Magazine Article | April 1, 2002

No Multichannel Size Restriction

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

The National D-Day Museum eased into its multichannel retail strategy with the help of its enterprise retail software.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, April 2002

A retailer doesn't have to have 300 stores and millions of customers to operate a multichannel operation. Sometimes a multichannel retail strategy evolves from small beginnings. This was the case with The National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. The museum opened in June 2000 to celebrate the American spirit, courage, and sacrifice of the men and women who won World War II. It promotes the exploration and expression of these values to future generations through presenting exhibits and serving as a research source. The museum also operates a store that offers its visitors a selection of memorabilia and books totaling 5,000 SKUs (stock keeping units).

Before the store opened, the museum hired Louise Fletcher as museum store manager to head up its completion. Having come from other retail environments, some of which were other museum stores, Fletcher had worked with a retail enterprise software company called Retail Technologies International (Sacramento, CA). The store installed the vendor's Retail Pro software solution because in Fletcher's experience it was easy to train employees to use. Ease of use was important because of the store's small staff. The software also offered features such as e-commerce integration and customer relationship functions that could be used to expand the museum's offerings in the future.

Integrate E-Commerce Into Store Operations
In October 2000, The National D-Day Museum launched the e-commerce portion of its Web site by using RetailPro's E-Commerce Integration (ECI) Solution. Web orders come to the store's POS terminals as an e-mail. "We really appreciate getting the e-mail confirmation each time a customer places an order," Fletcher said. "Then we just go into Retail Pro and fulfill the orders." The orders automatically merge with its general store transactions, thus creating a single transaction and customer database for the retailer. The employees still have to send order confirmation manually back to the customer, but the customer information is stored in the database for future mailings.

"In addition to being a new sales channel, the Web site has been a great advertising tool," Fletcher said. "Customers from out of town come into our museum store and they already know what they want because they saw it on the Web site. They are informed customers and they aren't just browsing; they are ready to buy." Although at this time the Web site offers only about 10% of the store's merchandise, it has served as a search engine or inquiry service for items such as out-of-print books or rare memorabilia. Since the orders come into the store via e-mail, the employees can help their customers directly with searches.

Catalogs Hit Your Customers Where They Live
The National D-Day Museum has hosted 500,000 visitors since it opened in 2000, and the museum store has been able to provide the museum with almost half of the organization's income. With the success of the store and Web site under her belt, Fletcher wanted to see if a product catalog mailing would serve as another viable sales channel for the museum. The museum used the Selective Customer Mailing functions of Retail Pro to establish part of the list it used for the catalog mailing. Retail Pro automatically selected and printed labels based on customer history information specified by the museum. It chose to focus on certain areas of the country and the age demographic it thought would have the most interest. "We sent out about 28,000 catalogs for the first time around Christmas in 2001. It was just a test to see how it would work, and we had an almost 20% return," Fletcher said. "We have always enjoyed a great relationship with our Retail Pro dealer, and we have been very pleased with the software features and functionality of the system. Our multichannel success proves that."