Voice of Experience: Blooming Business

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-11-08 Print this article Print

Enzo Micali, chief technology officer of 1-800-Flowers.com, says it's tough today to give everyone in the company a unified view of its 24 million customers.

Enzo Micali
Westbury, N.Y.

MANAGER'S PROFILE: Oversees information-technology strategy for the flower and gift retailer; the company had $671 million in sales for fiscal year 2005, which ended in June.

POSIES TO POPCORN: The company maintains Oracle databases with information on 24 million customers spanning seven brands, including 1-800-Flowers.com, The Popcorn Factory and Plow & Hearth, which sells home and garden products. It builds marketing campaigns—which include 125 million catalogs mailed each year—from a consolidated customer data repository that is "scrubbed" to eliminate duplicate addresses.

PICKING TARGETS: Marketing teams at 1-800-Flowers.com use data-analysis software from SAS Institute to segment customers based on various factors, such as how frequently they've purchased items, to figure out who should get specific offers or catalogs. "We're looking for those gems in the customer database," Micali says.

HIS PROJECT: Micali's next goal is to create a master customer information file that gives call center representatives a composite view of a customer. That could let them, for example, suggest additional products (say, a box of cookies) to someone who might have called only for a flower bouquet. "You want to be able to cross-sell and up-sell your customers," he says. "Although, frankly, some customers don't want you to look at them across the brands, and you have to know that, too."

ORDER CROSSINGS: The company isn't there yet, however. The problem? Today, 1-800-Flowers.com creates customer data in four different order-management systems, legacies of recent acquisitions. "All those systems create or modify customer information," Micali says. "It gets kind of gnarly." Until all of its call centers use a single system (Micali hopes to get down to two by year-end), seeing every customer's interaction with 1-800-Flowers.com requires extracting data from one and transferring it to another. As Micali points out: "You need a lot of rigor in how you manage feeds in and out of these systems."


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