* And among those who made home furnishings purchases, 64 percent bought at retail, 7 percent through catalogs and 9 percent online.
What’s the Appeal Then?
A general lack of interest in shopping direct, heavy shipping duties, expensive postage, weak lists with poor data — those are the key deterrents to Canadian consumers and American catalogers. Nevertheless, I came away from this event with a whole other revelation of sorts: Some U.S. catalogers are taking a closer look into Canada than ever before. Eh?
At least two vendors have worked feverishly to overcome the key sticky points. Abacus established a co-op database in Canada a year and a half ago. The co-op now has 230 participants, mostly from the U.S. Still, “There’s not a whole lot of transactional data,” lamented Casey Carey, Abacus Alliance Solutions’ senior vice president, during his presentation at the conference.
Abacus does have 2.6 million multibuyers in its database. “I think, we have a lot of what there is,” Carey said about available direct response data. “But there’s not a lot there. We’ll continue to build our Canadian data over time, but it’s not going to double next year.”
Even Sears Canada, which is among the largest catalog mailers in Canada, only sends 20 percent to 25 percent of its books to prospects; the rest go to its housefile.
It was brought to my attention by one American cataloger in attendance, however, that the Canadian list market has come a long way. Even though Canadian lists will never approach the size or scope of American lists, there are more direct response names and some more data available than there were in the past.
As for the fulfillment side, since the late 1990s when Border Free was founded to help catalogers ship goods into Canada in a turnkey solution, the company — which is now owned by Canada Post — has aggressively gone after the U.S. catalog market. Border Free president Patrick Bartlett told me that the number of U.S. catalog clients has doubled over the past couple of years to 90.