MVC is a subsidiary of Woolworth plc, and a leading British retail supplier of CDs, DVDs, videos and computer games. The company has 89 stores across the U.K. MVC has twice been awarded the prestigious British Video Association Group Success of the Year Award for its innovative product ranges and software. MVC is committed to delivering continuous value to its members and achieving its objective of 100 percent customer satisfaction.

MVC offers its customers a loyalty program that entitles members to price reductions on purchased items. The program is free to join. Customers simply provide their name and address details to register. Each member then receives a membership card, which can be used to receive discounts at any MVC store.

MVC's database contains more than 6 million customers, as well as details of every transaction for each customer. However, due to integration requirements with legacy software and incompatible systems, MVC found it too expensive to put its data assets to work to create effective targeted marketing campaigns.

MVC had several requirements for a new system. The system must be able to reconcile duplicate memberships, which occurred often because customers could easily create new memberships when they found themselves in a store without a membership card. It should also synchronize customer information, such as address, with data on buying habits, forming discrete marketing segments. Because queries originally took several analyst-days to process, the new system also needed to reduce the time spent collecting data.

MVC started to look at the different components of CRM in early 2001. Executives asked themselves what their top priority was and decided that the best ROI would come from customer analysis. MVC already had call centers and realized that it also needed to look at operational aspects, but these bigger projects are still under review.

After consulting with business users, the corporate IT department considered products from different CRM and business intelligence vendors as well as the option of building products in house. The ability to handle the diverse data types derived from Web logs, loyalty programs and store transactions was crucial in delivering the most complete picture of the customer to marketing users, while the IT department had to ensure any solution would work with its existing systems. Once the company opted for the Alterian analysis platform, MVC retained systems integrator eWare Interactive in a consulting role. MVC selected Alterian because it allows the company to up-sell and cross-sell in line with its customers' pre-identified interests and individual customer needs.

In only five working days, eWare produced a working prototype system, including lifestyle and demographic data. The new solution is capable of analyzing the entire database, including 6 million customers and more than 100 million transactions, in seconds. In only four weeks, the final system was fully up and running, just in time for the busy Christmas period.

MVC had very specific data analysis needs which could not be met by off-the-shelf packages. Using eWare's Alterian-based analysis solution, MVC fully utilized its unique data assets by turning its raw data into more value for members of the MVC loyalty program.

Practical Advice

  • Always test with your data and your questions. Do the proof of concept in the conference room. If it takes more than a day to set up for this demonstration, it will take much longer to answer your questions in the future.
  • Because analysis is a process, understand how the answers integrate with operational marketing systems. "How do I send a list to campaign management?"
  • Understand what it takes to add new business metrics such as "share of wallet" or "purchase cycle." How do I score the database?
  • Understand the integration time and how long after the data is loaded before it is ready to use. Can the system be used to make an impact?

The Alterian solution enables MVC to improve the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns through reduced waste from inaccurately targeted mailings. This has led to higher response rates and allows MVC to deliver more value to its members. Equally important, the solution is helping MVC achieve its objective of 100 percent customer satisfaction.

The Alterian Suite delivers sophisticated analysis across vast data sets and can handle complex data queries quickly. Alterian customers gain actionable insight into their data and rapid return on their investment. Alterian's industry-leading Column Based Analytical Technology (CBAT) is a powerful engine that sits within an extremely flexible development environment.

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