Bind-In Order Forms-What's the Best Strategy? (2,000 words)
By Stephen Lett
Alsto's. The Company Store. Garnet Hill. Martha By Mail. Williamsburg. Pottery Barn. Frontgate. Good Catalog. The Land of Nod. Linen & Lace. Restoration Hardware. Ross-Simons. Sundance. What do these catalogs have in common? They have all eliminated the use of a separate bind-in order form with envelope typically found in the center of a catalog.
These catalog companies employ a lot of smart people, so why would they make the decision to discontinue using a bind-in order form with envelope? What was their thought process? What should you do? This month, we will review the order form in detail and we will consider several points of view on this subject.
While preparing to write this article, we reviewed a total of 150 different catalogs at random. In our survey, which included both business-to-business and consumer catalogs, we found that 43 percent printed the order form on a page (or two) in the catalog instead of using a separate bind-in order form with envelope. Knowing that it is more common to find business-to-business catalogs not using bind-in order forms, we then eliminated these catalogs from our analysis. In so doing, we found that 33 percent, or one out of three, consumer catalogs are now printing the order form on a page in the catalog rather than using a separate bind-in order form. This high of a percentage was a bit of a surprise to us.
The decision to eliminate the use of a separate bind-in order form with envelope should not be taken lightly. Nor should the decision be based solely on saving money. In most cases, that analysis does not go far enough. While it is true today that catalogers receive fewer and fewer orders through the mail, a bind-in order form with envelope serves a useful purpose and several factors should be considered.