Q&A: Redcats on Web Marketing and the Importance of Unique Product Design
Continuing last week’s look at challenges facing catalogers in the new year, Catalog Success spoke with Eric Faintreny, chairman/CEO at multititle cataloger Redcats USA, which mails the apparel catalogs Chadwick’s and Jessica London, outdoor sporting goods catalog The Sportsman’s Guide and home furnishings catalog Brylane home. Among Faintreny’s goals for the coming year are expanding a successfully tested Web site, doubling his product design staff and cutting inventory turn.
Catalog Success: How’s the catalog marketing economic climate shaping up for 2007?
Eric Faintreny: For apparel retail in particular, 2006 didn’t end very well. I suspect we’ll have more of the same in 2007. It’s an unpredictable environment, especially for catalogers, given the upcoming postal rate increase. We had the big increase in 2006, and with another one coming so quickly, it puts a lot of pressure on us to achieve sales growth without increasing prospecting.
Catalog Success: How will your overall mailing plans change this year, if at all?
EF: Clearly, we’re getting tighter and tighter on circulation. Last year we had also some paper price increases, and although that’s likely to be a bit more stable this year, generally we’ll reduce circulation. It will vary from title to title. Some titles are doing extremely well, and for those we’ll increase circulation. But overall we’ll move money from paper catalogs to the Internet.
Catalog Success: What new marketing initiatives, if any, are you planning this year?
EF: We don’t have any major new initiatives, because we’re going to keep on building what we started last year. Late last year we launched a master site, OneStopPlus.com, for some of our brands. It’s really a shopping mall on the Internet for the plus-sized market.
Catalog Success: How has that performed so far?
EF: So far, with minimal investment, it’s performing very well. We launched it just before the holidays, but we didn’t support it with all of the marketing firepower we were capable of. We’ll increase our marketing efforts on that project progressively throughout 2007.
Catalog Success: How do you plan on supporting it this year?
EF: We’ll start by doing normal e-marketing. We’ll optimize it for search and push more through paid search, as well as through our affiliate marketing channels.
Catalog Success: How will your implementation of multichannel marketing strategies change this year?
EF: We aren’t changing it, but we are maturing it. For us, it’s in-depth changes throughout the organization; we’re strengthening the organization by putting in place people with greater experience. We did launch a new Web platform in 2006, which by the end of the first quarter of this year will be rolled out to all of our sites. We’ll keep on developing that and bring in more talent for our Internet marketing efforts.
Catalog Success: What challenges do you face as a multititle cataloger in the coming year?
EF: Wth the overall retail environment in the United States becoming more competitive, each of our brands’ identities needs to be unique with more unique products. It’s really about product design and sourcing, when you’re talking about being competitive on a national front.
Catalog Success: In which ways are you developing more unique products?
EF: It’s a combination of increasing our internal design abilities and effectively sourcing the manufacture of those designs.
Catalog Success: Have you increased the size of your design staff internally?
EF: Yes. We doubled our design staff in 2006, and we’ll likely double it again in 2007.
Catalog Success: Are there actions catalogers should take this year as a result of the economic unpredictability you previously mentioned?
EF: I can’t speak for all catalogers, but as an apparel merchant, the unpredictability pushes us to be shorter in our lead times and shorter in our stock coverage to accelerate product rotation. That’s the first move I’d recommend. Secondly, at the industry level, we need to talk more with the government and the USPS to make them realize they’re damaging the industry with these increases. And there are lots of jobs at stake.