A Chat With January's Profile, Brendan Edgerton, vice president of direct marketing, Crutchfield Co. (Text & Audio)
CS: What's the toughest challenge you've faced in your career in the catalog/multichannel business, and what steps did you take to overcome that challenge?
BE: I think the idea of channel integration, recently called channel conflict, is something that whenever you're at a new company, an evolving company or even an established company, you're going to be dealing with that oscillation of customers between your media types. I can think back to my Crate & Barrel days and the debates we would have about, “why have a catalog?” What is the efficacy of the catalog? Gordon Segal, who I think very highly of, would often challenge me about the way a catalog actually would place a constraint on good retailing, because you could source a beautiful product into the East coast, and the same product into the West coast and not worry about the dye-lot or the color change. But when you have a national catalog that you need to support, there needs to be consistency in your product line from coast to coast. So you're limited in what you can present in print to a national audience as you grow from being a niche retailer to a national presence. There was always that challenge there of, “How can we get the freshest, most relevant product into our stores, and then still support it through that behemoth of catalog production and circulation?” So that was a challenge, but kind of a fun challenge there as well because of the three channels.
Probably one of the bigger hurdles there was being able to defend and present a rationale for mailing books into our retail areas. Prior to me, that was a very undeveloped area at Crate & Barrel, and we were able to get people on board and do some creative testing and some very disciplined analytics around the performance of catalogs in retail store markets. It was probably one of the greater challenges, but also one of the greater successes. Because I know since then, while I was there and after, rolled out a very nice retail support program via the catalogs because they're able to understand its effectiveness.