SAN MATEO (05/23/2000) - Building an e-commerce site is just the first step in developing a strong online storefront. In the long run, the success of your company's ecommerce site depends on fostering good customer relationships with current shoppers and potential buyers.
Midsize businesses eager to develop and maintain customer relationships and build a site should consider Entice 2.0, Multiactive Software Inc.'s integrated e-CRM (customer relationship management) and e-commerce solution. Version 2.0 offers many enhancements to this already great e-business solution with the addition of support for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled devices.
Multiactive's Maximizer has long competed in the CRM arena with products from vendors such as Pivotal, SalesLogix, and Goldmine. The company's Entice solution integrates sales, marketing, and customer service with e-commerce, creating a complete solution for midsize businesses whose staffs have little programming experience. Multiactive is the only CRM vendor I've seen to offer this attractive combination of CRM and e-commerce tools.
Entice 2.0 helps companies save money by enabling them to purchase a single solution to handle e-CRM and e-commerce, thereby avoiding integration issues.
Entice is divided into four sections -- Customer Relationship Management, Reporting and Analysis, E-commerce, and Configuration -- and is priced according to the suite and the number of modules you choose. Its tools let users, for example, create automated marketing campaigns via the Campaign Manager, manage accounts and sales orders via the Account Manager, and set up shop with an online store builder and Web forms designer.
By providing additional tools such as the Customer Prospector and the E-business Advisor, Entice eases the tasks of acquiring customers and maintaining relationships and helps establish your company's online presence.
For example, the Customer Prospector helps users import subscribed lists from outside services, such as ListWarehouse, for targeting marketing campaigns.
Also, as you build an e-commerce site, the E-business Advisor provides tips and suggestions for designing the site and registering with search engines.
Entice brings together all of your customer information, making it easily accessible to account managers, sales representatives, and CIOs from any Web browser or WAP-enabled mobile device: Managers can access account status, sales representatives can verify product shipping information, and executives can oversee team activity and sales revenue.
In addition, this easy-to-deploy solution requires minimal effort from your IS department to set up and support. Once it was installed on my Windows NT Internet Information Server (IIS) and Microsoft SQL 7.0 database, I started creating an online shop with Entice's E-store Manager. I made catalog sections and added products and images. I could select from more than 26 currencies and choose from various templates to display my store. The E-store Manager also lets a site manager set promotions and relate items for cross-selling purposes.
This release supports wireless access from any WAP-enabled device by creating Web forms, such as for store promotions, with the One to One Designer. It has a drag-and-drop interface that nonprogrammers, such as account managers, should find easy to use. Entice ships with many sample projects to help with your design, including one-line projects such as store coupons and promotions. Such projects can be outputted in HTML or WML (Wireless Markup Language) without any coding.
Using a WAP-enabled NeoPoint Web phone, I could access account information to inquire about a customer's account status and request account information. Such wireless support gives account managers and sales representatives access to vital data from wherever they may be.
Additionally, when I posed as a Web customer, I could obtain item recommendations by answering a few simple questions presented in a menu selection on my WAP-enabled phone's display. In other instances, customers could order products or check the status of their accounts from their Web phones.
Information gathered on your Web site via customer input forms is automatically added into Entice for easy follow-up and tracking. For example, when I placed an order or made an inquiry to my test site, the information I supplied via these forms was entered into the Entice system.
This integration between the sales, marketing, and e-commerce modules can help your company attract new customers and maintain current ones. The information can easily be tied to automated campaigns that are triggered via the Campaign Manager. All of this information can also be analyzed via the reporting and analysis modules, helping companies track customer profiles and the success of their marketing campaigns.
Entice 2.0 is an integrated e-commerce and e-CRM solution that provides easy-to-use tools for creating a Web catalog, automating campaigns, enhancing customer relationships, and tracking orders. Geared toward helping midsize businesses build a strong presence on the Web, this solution really packs a punch by delivering a full set of e-business tools in one package at a competitive price. However, this version supports only Windows NT, IIS, and Microsoft SQL, so if you're running different platforms, you may have to wait for the next release to deploy Entice.
Senior analyst Lori Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Internet-based workgroup, collaboration, and training tools.
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD
Business Case: This e-business solution integrates e-commerce and e-CRM. It supports WAP, so account managers and CIOs will have varied access to customer and sales information, which will improve sales teams and increase internal communications.
Technology Case: Entice 2.0 puts the tools necessary for managing customer relationships and sales promotions in the hands of nonprogrammers, such as account managers. Users and customers can access site information via browsers and WAP-enabled devices.
+ Integrated wireless support
+ Wide range of currency support
+ Accounts can be updated from the Web or WAP-enabled devices+ Integrates e-commerce and e-CRM toolsCons:
- Limited server platform support
Cost: E-business Suite: $50,000; Marketing Suite: $1,000 per seat; Sales Suite:
$600 per seat
Platform(s): Windows NT, Microsoft IIS, SQL 7.0Multiactive Software Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia; (800) 804-6299; www.multiactive.com.