New CRM system speeds Sears campaign process: DMA2010

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A new CRM system has improved Sears Holdings' campaign execution from two and a half months to three and a half days, Tony Arnold, director of CRM at the company, told an audience at the DMA: 2010 Conference & Exhibition.

It took two years to integrate and implement the Unica CRM system with the 230 million households in the Sears database, Arnold said. After launching it last October, the company now executes 270 campaigns a month. The system has vastly simplified and sped up the back end processes, allowing Sears more flexibility and saving it money.

“There's too much data to go through today,” he said. “You need a fast, responsive system. We wanted the ability to target someone who walks into a Sears Auto Center and to give them an offer to take 20% off in store while they wait. We didn't have that.”

“We were spending a fortune on SQL coders, and if it took two and a half months for, say, a Craftsman Club campaign, the numbers add up quick,” Arnold added.

Unica's systems integrate with Sears' other marketing services vendors, including its ESP provider, Responsys, and Epsilon, which works on a number of programs for the retailer, including loyalty, creative services, segmentation, CRM and some e-mail delivery.

“It would have been difficult to do this internally,” Arnold said. “[Vendors] allow us to expand and scale.”

When Arnold joined Sears a year ago from Infogroup, he also aimed to streamline other customer marketing, such as the company's e-mail program.

“Previously Sears was sending 20 to 30 e-mails a month in each business,” he said. “I don't know about you, but I don't like any brand that much.”

Still, Sears is on track to send 10 billion customer e-mails this year among its 33 brands, including Sears, Kmart and Land's End.

A new customer preference center, where customers can update their information and tell Sears how they prefer to be contacted, including in what language, has given the company another data point. Hosted by Epsilon, the center “paid for itself in one month,” Arnold said.

“It's mind blowing what people will tell you if you just present them with a form,” he said. "You want customers to be able to tell you what they want."

The company is conducting a campaign to encourage more of its customers and loyalty members to participate in the “preference” center. So far, 5% of its base has opted in.

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