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Escalate Broadens Retail Customer Base

July 27, 2007

By Jeff O'Heir

Escalate Retail, a developer of retail customer relationship and customer experience management solutions, is finding a broader audience for its Relationship Marketing and Clienteling applications as it adds new functions and features to better serve customer needs.

Relationship Marketing is designed to improve customer loyalty by helping retail marketing and sales associates monitor key customer events, such as weddings, birthdays, address changes, as well as buying habits, via email, point-of-sale applications and hand-held devices. Relationship Marketing automatically determines the best communication for each customer across channels and then tracks response and conversion rates. The tool can help determine in real-time the best Web page, call center script or POS receipt message for each customer based on past activity and current retail events.

In the past, the application was targeted mainly to large retailers, such as Brooks Brothers and Bloomingdales. But as more retailers expand their brick-and-mortar and e-commerce operations, there is a growing need to seamlessly integrate the transactional and operational elements of those two worlds, Brian Dean, Escalate's senior vice president of strategy and marketing, said at the company's recent World User Conference in Miami.

"We've been building up our retail component architecture to provide more real-time services and give consistent capabilities across multi channels," he said.

Some of the new features include better in-store product search capabilities to help retailers cross sell additional products; tighter integration with back-office operations such as call centers; deeper customer information, which includes key scripts that sales people can follow to develop closer customer relationships, and broader notification tools to alert key customers of special product sales or promotions.

"The entirety of the customer experience drives sales," Dean said. "Retailers are finding increasing value in designing strategies that span their channels and incorporate customer intelligence."

Escalate, which formed last year through the merger of Florida-based Ecometry and GERS, based in California, targets retail and direct marketing companies with sales ranging from $20 million through large tier 1 retailers. The cost of its implementations vary, depending on integration complexity, and the company can customize its offerings to fit a wide variety of needs and budgets, Dean said.

Several retailers at the conference said their dealings with Escalate have been positive.

"The solution works great," said Ed Smith, CIO of Abt Electronics, which recently implemented Escalate's Merchandising and Inventory solutions. "A big win is that it has minimized the amount of hours we spend training new associates."

The solutions are also highly customizable, which allows Smith to integrate them with Abt's other systems. "It's really what you make of it," he said. "I believe in having all the right resources so you are able to do things yourself."

Gallery Furniture, a Houston retailer that also sells consumer electronics, uses Escalate's Big Ticket platform, which ranges from point of sale, customer service, merchandising, distribution, and financial solutions to business intelligence, CRM, and E-commerce.

Walter Dunnigan, a systems operator and jack-of-all-trades at Gallery, said Escalate has been "a very good partner. They quickly react to their partners needs. The product is also very robust."

During the fourth quarter, Escalate customers can expect a single unified support portal; more offerings, including products, toolkits and services, from third-party software developers, said Stewart Bloom, Escalate's CEO.

© 2007 Dealerscope, North American Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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