Customers Get What They
Already Want"> "That gives the customer more of an opportunity to select something they might need," said Parago CEO Ken Johnsen. Johnsen stresses that what makes his rebate service strong is mostly an intuitive design. The benefit is "having a Web interface that is extremely easy to navigate. Its not just easy, but fast," he said.Best Buy discovered that great technology is of little help if employees dont know about it. To read more, click here.From the IT perspective, the key advantage is a very tight integration between the Web interface and Staples POS (point-of-sale) system. The customer enters the unique product identification code, "and then we automatically pull all the rest of the data from the POS system. Theres no worry about promo numbers, nothing to cut out, nothing to mail. Accuracy will improve as a result. Efficiency will improve," Johnsen said. As soon as the order is received, the Parago system initiates a 13-step validation process, making sure that the rebate is being submitted within the rebates time limits, that its the correct product that qualifies for the rebate, that its in accordance with any limits as to the number of products per household and that there are no records that the product has been returned, among other restrictions. On Staples end, the updates to Parago are not instantaneous and automatic yet, Sherlock said. That means that a customer might make a purchase and rush home to find that the system doesnt yet know of the purchase and can therefore not process the rebate. Holiday online sales are expected to jump 20 percent. To find out why, click here. With purchases from the physical store, Staples sends a file electronically to Parago every couple hours, and they are going to try to get "as close to real-time validation as possible," Sherlock said. Ironically, the updates are much less frequent on the dot-com side and happen only once overnight, he said. When the customer checks out at a physical store, the printed receipt will alert the customer to a rebate opportunity. During an online transaction, though, "its perfectly automated," Johnsen said. "It will flag a rebate, and you can immediately add that to your rebate shopping cart. The rebate process is a separate process." Parago will also be delivering to its retail clients a sophisticated promotion effectiveness analysis so that retailers can use the rebate-process information as a CRM (customer relationship management) mechanism. "What really happens is that more sales are driven as a result of the process," Johnsen said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.