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Informatica Integrates and Analyzes Data for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM

  • August 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

With one of the most recognized brands in gift retailing, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM provides a broad range of gift products including flowers, plants, gourmet foods, candies, gift baskets and other unique gifts to customers around the world via the Internet, telephone (available 24 hours a day) or by visiting one of its company-operated or franchised stores. The company's gift product line is extended by the merchandise sold under its other brand names, including home decor and garden merchandise under Plow & Hearth, gourmet food products under and The Popcorn Factory, and children's gifts under Hearthsong and Magic Cabin Dolls.

Our executive management team was constantly seeking a better understanding of our customers and their buying behavior in order to improve the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM customer experience. To do so, it was vital to obtain the best, most accurate data about our customers and their preferences. The initial charter for IT was to implement a data warehouse that would enable 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's database marketing group to identify customers who were open to receiving e-mailings and then distribute highly targeted e-mail promotions. Management was enthusiastic about the marketing and sales potential of e-mail, yet extremely sensitive to heeding the requests of customers who did not want to receive such mailings.

Flower and gift purchases tend to be highly seasonal, with dramatic increases during holidays such as Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. Our initial goal was to develop e-mail campaigns that helped to maximize our opportunities for sales, even during the slower months. We wanted to leverage our customers' buying habits and preferences, strengthen relationships and increase sales. For example, if a customer had recently purchased roses, we wanted to make sure that this customer received information about upcoming rose promotions. We also wanted to be able to track purchases so we could remind our customers of recurring events, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

From a technical standpoint, our primary objective was to integrate and analyze data from a variety of corporate systems, which include ERP, CRM, e-business and legacy systems. This data originated from a variety of businesses: retail storefront, online, telephone and catalog.

Our database marketing team, which focuses on e-mail campaigns, drove the data- integration project. They worked closely with our IT group and outside IT consultants to define the need, then identify and implement an integration solution: Informatica PowerCenter, running on a Sun server. Informatica came highly recommended by our outside consulting firm. To my knowledge, it was the only solution they recommended.

Because we develop on Windows NT as well as Solaris and use multiple database applications from Oracle and Microsoft, it was critical that the solution be flexible and work with a variety of standards and operating systems. Informatica PowerCenter met these requirements.

Our initial needs were quite basic, and we relied heavily on outside consultants for counsel. At that time, the concept of data warehousing was rather new, and we were satisfied with simply being able to access information for mailings. It wasn't until we had the system in place for a few years that we truly realized the extent of its capabilities to allow us to collect and analyze data for trends.

Today, we're focusing more on evaluating data in order to make better business decisions. This kind of analysis allows us to carefully track supply and demand, which means we can better expedite orders, minimize delays and provide extra computing capacity, when and where needed. We're also training more people to work with the system to ensure that we're leveraging it to its fullest potential.

The overall value of the Informatica PowerCenter data integration solution far exceeded our expectations. Informatica PowerCenter has extended our data warehouse capabilities, which resulted in our generating strong, incremental revenue through targeted e-mail campaigns.

We attribute the ongoing growth and success of our business to management's commitment to continually improve and personalize the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM customer experience. At the heart of this effort is our ability to access and analyze customer, sales and interaction data using Informatica.

Informatica PowerCenter, the world-standard enterprise data integration platform, empowers corporations to make insightful, fast and consistent business decisions. Designed to meet the needs of enterprises, Informatica PowerCenter provides integration among e-business and enterprise data sources such as: ERP, CRM, procurement, XML, clickstream, real- time messaging, relational sources, mainframe and legacy systems. The platform delivers the performance to meet the business analytic needs of the most demanding enterprises.

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