the retailer’s selling channels, he adds. Orvis identifies individual customer activity across channels in multiple ways, such as with network cookies, credit card accounts and loyalty programs. It also operates on a technology platform that combines analytics data on web, call center and store sales, which enables it to plan and react to sales across each channel, Holmes says.

Orvis compiles the cross-channel data in a Business Objects business intelligence application that pulls information from Coremetrics web analytics, Manhattan Associates inventory management and merchandise planning technology, a point-of-sale system from Epicor Software Co., and contact center records. It also integrates this information with its Unica e-mail management system for triggering e-mail promotions based on customer activity.

The system enables Orvis to get a universal view of both how customers are shopping across its channels and the availability of inventory, enabling the retailer to quickly respond to customer interests with more efficient fulfillment as well as targeted promotions.

“I call it relentless integration and relentless customer service,” Holmes says. “If we have a customer waving a credit card at us anywhere in our multi-channel enterprise, and we have the product she wants anywhere in our enterprise, we should be able to satisfy that demand.”

Orvis is No. 122 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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