A more consistent data collection process has helped Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. reach customers who buy its products mainly from resellers.
Using marketing automation firm DataLode's RealConnect technology, the Irvine, CA, arm of Japan's Toshiba Corp. is also seeing better add-on sales of warranty upgrades and extensions.
“Our product registration rates have increased nearly 50 percent with DataLode, and warranty sales through this new solution now account for about 10 percent of our total sales on a monthly basis,” said Tyler Beaty, product manager for mobility services and solutions at Toshiba America's computer systems group.
Beaty's group is responsible within Toshiba for U.S. sales of notebook computers, personal digital assistants and servers. But like many marketers, the company lacked a holistic picture of its customer.
For example, it had different customer acquisition vehicles, low customer acquisition rates and myriad customer data sources. Even the process of getting customer information to its call center was complex. With customer information spread across different data sources, timely offers could not be made.
DataLode, San Rafael, CA, helped Toshiba replace its old customer acquisition infrastructure to address those challenges. The DataLode RealConnect Marketing application was used.
In the next phase, the company implemented outbound marketing communications, particularly relevant to its customers. Another key objective, of course, was to increase extended-warranty sales.
That second phase was implemented easily since the RealConnect technology is modular. Adding products like RealConnect Commerce or RealConnect Support required no new technology. Only a simple configuration was needed on the RealConnect Server.
Toshiba began outbound communications with a highly targeted offer to sell warranties directly to its customers. Earlier, warranties were available only through its site, www.shoptoshiba.com, and resellers.
After examining its customer registration data and historical warranty purchases, the company created five extended-warranty offers to provide in real time to notebook customers.
The offers are based on the information given by the customer in the product registration process. This way, customers get a relevant offer based on their personal demographics, product and product use.
Once customers register their notebook, the information is sent via modem through a TCP/IP connection to the RealConnect Server. The server checks the responses to see whether an extended warranty already has been purchased. If yes, the extended-warranty confirmation almost immediately is sent to the customer.
If not, customers are invited to buy the extended warranty. They are presented with a pre-populated purchase screen with information provided during their registration. Only the credit card number and expiration date are needed to complete the transaction.
Once that is done, RealConnect Server processes the card authorization and an approval screen with details of the transaction appears. An e-mail confirmation follows. Simplifying the process has increased response to a personalized offer for an extended warranty.
Now, Toshiba looks to expand the number and type of offerings marketed to its customers through the DataLode solution.
“The concern is over-marketing to the customer, resulting in confusion and a decrease in add-on sales,” Beaty said.
Still, the company recently launched its second offering, a consumer-targeted computer security product from Absolute Software Inc. This is not warranty-related.
Customer reaction to this security product and sales activity are being watched closely. Aided by DataLode, the company is tracking the number of registrations, offers and sales, among other measurements.
“We have no timetable to launch other products or offers until we have a chance to further measure the results of the current offerings and their impact on the customer experience,” Beaty said.
Toshiba's strategy is to offer a complete solution for its customer, not just a computer. The computer systems group is sharing its experience with DataLode with other divisions to create a more consistent customer data collection process as well as boost add-on sales.
“There is a need to seek further growth in add-on sales beyond the PC, which provide higher margins and increased customer loyalty,” Beaty said. “Consumers spend millions of dollars a year on warranty extensions and upgrades, accessories and other add-on products. If they're not buying them from Toshiba, they're buying them from someone else.”