A Chat With April’s Profile, Tim Burns, brand manager of Edmund Scientific
CS: What role does the Internet play at Edmund Scientific?
TB: It’s key; it’s the primary order channel. We’ve always been ahead of the curve in terms of our customers using the Web as their order channel. Like everybody else, we’ve seen a huge shift in the last five years from the way people order: Via phone or through the mail to using the Web site as the order channel. But having said that, it obviously is really, really important. And we do very well with CPC [cost per click] and search engine marketing and affiliate marketing, but our mail order business has stayed pretty current. Our customers to some degree are still very old school. They like to get that catalog in the mail and fill out their order form and put a stamp on it and send it in. We still get a few thousand orders every year through the mail.
CS: What’s the percentage breakdown of sales by channel?
TB: We’re about 70 percent Web, 25 percent phone and 5 percent mail.
CS: What challenges do you foresee for Edmund Scientific, and the catalog industry as a whole, this year and future years?
TB: I think you have to maintain your niche. So as I said before, we’re still very much a niche business. And it’s science-themed, science-related, innovative, interesting products. We can’t get too far outside of that. There are opportunities to become more of a gadget catalog, there are opportunities to become more focused on things that relate to computer science and the natural sciences, and I try really hard not to get too far away from our brand proposition … which isn’t all that different than it was 50 years ago. It’s about helping people connect science with the world around. Giving them things that make it fun and interesting and allow them to show science isn’t just something they like, but it’s also their hobby.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.