Epsilon Debuts MarkeTier at NCDM

Epsilon, Burlington, MA, is set to announce a prepackaged customer relationship marketing solution aimed at catalog and retail direct marketers at this week's National Center for Database Marketing's 21st National Conference & Exhibition in Seattle.

The solution — MarkeTier — will integrate Epsilon's marketing information systems consulting, database development and management and analytical modeling and statistical analysis tools with components from a variety of other companies to offer catalog and retail companies an open-architectural database marketing solution. Components include Sun Microsystems Enterprise Series hardware platform; Oracle's relational database; MicroStrategy for query, analysis and reporting; Epsilon Campaign Manager for campaign planning, execution and tracking; SAS Institute for modeling; Firstlogic's i.d. Centric for name/address standardization and householding; and Maestro for scheduling.

The product will be implemented by Epsilon, and customers will purchase it directly from the company. Pricing has yet to be determined. According to Epsilon, the system can be set up in a few months vs. the sometimes 18 months it takes to develop a robust solution.

Here's how MarkeTier works: A retailer collects data from any of its internal operational systems — such as its point-of-sale system, order-entry system or customer-service center — and gives it to Epsilon. Epsilon, in turn, compiles it, loads it into an Oracle database and organizes it at an individual customer level. Then, it uses a standard data model to rank individual customers to their household or business and enhances the data by appending demographic information from a data overlay source. After this, customers will either take the information back or have Epsilon work with it, using tools that will let them update it either nightly or weekly with orders or purchases. Companies can use standard reports, exploratory reports — allowing them to drill down and drill up to get more information about a particular customer segment — and analytic reports.

The system lets users store “all of the interactions a company has with its customers,” said Lisa Henderson, vice president of the retail and catalog division at Epsilon. “They will be able to work with information about customer's product purchases, about the catalogs they have been sent, responded to and purchased from, and details about the promotions they received.”

The solution includes an analytic component that lets users predict whether someone is going to respond to a particular promotion by looking at historical data.

“The interface of this application is very user friendly and designed for someone who is marketing oriented but has some analytic savvy,” Henderson said. “While it is not for modelers, it allows users to get the benefits of a model on-the-fly as they are setting up a segmentation scheme. This is very important to the retail and catalog marketers because many of them do not have in-house modelers.”

MarkeTier is designed to be implemented in two phases:

* The first phase allows companies to set up the system in house in a couple of months and use all of the tools and functionality required for a database marketing program.

* The second phase lets companies integrate additional applications and requirements on an as-needed basis and tweak the system via Epsilon's consulting services.

The system includes training and documentation for users and system administrators. Marketers have the option to house their database at their site or to outsource system management to Epsilon.

According to Epsilon, this is the first product in a series of prepackaged customer relationship management solutions it will offer to vertical market segments in the coming months.

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