Acxiom and Xchange partner on e-CRM for click-and-mortar businesses

Companies that operate as click-and-mortar businesses face challenges during integration of customer data from virtual and physical stores. Acxiom Corporation and Xchange, Inc. have announced an alliance to meet that challenge, in which Xchange is using Acxiom's AbiliTec software to enhance its own e-CRM solutions.

Companies that operate as click-and-mortar businesses face challenges during integration of customer data from virtual and physical stores. Acxiom Corporation and Xchange, Inc. have announced an alliance to meet that challenge, in which Xchange is using Acxiom's AbiliTec software to enhance its own e-CRM solutions.

AbiliTec will be offered as an optional add-in to the Xchange 4.0 software, the first e-CRM software designed for click-and-mortar businesses. The incorporation of AbiliTec into Xchange 4.0 allows businesses to form more complex portraits of customer relationships using third-party data. Companies can also link contact information captured in real time from multiple touchpoints with legacy data stores.

Microsoft has also chosen AbiliTec to deepen its own customer relationships, due to AbiliTec's real-time aspect, which allows companies to identify and service a customer no matter which touchpoint the customer uses, and AbiliTec's flexible support of multiple marketing tactics. Microsoft plans to use the software as part of their database marketing in their Home & Retail Division, according to Acxiom and Microsoft.

Xchange, meanwhile, is used to track only online activities, according to a spokeswoman for Xchange. By adding AbiliTec, companies can also track offline activities via opt-in lists. For example, an electronics store operating both online and offline could analyze the data of customers that bought an MP3 player six months ago by their incomes, credit cards and purchases they've made at other stores, she said.

"We connect [the data] all together and drive intelligence, analytics, campaign management and real-time touchpoint synchronization," she said. Xchange features a recommendation engine, connects with analytics, and generates call center scripts. Xchange's main competing vendor is E.piphany Inc.

AbiliTec is the customer data integration software (CDI) powered by Acxiom's linking technology and launched by Acxiom last year. As a result of the integration, companies get a much more complete portrait of their customers.

Microsoft said that with AbiliTec, they are better able to keep track of their customers, whether they move frequently or change names. AbiliTec allows the software company to contact its customers in their preferred way, no matter what part of the customer data changes.

"Customer data integration across the enterprise is an important element in enabling highly targeted, cross-channel customer communications," Sam Clark, senior research analyst at Meta Group, said. "It's a logical step toward achieving true e-CRM" for click-and-mortar companies, he added.

The software will eventually run on a thin client, according to the spokeswoman. An upgrade to Xchange 4.0, Xchange 5.0, is expected in January 2001, and further details of the upgrade were not given.

The software is currently available worldwide. Pricing for Xchange with AbiliTec is $10,000 a month for the (application service provider) model, while a licensed version starts at $150.

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