Reflect.com gets personal with E.piphany

Reflect.com bills itself as the Internet's first interactive customized beauty products retailer, but the beauty site wanted to do more, what it needs is real-time personalization of the Web site.

Reflect.com
Problem: Provide highly customized content to customers.

Solution: Implement outsourced version of E.piphany E.5.

Overview: E.piphany's a revelation for Reflect.com
ASP: Reflect.com opts out--picks Interelate's CRM
Enterprise Apps: E.piphany plus e-mail equals easy marketing

For companies looking to improve their online customer relations, Matt Doyel, Reflect.com's director of customer focus, advises doing a thorough analysis of the competition, while keeping in mind what you are trying to accomplish and who will use the completed system.

Jonathan Grayson, vice president of engineering, adds that at Reflect.com, "The people who participated in addressing the problem were those who understood what the customer needed." Grayson brought together marketing experts and engineers to brainstorm the ideal solution before he and Doyel began researching existing products.

When they decided that building a CRM tool in-house would be straying too far from Reflect.com's core competencies, they began interviewing companies that had used various solutions, consultants, and, of course, vendors. They asked such questions as:

  • How is the product being used? Are you using it the way we will use it, and as frequently? Do you use all the components together or separately?
  • How did the implementation go? Was it installed on time and within budget?
  • How do you handle ongoing maintenance and changes to the implementation?
"We wanted a single-source solution. It's so much easier for engineers to work with," says Grayson, who knew that his engineers would be the ones everyone came to when there was a problem.

Doyel's top priority was to find an integrated solution that supported both personalization and e-mail and was available as an outsourced service. He also looked for a company and product with a proven track record in the retail e-commerce space. "I viewed this type of experience as very different than experience with large, more traditional off-line corporate data," he says.

Reflect.com looked at products from Siebel, Personify, Broadbase/Kana, and Xchange before settling on E.piphany E.5. "E.piphany had the analysis component, the campaign-management component, and the ability to create the real-time site experience we required," Grayson says. "If we had needed the analysis only, we would have built our own system. But we needed so much more that it was too big to do ourselves."

The fact that Proctor & Gamble, Reflect.com's parent company, was already an E.piphany customer made the decision easier, but it wasn't the reason Reflect.com opted for E.piphany. In the end, Doyel and Grayson say, it was a good implementation team that led them to their decision. "There were a lot of companies out there with good solutions, but no one in place to build it," Doyel says. In fact, according to Grayson, "choosing the technology was a lot easier than choosing the integrator and developing the integration plan."

The cornerstone of E.piphany is the analytic platform, which, according to Mike Trigg, E.piphany's director of product marketing, let companies query the data mart or data warehouse to "uncover insights" about their customers so they can interact with them and serve them better.

For example, if the Reflect.com's marketing team decided to increase sales of conditioners based on the fact that a heat wave was headed for New York, it would look at the personal information on file for customers who had purchased conditioner in the past to determine the predictors of such as purchase. The marketers would then query the data mart for customers who have those predictors, but have not yet purchased conditioner. Those customers--and those customers only--could be sent e-mail about the upcoming weather and the right conditioner for their hair. Alternatively, the next time they came to the site, those customers might see a message about the humid weather headed their way and the conditioning product.

Lisa Napell Dicksteen is president of LMN Editorial, which handles writing and editing as well as marketing and public relations consulting.

Reflect.com
Problem: Provide highly customized content to customers.

Solution: Implement outsourced version of E.piphany E.5.

Overview: E.piphany's a revelation for Reflect.com
ASP: Reflect.com opts out--picks Interelate's CRM
Enterprise Apps: E.piphany plus e-mail equals easy marketing

For Reflect.com, choosing the appropriate technology to achieve the expanded capabilities required for its customer relationship management enhancement project "was a lot easier than choosing the integrator and developing the integration plan," says Grayson.

"Integration often costs more than the product itself, sometimes twice as much," says Matt Doyel, Reflect.com's director of customer focus. "My top priority was to find a company that had experience implementing the product and would be willing to work with me on a fixed-cost basis for the entire project." This arrangement, he says, was to avoid the common pitfall that many companies experience: engaging a large consulting firm to launch a large technical endeavor and--after months' work and a lot of money--still not having a finished product or a realistic estimate of how much more time and money is required for completion.

Interelate, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based hosted CRM solutions provider, was hired by Reflect.com largely because, according to Grayson, "they came in and said, 'We understand what you want; here's what we can do and what it will cost,' and they offered very good predictability. They made it very clear that they could do this for us in a reasonable way." Interelate hosts an iPlanet Web server on a Sun Enterprise 450 server, and the E.piphany software, which runs on a Sun Enterprise 4500 server running Oracle 8i. Interelate supports the ongoing development and refinement of the system with its own technical and analytical expertise.

Doyel called on many of Interelate's references before committing. "He really called everyone and asked a lot of sophisticated questions," says Laine Fuller, Interelate's director of sales for the Western U.S. "I think it was that, plus our focus on CRM in general and our history of implementing E.piphany that did it. That, and [the fact that] our time to market was shorter than the [competition's]."

Naturally, a project as large as this one was rolled out in stages. Phase 1, the all-important analysis, went online in March 2001; real-time personalization followed in April and campaign management in May.

Reflect.com
Problem: Provide highly customized content to customers.

Solution: Implement outsourced version of E.piphany E.5.

Overview: E.piphany's a revelation for Reflect.com
ASP: Reflect.com opts out--picks Interelate's CRM
Enterprise Apps: E.piphany plus e-mail equals easy marketing

Reflect.com always had the technology to create customized products for its customers. "What we needed was to bring our outbound programs up to the same level of sophistication," says Reflect.com's Grayson.

Using E.piphany's customer relationship management software to handle analysis, campaign management, and real-time personalization of the Internet experience, Reflect.com has brought its marketing technology in line with the rest of the company.

Now the marketing department has a number of e-mail campaign-management options, none of which requires a full-time technology expert to implement.

For example, the marketing department may decide it needs to send e-mail to customers who have blond hair and live in areas with more swimming pools than ocean access. A query to the E.piphany data mart via Reflect.com's intranet would generate an e-mail piece (developed and written by the marketing department) that goes out to all the selected customers offering them a special price on conditioner that keeps blond hair from turning "swimming pool green" from prolonged contact with chlorinated water. Brunettes, redheads, and blondes living close to the Pacific Ocean would receive no e-mail.

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