Profile on Plow & Hearth--Reaping What You Sow (2,623 words)
The product worked by comparing it to transaction data, such as number of line items and total sale, even with limited gender and geographic data from customer records.
"One of the big benefits of the modeling is we reduce the number of times we make the offer to make the selling program more efficient so we could sell throughout the busy season," says Hay. He also notes that the program delivers friendly scripts for less-experienced seasonal workers.
For holiday 1999, Plow & Hearth upped the number of item-specific upsell suggestions, each selected by a human merchandiser, not predictive software. "This year we have in the neighborhood of 200 different item-specific selling scripts," says Hay.
Expanding on the Web
The next step for Plow & Hearth will be extending upselling and other advanced merchandising features to its Web site, launched as an e-commerce site for holiday 1998. The company is currently working on enhancing the site's features and functionality.
The site's front-end interface is designed by Fry Multimedia of Ann Arbor, MI, while the catalog back end handles the fulfillment of orders, which are batch-loaded into its off-line system.
The upgrades to the site will come courtesy of Plow & Hearth's new parent, 1-800-FLOWERS.
In spring 1998, explains Peter Rice, "We were in the typical entrepreneurial situation where my wife and I were shareholders who had invested in the company over time, and we were looking for a strategy to get liquidity."
Plow & Hearth was in the middle of dramatic growth in profits and revenue, and its 300,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art Virginia distribution center was a sought-after asset for any dot-com. With a good bargaining position, the Rices wanted to sell to a strategic buyer who would bring a lot to the table besides just cash.
Larry West, a merger and acquisition expert with New York-based West and Co., sorted through the company's suitors.