At Lett Direct, we sometimes conduct studies to determine how quickly companies fulfill catalog requests (i.e., inquiries).
While some catalogers do a great job turning around requests, many don’t. Unsolicited (and solicited) catalog requests can be extremely valuable, and a high percentage convert into buyers. Therefore, inquiry fulfillment needs to be monitored more closely and given a higher priority. This month, I’ll discuss the importance of inquiry fulfillment and provide results of a recent study we conducted.
Unsolicited catalog requests come from many sources. We don’t always know their origins, but we do know inquiries are “diamonds in the rough.” If someone takes the time to request your catalog, chances are he or she is very interested in your products. What’s more, you can re-mail the inquiries — those that do not convert right away — two, three or more times with success. The point is, they’re very qualified prospects.
How fast should you fulfill inquiries? There’s a direct relationship between the number of days it takes you to fulfill a request for a catalog and the conversion rate. It’s best to fulfill the initial catalog request in 24 to 48 hours.
Some catalogers hold inquiries until they have enough to send via Standard A mail. This is a big mistake. Inquiries need to be fulfilled daily. Again, the faster you fulfill catalog requests, the higher your conversion rate will be.
A Study of Catalog Requests
We recently completed a catalog-request study to determine how long it takes catalog companies to fulfill inquiries. We called 19 companies earlier this year. As of March 3, we’d received 15 catalogs. In other words, about 21 percent of the catalogs we requested never came. (This report is consistent with a similar study we did about a year ago.)
Of the 15 catalogs we got, it took from three days (best performance) to 43 days (worst performance) for the catalogs to arrive in-home. On average, it took 15.2 days to get the catalogs we requested.