Once we started the process of searching for a new commerce solution we began to realize that the solution would have to be CRM-driven.
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Maintaining robust in-store sales of our footwear, apparel, and accessories has never been a problem for Finish Line, which began operations in 1976 and currently serves customers in 45 states, in more than 480 stores.
In 1999 we extended that business to online, with a commerce site that was geared toward producing business in conjunction with our catalog. While the site was more than adequate four years ago, as time wore on we found that it was expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Plus, the platform could not scale quickly enough to meet sales demands. Further, the way it was constructed allowed little room to personalize online transactions or integrate online and in-store sales. By mid-2002 we realized that we were losing sales and marketing opportunities, and something had to be done.
Once we started the process of searching for a new commerce solution we began to realize that the solution would have to be CRM--driven. Our goals had come to include the ability to capture customer-specific data for use in marketing programs, and to provide some customer service online in the form of FAQs based on the types of calls that we most frequently get in our offline call center.
Another important component was giving customers the ability to view their Winner's Circle preferred-customer account online. Winner's Circle is a membership reward program that issues customers a $20 gift certificate for every $200 they spend at Finish Line. Previously, only in-store or catalog sales were applied to the Winner's Circle account. This did not make it attractive for members to buy online.
On top of all that, it was important that the new online features depicted the same style and feel as the stores, so that customers would feel comfortable.
After defining our goals we set out to find a company that would suit our needs. Ultimately we went with Art Technology Group's ATG Commerce and ATG Portal, because its scenario server was an attractive technological point for us.
Once the decision had been made we set out to get the implementation done in the short period after our back-to-school rush in September 2002, and before our Christmas rush began in early November. Although it wasn't a hard-and-fast deadline, being able to complete the implementation in this time frame would make the most business sense.
Not only did we meet our deadline, but since the new system has been up customers are now able to see their Winner's Circle account online, and our representatives can see all transactions--whether in-store, online, or catalog--in one place. This is of great benefit to customers, because let's say a purchase is made, but the customer doesn't have their Winner's Circle card on hand; the transaction number is visible to us within moments and clients can call a customer service rep to have the purchase applied to their account.
For online orders we are now able to issue shipment tracking, as well as send details of customers' order status via email--something we couldn't do before. Best of all, our performance issues have been solved and we can look to the future, which includes slicing and dicing the customer data we are collecting for use in more targeted marketing programs.
Using a CRM--driven approach to its e-commerce initiative, Finish Line scored some great results:
Online corporate sales increased by 240 percent in 2002;
Conversion rates grew by nearly 100 percent;
Gross margins were significantly improved by creating excitement for new products and limiting discounted merchandise
for bargain shoppers;
Shopping cart--abandonment rates were reduced;
The Web site's traffic increased to more than 700,000 page views per day, with no performance problems.
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