REVIEWER: Anne Ford, e-commerce project manager for MEC.

BACKGROUND: Vancouver, British Columbia-based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is Canada's leading supplier of quality outdoor gear and clothing dedicated to helping adventurers of all nationalities prepare to explore the world's great outdoors. From its modest beginnings in 1971, the company has blossomed into a 1.8 million-member co-op. With annual revenues of more than $160 million (CAD), MEC serves its customers via seven retail stores located throughout Canada as well as a remote sales division that processes telephone and mail orders. In 2001, MEC launched a new e-commerce site powered by Blue Martini's flagship customer relationship management (CRM) software to complement its current sales channels.

PLATFORMS: Three Sun Netra Web Servers, two Sun Enterprise 220R Application Servers and one Sun Enterprise 420R DB Server running Oracle8.1.7.

PROBLEMS SOLVED: We had collected a large volume of online data, including clickstreams, transactions and registration information. However, without thoroughly analyzing this data, we felt like thirsty people in search of water. Blue Martini Business Intelligence was able to provide us with a comprehensive view of our online customers, which included: 1) Web browsing experience including important navigation paths, online searches, effectiveness of certain pages in boosting conversion rates and form errors that dampened the user experience; and 2) purchase preferences, such as the most sought-after products, tendency to choose free versus fixed-cost shipping, spending by geographical location, and the potential for tier-2 and tier-3 customers (low and medium spenders) to migrate to tier-1 customers (heavy spenders). The key insights obtained from our data are empowering our management team to make well-informed decisions to increase online sales and to enhance customer satisfaction.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Blue Martini's Business Intelligence suite provides a rich set of features that meet the needs of both business users and data analysts. The powerful data transformation, aggregation and cleansing capabilities drastically reduce the time it takes to prepare data for analysis. Visualizations of single and multivariable distributions present an overview of the data that aids in the initial data exploration. Advanced analytical methods, such as a rule-based classifier and association rules for product affinities, provide predictive models that can be easily deployed to effectively target customers and recommend cross-sells. A key distinguishing feature in the software is the rich set of visualizations. An interactive visualization feature allows one to visually drill down into the data by slicing and filtering along different dimensions. Timely dissemination of business intelligence is crucial in today's competitive environment, and Blue Martini's Analysis Center provides that portal for sharing insights through a Web browser. Business users can submit analyses with different parameters through the Analysis Center.

STRENGTHS: The powerful data transformation, aggregation and cleansing capabilities in Blue Martini proved to be a boon to the data analyst in terms of the time saved while preparing data for analysis. The rich interactive visualization features enable quick and effective visual analysis of large volumes of data. Important trends and significant aberrations that would otherwise be missed in text and tabular presentations of data are easy to identify using the Blue Martini visualizations. The capability to integrate data from multiple touchpoints provides us with the ability to perform tactical- and strategic-level analyses and obtain a comprehensive view of our customers.

WEAKNESSES: The Blue Martini Business Intelligence suite is not a statistical workbench, such as SAS or SPSS which are used by quantitative statisticians.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We saw how Blue Martini's Business Intelligence suite can provide actionable insights to help set the strategic direction of our Web site.

DELIVERABLES: The Business Intelligence suite generates a comprehensive set of dynamic and interactive reports that are made available throughout the marketing and sales organizations via the Blue Martini Analysis Center.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Blue Martini has provided us with training and excellent support. These helped us answer important questions and obtain powerful insights from our data.

DOCUMENTATION: Detailed documentation and an extensive tutorial accompany the Blue Martini Business Intelligence suite. The Blue Martini developer forum is also an invaluable resource for practical information about Blue Martini.

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