AS/400 DB to Constant Contact DB

Michael Houser
Michael Houser used Ask the Experts™
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We use constant contact to send out emails to customers. We used to do this via our AS/400. Here is my issue:

We not have and iPad set up on our Retail floor to collect emails from customers. As good as this may be our AS/400 has no way of knowing what emails may have been entered into the iPad info that is going to constant contact.. How can I make this work? I guess that is my question.

Is there a way for our AS/400 DB to query Constant Contact or vise versa?

The way I can envision is the cashier saying "Can i Verify we have our correct email address in our system" : Customer, yes it is aaabbbcc@mail.com, ok thanks. We do have that in our system)

Another way cashier saying "Can i Verify we have our correct email address in our system" : Customer, yes it is aaabbbcc@mail.com, ok thanks. We do not have that in our system can you enter in you info on the iPad so that we can have the correct information. Customer : Yes.)

Customer then enters their email address into the iPad screen the data then appears in realtime on the cashiers screen (AS/400 green screen) Cashier says : Thank you for that information. I now see this information..

Something like this.

Thanks all
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VP Technology / Senior Consultant
Commented:
Short answer is, yes, it is possible - and not that difficult for an experienced developer.

Some development effort is required, and specifics are probably more involved than what we can cover in a forum like this, but you have a lot of alternatives.  Here are a couple:

1) If the iPad app is a custom application, you can modify it to interface to AS/400 POS system.  You can create a batch interface that uploads emails on a scheduled basis, or real-time interface that pushes data up each time a new entry or update is made (typically to a web service running on the AS/400).

The downside of this approach is that it doesn't solve the problem of cashier updates to the email address.

It also requires two different developer skill sets - iPad + AS/400.

2) My preferred solution would be to build an interface to Constant Contact from the AS/400.  Single-platform development - all on the AS/400 - so you don't have to coordinate development efforts between the AS/400 and iPad developers.    

Constant Contact publishes APIs that allow a developer to query an individual user, or to do bulk extracts (for example to update your database with all new and updated subscribers on a scheduled basis), and to add, update, and delete contacts.

A common way to handle this kind of synchronization is to do a regular bulk download that updates the information in your AS/400 database - once an hour, for example.  Then when the customer checks out, the information is presented on the POS display.  If the cashier updates the email address, you'd fire off an immediate update to Constant Contact (or do a bulk upload on a scheduled basis of all changes since the last update).  

If modifying the POS application to allow update of the email address isn't possible or desirable, then you could point the customer to the application or maybe print an address on the receipt so they can update it when they get home.

- Gary Patterson

Check out my EE profile: http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_6156691.html
Michael HouserLan Administrator

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Commented:
Thanks so much.

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