Can Database Marketing Work for Catalogers? (1,457 words)
Sales are to Web surfers. Most catalogers find that their sales are coming from the catalog, not from people who come to them from a Web search. Catalogers report that the catalog produces more than 90 percent of their Web sales.
Why are Web sales so disappointing? There seem to be several reasons: Web search for products is slow. Flipping through a catalog is easy. You can find what you want and order it. You can't flip through a Web site. To find a cardigan sweater in Appleseed's catalog takes about 45 seconds. To find the same sweater from scratch in the Appleseed's Web site takes three minutes. To find the sweater on the Web site, using the catalog number takes about one minute.
Out-of-stock is seldom accurate. When you call a telemarketer, her software tells her and she tells you that the item you want is out of stock. Web sites seldom do. As a result, you place the Web order and find out by e-mail in a few days that they are out of stock. After a few experiences like this, you stick with a live operator.
So what can we conclude?
u Database marketing can work for catalogers using the Web, but only if the Web site is as good as what the telemarketer sees on her screen.
What is required is to be able to provide information on whether the item is in stock, or not, to make suggestions on sizes and colors, or additional products to go with those purchased. A good agent does this, and is rewarded for it. Catalogers have to find ways to do the same thing on the Web, just as Amazon does.
u Web personalization is very inexpensive, but very effective in building loyalty and cross sales. The Web sites for American Airlines, Amazon and The Wall Street Journal remember your name, address and credit card number. They can greet you by name. Catalogers should do the same.