Cataloger Spotlight: How My Twinn Uses Tiered Pricing to Encourage Early Holiday Doll Shoppers
My Twinn creates personalized, handcrafted dolls that lend themselves to gift-giving. So not surprisingly, the holiday season is its busiest and most lucrative time of the year. The company faces a time crunch, though, because its artisans use customer photos and information submitted by buyers to make doll heads that look like the little girls receiving them.
“We make [the doll heads] one at a time. They’re not pre-ordered or mass-produced,” ex-plains My Twinn Vice President Craig Currie.
So, it’s crucial for My Twinn to get the lion’s share of its holiday season orders early. To encourage customers to order earlier, it offers an incentive — a tiered pricing system that can save early birds up to $30.
Holiday 2006 was the first time My Twinn, a division of Denver-based eToys Direct, incorporated a tiered pricing discount, Currie says. For orders received between Sept. 1 and Oct. 6, the price of a 23-inch custom doll is $129 with delivery within four weeks. Those received by Nov. 6 are $139 and also get delivery within four weeks. For orders received by Nov. 24, customers pay $149 and are guaranteed delivery by Dec. 23. But for orders placed after Dec. 9, customers pay $159 with no guarantee of Christmas arrival.
Previously, My Twinn tried offering free shipping for orders placed by late September, as an incentive to get customers to order as early in the holiday season as possible. But Currie says the 2006 tiered pricing strategy was more successful.
26 Percent Pay-off
The move paid off. Holiday sales for 2006 jumped by 26 percent over holiday 2005.
Spokeswoman for eToys Direct, Sheliah Gilliland, says it’s difficult to measure how many more sales in 2006 could be attributed to the tiered pricing incentive, but both she and Currie believe the numbers are significant enough to try it again in 2007.
The tiered pricing was announced to potential customers via the holiday catalogs, the Web site and e-newsletters. The first holiday catalogs will drop in mid-September and refer to the tiered price savings on the cover, Currie explains. They’ll likely use different verbiage in different catalogs to elicit response. For example, a copy of a 2006 holiday prospect catalog stated customers ordering by Nov. 6 could save $20 and referred them inside to the order form for full details. A 2006 holiday catalog to established customers, however, states, “Order early and save!” and refers buyers to the order form.
“The doll purchases are mostly made by prospects,” Currie says. “So our prospect mailing coordinates with the tiered pricing. We do the vast majority of our prospecting in mid-September.”
The company produces several versions of the holiday catalog with different types of covers for prospective customers “so they understand what the concept is,” Gilliland says.
She adds that the Web site, www.MyTwinn.com, is updated in early September with new products, outfits and accessories. It also outlines the tiered pricing offer to encourage early holiday shoppers.
That’s not to say phone lines and online carts went dormant after the deadline for the final pricing perk. Although tiered pricing boosted early orders, Gilliland and Currie say they were busy right up until late December.
“We were surprised last year by the number of people who waited and paid the $159,” Currie says. “That’s great from a bottom line; people were paying more than they would in September.”
Even with the rush, My Twinn was able to fulfill all the orders.
“We’re the big Christmas gift for most,” Currie notes. “It’s an, ‘Oh wow!’ kind of gift under the tree. You can’t mess up on that.”
Gail Kalinoski is a freelance writer based in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.