Oracle and RightNow both released new CRM packages on Tuesday, with Oracle aiming at streamlining business processes and RightNow including features aimed at increasing sales in its retail-centric software.

RightNow said RightNow Retail combines CRM software with the company's retail expertise, honed from working with outfits such as Drugstore.com, Hallmark.com, The Sharper Image and Snapfish. RightNow Retail is based on RightNow 8, an on-demand system for service, sales and marketing teams.

Oracle's CRM was delivered as part of Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, and focuses on usability, with a simplified user interface and cross-application integration.

The RightNow product uses a service-based delivery model, increasingly popular as a way of cutting initial installation costs and hassles.

It is specifically aimed at increasing retail sales through better use of customer information. For instance, it helps companies to deliver tailored, timed marketing messages to shoppers, something the company said can make a big difference to sales and repeat business, if used judiciously.

It helps consumers find information they need online by themselves, a need voiced by nearly half of the respondents in a RightNow-sponsored survey.

The system allows consumers to register products they own, locate specific product information and move through the purchase process with relevant, context-sensitive information and tailored cross-sell offers at each step. The system is available immediately.

Oracle addresses a much larger user base with its E-Business Suite, and the latest CRM components are designed around usability, planning and data mining.

Sales manager dashboards give users a consolidated analytical view of sales performance, and account planning capabilities take a longer view around maintaining customer relationships, Oracle said.

The user interface has been simplified, and the CRM task flow has been redesigned to let users complete busienss processes such as order creation or tracking without leaving the program.

The E-Business Suite software is integrated with Oracle Contact on Demand, allowing organisations to get into Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). Other tweaks, such as a new XML publisher, are aimed at improving reporting and document output.

Oracle vice president of CRM Strategy Mike Betzer said the latest software is largely about making the software simpler and easier to use.

"For example, a telesales representative can create an order within a CRM sales application without going through the supply chain of the application to create or manage orders, thus providing better operational efficiency," he said in a statement.