SOURCE: Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

February 01, 2007 15:34 ET

88% of Best-in-Class Retailers See Improved Sales Performance

Effective Measurement and Management of Multi-Channel Processes Yield Incremental Gains in Sales Performance

BOSTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 1, 2007 -- Retailers that are measuring and managing multi-channel processes effectively are reaping incremental gains in sales performance. Eighty-eight percent of best-in-class retailers that effectively measure and manage multi-channel processes achieve an above-average year-over-year comparable sales performance, says "21st Century Retailer: Managing Customers, Merchandise & Data," a new report from Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS).

Aberdeen research reveals that best-of-breed web and in-store analytic solutions available in real time have been selected as the top multi-channel technology improvement choices by 70% of retailers surveyed across multiple retail segments. According to report findings, real-time analytics solutions are headed towards increased adoption as cross-channel dependence on integrated customer processes and centralized warehousing of data are showing an upward trend within retail.

"Centralized databases, distributed information, and order management systems lead to a seamless customer experience," says report co-author, John Lovett, eCommerce Analyst, Aberdeen Group. "Our data shows that 63% of best-in-class retailers use centralized databases and 57% leverage integrated order management systems."

The report discloses that 69% of retailers are working to create a single brand identity across all channels, thereby minimizing the distinction between shopping preferences. Sixty-six percent of retailers are taking this even further by prioritizing CRM systems and processes across channels to facilitate customers' ability to purchase, take delivery, or return a product through the channel of their choice. Aberdeen data indicates that 51% of retailers surveyed have indicated planned adoption of real-time customer update tools within the next 12-24 months.

"Revenue, gross margin, and customer satisfaction gains await retailers that are committed to optimizing their use of multi-channel solutions and are focused on improving customer management, data management, and merchandising/inventory management," says report co-author, Sahir Anand, Retail Analyst. The report concludes that although multi-channel retail "nirvana" has not been attained by any class of retailer, many are gaining ground through data integration and centralized systems.

The key recommendations cited in the report are related to the importance of service-oriented architecture (SOA) in retail. If the average retailer wants to move to the next level, attaining best-in-class status in terms of process, innovation, and bottom-line results, the company must embrace a multi-channel customer experience through technology and solutions that are readily available. Even if the deployment of such multi-channel service-oriented applications (SOA) is small, it is a start for creating a highly satisfied and loyal base of customers who will experience the benefits of a unified multi-channel strategy in their shopping everyday.

This report is underwritten by Alpha Bay, Junction Solutions, and CommercialWare. The report provides recommended steps to guide retailers that need to close in on the industry leaders, as well as best-in-class companies striving to maintain their competitive advantage. Obstacles to multi-channel management are many, but this report illustrates they are not insurmountable.

To download a complimentary copy of the report for a limited time, please visit:

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to

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