Enabling 1-to-1 Sales and Service

DataLode is readying software that automates one-to-one communications between companies and retail customers.

DataLode Inc. is readying the second and third legs of its RealConnect marketing automation suite. The company next month will announce its RealConnect Commerce and in December roll out its RealConnect Support modules. Both work with the existing RealConnect Marketing module to provide automated one-to-one communications between companies and their retail customers.

The Commerce module uses information from the Marketing module, gathered when customers register new consumer electronics or computer products, to send targeted sales offers, such as extended warranties, to potential buyers. The module, available now, also can send cross-sell and up-sell offers to a companys current customers, as well as special promotions for products that need to be regularly replenished, such as toner cartridges.

RealConnect Support, due in December, sends downloads of updated drivers, bug fixes and incremental upgrades directly to registered customers. This should be useful to two of DataLodes current customers—Hewlett-Packard Co., which uses RealConnect in some of its printers, and Toshiba, which uses RealConnect to register and track users of some of its computers, according to Gaylyn DeMartini, president and founder of DataLode.

By automating some communications with customers, companies can lower costs, improve message effectiveness and solidify customer loyalty, officials said.

The RealConnect software is installed on a customers laptop PC or other computer or printer upon installation. At this point it can send new customer registration information back to the seller via an Internet connection, a dialup modem, or it can print out a pre-populated form that can be mailed in. It communicates through a non-published port, which officials said makes it impervious to being used for spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Although so far all DataLode customers have embedded the software into their products, the RealConnect software could be posted on a companys Web site as a downloadable app, DeMartini said. This could be useful for companies with loyalty programs that reward customers for repeat business because it tracks individuals for the entire life of their interactions with the company, she added.

"We have an intelligent agent where the consumer says, Im only interested in XYZ." DeMartini said. "Its not like every day youre going to get [an e-mail] message from us; maybe once every six months."

DataLode, of San Rafael, Calif., will release a Web-based client later this month, DeMartini said.

The RealConnect suite runs on Windows, but will be ported to a Unix operating system in December, and available for Palm OS next year.