Principles of Catalog Shopping for Retailers, Part 1 of 2
The only way around this common roadblock is if top management is knowledgeable in all channels available and committed to providing buying opportunities in the manner that best suits customers. This single issue is the largest stumbling block to retailers successfully optimizing their multichannel opportunities.
3. Start with the data and a unified database. For most retailers, the point of sale (POS) system is where customer names and addresses are collected and transactions are credited to individuals’ sales histories. The best way to assure proper data collection is to have an easy-to-use customer loyalty program that automatically tracks points and gives small but meaningful discounts when customers meet sales thresholds. Check out the West Advantage program at West Marine to see a well-structured program. (Go to www.westmarine.com, then click on “West Advantage Program.”) The goal should be to track about 80 percent of store sales data.
Another method of aggregating sales history is to use an address append program after the sale. But it’s still best to attribute the information at the time of sale using the POS system. Whatever method of collection you use, Internet, store and overall sales data should all flow into a common customer database. Access to such aggregated data is essential for selecting which customers to send catalogs.
4. Consider the value of different media in a contact plan. Of the media opportunities available to retailers, catalogs usually garner the highest response, but also the highest cost per contact. Because they’re so effective, catalogs comprise the principal store advertising expenditure for many of the country’s most successful multichannel sellers.
Williams-Sonoma, Victoria’s Secret, Cabela’s and Brookstone are examples of companies with effective store-driving catalog programs. They also gain significant catalog sales through their phone and online order-taking systems. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that The Sharper Image failed when it reduced store-area catalog mailings.