Can Database Marketing Work for Catalogers? (1,457 words)
By Arthur Middleton Hughes
Despite the downturn in the stock market, catalogs today are flourishing and have become the most successful direct marketing vehicles ever invented. Why is this so?
Lightning fast fulfillment. Remember "allow six to eight weeks for delivery?" Who can stay in business today saying that? Many catalogers today even offer next-day service. That means that they have had to streamline their warehouses, with UPS and FedEx trucks constantly backed up to their doors.
Massive exchange of names. North America is about the only place in the world where you can rent names of mail order buyers. Almost everywhere else, marketers hold customer names in an Al Gore "lock box." My wife, Helena, is an avid catalog shopper. She gets from eight to 10 catalogs a day, all year long. She loves them, reading every page of every book as if they were novels. As soon as she places an order, the cataloger immediately rents her name out to 50 or 60 other competitors who rush to fill our mailbox. Without this universal name exchange, the catalog industry would soon die.
Universally available credit cards. Not only do all catalogers depend on them, all consumers have them. Practically every American family receives at least two credit card solicitations per week. What does this mean for the catalogers? Financial success! The problem of getting paid for products has almost disappeared.
Sophisticated telesales. Today's call center software is one of the most complex aspects of cataloging. Millions of agents staff centers on a 24/7 basis. The call center software recognizes previous customers using Caller ID, and calls their purchase history up on the screen, before the call is answered. The computer terminal screens enable the agent to find any product immediately, so that she can immediately begin to discuss colors, sizes and prices effortlessly. If the caller is a previous customer, the agent doesn't have to get the name and address a second time.