December 27, 2004, 12:00 AM

How Spencer Gifts uses the web to stay in tune with customers’ music

To the 650-store chain Spencer Gifts, music is the medium for connecting with its youthful customer base. But the web now makes delivering that music more in tune with running efficient and friendly stores, Spencer says.


To the 650-store Spencer Gifts chain, music is the medium for connecting in-store with its youthful customer base. But the web now makes delivering that music more in tune with running efficient and friendly stores, promotion manager Mike Champion tells “Music is a driving force in our customers’ lifestyle, so we’re feeding them music to keep their interest,” he says.

Spencer, based in Eggs Harbor, NJ, with stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, for years has relied on music played over store speakers as a means of connecting with its customers. But until recently, it faced the costly chore of distributing CDs to each store. And producing CDs with particular tracks of music and promotional messages-designed for, say, Valentine’s Day or spring break-required a lead time of eight weeks. “If I wanted something in the stores by Jan. 1, I had to have it in production by Nov. 1,” Champion says.

But now, with a web-based music system from Trusonic Inc., Spencer can develop new music programs, including store promotional messages, and have them playing in each store within a day. And while in the past some store managers may have installed the wrong CD or had to insert a substitute for a scheduled CD that never arrived, now all they have to do is adjust the volume. Once Champion produces a new music track from a digital music library and loads it to a web server, the track is automatically downloaded to each store. “Now the music is playing when the store manager opens the store,” he says.

The system also offers other benefits, he adds. Because different demographic groups common to individual stores may be known to prefer certain kinds of music, Spencer uses the Trusonic system to program different music tracks for different groups of stores. The immediacy of distribution supports instant feedback from store managers, Champion says.

Spencer also plays music and promotions to coincide with holidays, but this presented extra costs when it had to produce and distribute different CDs to accommodate different holidays in the U.S. and Canada. “Canadian stores don’t have a Black Friday, because Canada’s Thanksgiving is in October,” Champion says. “Under the old system, I would’ve incurred additional charges to send music to Canada.”

The web-based system also helps Spencer’s store clerks interact with customers, he adds. Because clerks can now read on a display terminal connected to the Trusonic system the names of the song and artist currently playing, they can inform customers about the music they’re listening to. “It’s another way to get our stores involved with our guests,” Champion says.



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