How You Can Help Avert Another Rate Hike Disaster
Just about all catalog merchants in America should have gotten more than their fill of news, comments and opinions on the meaning, impact and consequences of the 2006-2007 postal rate case. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, perhaps you’d be better off finding a new career.
By now, you should’ve learned how to adjust your business marketing practices to accommodate the recent round of horrendous catalog postage increases. If you haven’t, then you’re about to learn some difficult, unforgiving lessons in trying to make a living in a hotly competitive marketplace.
Your focus now must be on the future. Not the future of five to 10 years from today, but the future of what’s likely to happen over the next 12 months.
The Postal Service already has learned a “novel” lesson from this last round of rate increases. The postal chieftains have discovered that the punitive rates assigned to those who mail larger than letter-size (flat) mail pieces has sorely affected flat-mail volume. The volume of flat mail now reportedly is at a level that was last seen immediately after the anthrax crisis.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. PostCom and others warned the Postal Service that double-digit rate increases would have a deleterious effect, so much so that USPS estimates of flat-mail volumes and revenues should have been considered without merit by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
So what does lie ahead for catalogers? Plenty.
New Rate-making Schema
First, catalogers should be keenly aware that the PRC is well into the process of seeking public comments on a new, proposed rate-making schema. Some of your fellow catalog marketing colleagues have stepped up to the challenge and have provided the commission with some excellent comments.
In particular, James West, director of marketing development for multititle housewares cataloger Williams-Sonoma, deserves kudos for his excellent testimony at a recent PRC field hearing. West briefed the commission on the changing nature of catalog/multichannel marketing, how marketers make their decisions regarding media alternatives and the key factors that determine the look and feel of a finished, printed product.