Eckerö Line transforms its online sales and marketing capabilities

Published on 13-May-2013

"In the year since we implemented the WebSphere Commerce solution, the average value of sales per customer has grown by ten percent." - Petri Hannikainen, eCommerce Manager, Eckerö Line

Customer:
Eckerö Line

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
Finland

Solution:
Smarter Commerce

IBM Business Partner:
Igence Oy

Overview

Eckerö Line is one of Finland’s leading cruise operators and tourism companies. The company operates passenger and cargo ferry services between Helsinki and Tallinn, and also sells package tours and holidays. It employs around 250 people and serves approximately 900,000 passengers each year, generating annual revenues of €68 million ($88 million US).

Business need:
Eckerö Line wanted to complement its new cruise line reservation system with an e-commerce platform that would also provide new marketing capabilities.

Solution:
The company worked with Igence Oy, an IBM Business Partner, to integrate the new reservation system with IBM® WebSphere® Commerce.

Benefits:
Makes it easier to define and promote products, encouraging extra sales. Enables better design and execution of marketing campaigns. Supports more targeted marketing with customer segmentation tools.

Case Study

To read a Finnish version of this case study, click here

Eckerö Line is one of Finland’s leading cruise operators and tourism companies. The company operates passenger and cargo ferry services between Helsinki and Tallinn, and also sells package tours and holidays. It employs around 250 people and serves approximately 900,000 passengers each year, generating annual revenues of €68 million ($88 million US).

The Eckerö Group had decided to embark on a major project to consolidate all the reservation systems of its shipping companies into a single IT platform. For Eckerö Line’s sales and marketing teams, this provided both a challenge and an opportunity.

On the one hand, the company’s existing e-commerce system was not compatible with the new reservation system, and would have to be replaced. On the other hand, moving to a new e-commerce system would enable the adoption of a new and more powerful set of marketing tools.

Transforming services into products
Petri Hannikainen, eCommerce Manager at Eckerö Line, explains: “We wanted to change our traditional way of thinking about our reservation system. Instead of waiting for customers to come to our website, we wanted to create an e-commerce platform that would help us actively market and sell our services.”

After evaluating proposals from a number of software vendors, Eckerö Line decided to engage Igence Oy, an IBM Business Partner, to implement IBM WebSphere Commerce, integrate it with the new reservation system, and customize it to meet the company’s specific needs. IBM Management Center for WebSphere Commerce provides a single point of control for Eckerö Line’s e-commerce team to manage online sales, marketing, and the product catalogue.

Productisation increases the value of sales
“WebSphere Commerce is built around the idea of a product catalogue,” explains Petri Hannikainen. “By defining all the services we offer as individual ‘products’, we have gained many advantages: for example, customers can now use keyword searches on our website, which makes it much easier for them to find the kinds of products they are interested in.”

The greater categorization and searchability of the new e-commerce site enable Eckerö Line to highlight special products and packages that customers might not have previously been aware of. For example, opera fans can easily find packages that combine a crossing from Helsinki to Tallinn with tickets to the Estonian National Opera, a hotel room, breakfast, and a return journey the next day.

Better definition of products also helps with cross- and up-selling. Today, when a customer is booking a ferry crossing, they can choose to add cabins, food options and hotel reservations as part of the booking process. This has helped Eckerö Line significantly increase the average value of sales per customer.

Petri Hannikainen comments: “In the year since we implemented the WebSphere Commerce solution, the average value of sales per customer has grown by ten percent.”

Enhanced marketing capabilities
Petri Hannikainen and his team are impressed by the range of marketing tools that the solution offers. “WebSphere Commerce gives us many new capabilities in terms of marketing,” he says. “It enables us to segment our existing customers based on a wide range of factors – for example, their purchasing behaviour, the items they have in their shopping basket, or where they live. It also makes it easy for us to market directly to these different segments with targeted email campaigns.”

Campaign creation and management are simple: Management Center can be used to build sophisticated, multi-stage campaigns, and set the schedule for their distribution. This makes it easier for marketing teams to plan their activities ahead of time.

“We can create a whole summer’s email campaigns in advance and time them to start whenever we want them to,” comments Petri Hannikainen. “The amount of manual work we need to do has decreased, because our employees don’t have to spend time doing the same thing multiple times.”

Moreover, because Management Center provides a single platform for product management and campaign management, it is much easier for Eckerö Line’s sales and marketing teams to work together and co-ordinate their activities.

Delivering commercial benefits
Since implementing IBM WebSphere Commerce and adopting a more product-centric approach to e-commerce, Eckerö Line has seen a significant increase in sales, especially of hotel bookings and food services. By using the WebSphere tools to create more targeted email campaigns, it has also seen greater success in marketing to its existing customers. Furthermore, the company estimates that it has increased web sales by approximately ten percent.

“It is difficult to quantify the benefits in financial terms, but we are sure IBM WebSphere Commerce will deliver a full return on our investment in due course,” says Petri Hannikainen. “We view the solution as a useful investment for the future of our business, and it offers many capabilities that we have not even started using yet – for example, the ability to manage promotions and special offers.”

He concludes: “We appreciate the fact that IBM is continually developing the platform and adding new features, and we will keep a close eye on any new tools that could help us enhance our e-commerce marketing capabilities even further.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
WebSphere Commerce Enterprise

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. Oy IBM Finland Ab, PL 265, 00101 Helsinki. Produced in Finland. May 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and WebSphere are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Igence Oy are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Igence Oy makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.