Well into the second decade of the Internet, many of you reading this — if not all of you — have a pretty good recollection of the “Wild Wild West” days of the Internet early on. It actually still is the Wild West, but in a much different way. And, having sat in on a number of sessions at the e-Tail conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, I noticed the breadth of knowledge that’s permeated the catalog/multichannel community and helped give it an entirely different character than it had 10 years ago.
For one, consider how the language has changed. In the mid-’90s, I recall it taking me months to understand what “Internet,” “World Wide Web” and even “online” all meant. At one point, I thought the whole thing was “America Online,” because early on, I used AOL to dial up and get online — whatever getting online really was.
Today, I think even my mother gets it (although she still can’t seem to figure out the cut-and-paste concept — drives me crazy). As for you, as a catalog merchant, understanding the pulse of the Internet goes hand in hand with doing your job today. Just about everything you do has to take the Internet into consideration.
At conferences like e-Tail, Shop.org and countless others that focus on all things online, attendees and speakers are no longer a bunch of computer geeks. They’re “ordinary” direct marketers who’ve graduated 10-plus years worth of on-the-job Internet training.
Combined Catalog/Online Department
Earlier this month, we posted a poll question asking whether catalogers have separate e-commerce and print catalog marketing divisions or if they’re both run in the same department. We got a breakdown of 65 percent running them together and 35 percent separate. (Speaking of which, I hope everyone reading this takes part in the poll questions we run on the top-right corner of our Web site. If you don’t, please bookmark this page and skip over there now and place your anonymous vote. It’s quick and painless, I promise.)