System Solutions: A Best-of-Breed Strategy
A generation ago if you wanted to automate a catalog business you had two choices.
You could buy a catalog management system that supported all operations in the call center and the warehouse, from order entry through fulfillment and customer database management. Or you could build such a system yourself.
Indeed, nearly all the “packaged” solutions started out as in-house systems that were put onto the market to recoup the catalog company’s investment.
The systems landscape for catalog marketers looks very different today. Not only is the Internet an increasingly important sales and marketing channel that must be incorporated into your enterprise systems plan, but there now are a variety of systems to consider for running your operations, from customer relationship management applications to warehouse management systems.
The days when the all-inclusive catalog management system (CMS) was the only game in town seem to be over. Today, you can choose to implement one, two or a few best-of-breed solutions that meet your operations requirements.
- You need heavy-duty analysis? Consider a data warehouse or data mart, plus an analytical platform or a database marketing application.
- Do you place a high priority on merchandise management? There are merchandise management and forecasting tools, including some that will manage your product image for multiple channels (e.g., Web, catalog, e-mail) and even handle square-inch analysis.
- Do you want a more efficient pipeline to your suppliers? Consider supply chain management systems.
- Do you engage in many promotional campaigns in multiple media? Campaign management and workflow tools can help.
The list goes on, especially for the Web, where everything from collaborative filtering and self-help, to e-mail management and enterprise-portal systems can enhance your company’s functionality. It’s enough to get your head spinning
A Reality Check
Before we look at the steps needed to approach best-of-breed solutions, let’s pause for a dose of reality.