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Blue Martini toasts marketing app

Blue Martini Software is to debut an application designed to allow marketers to orchestrate communications across sales channels to capture new customers and boost profitability from existing sales.

The Blue Martini Relationship Marketing application enables enterprises to engage in multi-step dialogues with customers that are triggered by events, such as buying a specific brand of merchandise in a store, contacting a call centre with a complaint or searching for a product via a Web site.

These dialogues - driven by monitoring customer behaviour spanning sales channels - can include relevant offers or follow-up communications to elicit purchases.

"It allows that marketer to have a real dialogue with the customer," said Michelle De Haaff, Blue Martini director of product management. "They're able to watch the customer and say, 'This particular offer is relevant to this set of customers.' They're able to provide a relevant offer, not just a mass blast offer."

Shipping in June, the application is designed to work with any e-commerce, CRM or ERP system via industry-standard protocols, according to company officials. Marketers can use it to send leads or offers via other front-office applications, such as call centre, sales force automation and third-party websites.

The solution also can receive dialogue triggers such as inventory backlog, or order placement from back-end applications such as ERP and supply chain management applications. For integration, users can use the Web services interface in the product, use Tibco's enterprise application integration software, or one of Blue Martini Software's pre-built adaptors.

With its new technology, Blue Martini is differentiating itself in the market by allowing retailers to link electronic dialogue to bricks and mortar stores, said James Crawford, an analyst with Forrester Research.

In 2001, 3% of retail sales were transacted online, with another 3% finalised via catalogues, Crawford said. The remaining 94% of sales were completed in stores.

"Companies can use electronic intelligence from a dialogue management system in store interactions," he added.

The application would enable Wilson Sporting Goods to improve its online warranty registration, thus allowing the company to attract and service new customers through the life of their products, said Rick Kerpsak, director of interactive marketing at Wilson.

The software would also provide the company with valuable customer data to boost marketing with existing customers, he added.

Despite the potential of the application, Blue Martini will have to provide a migration path for users, said Forrester's Crawford.

"It's difficult to take baby steps into it, to go from zero - where most retailers are today - to fully utilising the tool," he said. "Blue Martini is going to have to offer some steps into it."

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