Case Studies: Data Capture

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Loyalty card data capture program

Qbase combines complex data streams to securely deliver loyalty card details to Staples retail

Protecting Data

As companies must adhere to the ever-tightening rules of Privacy Regulations, which exist to protect data, it can seem increasingly tricky for them to view (non-EU) offshore data capture as a viable option.

However, as the benefits outweigh the difficulties, more and more companies are beginning to embrace the offshore course of action, but there is still a need for marketers to gain a greater understanding of the process to decide if it will work for them.

Data management bureau

Qbase, provides offshore data capture services for stationery chain-store giant Staples. Working within the strict European Privacy Regulations & very tight deadlines to scan, capture, validate and format Staples' loyalty card registrations, database consultant Richard Payne-Gill, discusses the intricate process in which it must be carried out.

"The main reason for capturing data offshore is the clear cost benefit. When considering the amount of time that is needed to process thousands of customers' contact details, outsourcing this to another country can be very cost effective.

However, there are also considerations to be made, mainly complying with the European Privacy Regulations in place and ensuring that the security of important customer data is not compromised.

Qbase has provided data capture services for Staples' loyalty scheme registrations for 18 months. 95 per cent of the registrations come from hand written forms at the point of sale in store with the remaining enrolments originating from website entries, fax or post. Therefore, it is the large volume of hand written information in particular, which requires a journey offshore to be captured.

The European Commission sets out regulations which ensure adequate safeguards are provided for personal data transferred from the EU, to countries outside the Union . This protection for the data must be considered when transferring it or allowing access to the information from another source.

Working within these Privacy Regulations, from the date of delivery of the forms from Staples, there is a seven day data scanning, capturing and cleaning timescale which processes the data before delivering it back. As well as the cost benefits, the offshore process we adopt makes it is possible to work to such short deadlines. There is a huge amount of information to capture and it is quicker and cheaper to do this from India.

The hand written forms are scanned in Scotland, which is then outsourced for capture in Bangalore . The resulting captured information from Bangalore is cleaned, formatted, validated and quality checked by Qbase in the UK , before it reaches its final destination where it is returned to Staples for fulfilment.

Sending large data

Sending the large quantities of data offshore for capture, is only possible because once the forms have been scanned, they are held within the secure Qbase network and this information never leaves until it is uploaded into the Staples server at its final destination. The data entry staff in Bangalore cannot download any of the Staples customer data, they can only view an individual scanned registration and a data entry form on-line, so there is no question of any confidential customer data being cloned or accessed in any un-authorised manner.

This does, however, mean that the Indian data capture bureau requires access to the scanned data externally and also a function to upload the captured information. For this to be achieved, we built a specially designed data capture website which can be accessed offshore.


The main benefit of carrying out the data capture process from our own server is that we maintain control which is usually a problem with outsourcing. Because the data doesn't leave Qbase's infrastructure, this means that both the security is maximized and also the data protection issues within the European Privacy Regulations are satisfied. It also means that we can produce real-time HTML reports to show the client the status of the data capture process and individually inspect specific records as part of the Quality Control process.

The other unique benefit of this system is that the data is keyed directly into a live Microsoft SQL database which can then be used to update Staples' main database. This reduces the need for transferring data across suppliers and systems and in turn, reduces the risk to the data which is heightened when data is moved from one environment to another.