Case Study: E-commerce Blooms at Bloomingdale’s By Mail
Problem: Bloomingdale’s By Mail catalog didn’t have an e-commerce counterpart in 2002.
Solution: The company put its print catalogs online and improved e-mail marketing efforts a year later.
Results: Business increased fourfold in one year, and Bloomingdale’s online sales channel has grown to more than 20 percent of its overall business.
In early 2002, Bloomingdale’s executives realized they needed to expand their e-commerce capabilities.
“At the time, the company’s site merely was a store marketing Web site,” explains Charlie Silver, vice president of marketing at Bloomingdale’s By Mail. The company initially set up a catalog quick-order function on its Web site. The only available online shopping option, this feature allowed customers to enter a SKU and a source code (retrieved from the print catalog) to purchase a product.
But Bloomingdale’s soon discovered that the quick-order feature didn’t generate much revenue, and it didn’t satisfy the merchant’s need for a low-cost shopping channel that would offer more options to customers.
So in late 2002, Bloomingdale’s contracted CrossMedia Services, a Chicago-based provider of online catalog promotional services, to add virtual catalogs to its Web site. “The virtual catalogs enabled more options for customers and generated up to $500,000 in demand, versus $700 using just the catalog quick-order form,” says Silver.
CrossMedia also organized Bloomingdale’s Web site by item and category so customers could have a traditional way of shopping, says Silver.
Moreover, business increased fourfold in one year.
E-mail Marketing Efforts
The addition of virtual catalogs wasn’t the only factor in rising sales. The company’s e-mail marketing efforts played a definitive role, too.
Before Bloomingdale’s posted its catalogs online, its e-mail marketing efforts primarily consisted of monthly item promotions or catalog notifications sent to its housefile. Soon after it posted catalogs online, it increased e-mail marketing campaigns. They began with a bimonthly e-mail in the first quarter of the year, followed by a weekly or biweekly e-mail in the second and third quarters.