The Mark Group - Branded Online (2,303 words)
By Alicia Orr
With all of the excitement of the Internet in the past few years, some catalogers have forgotten the most basic rule of direct marketing; that it must first focus on providing customer satisfaction. One company that has not forgotten this is The Mark Group, the Boca Raton, FL-based company that publishes the Boston Proper, Charles Keath and Mark, Fore & Strike catalogs. As company CEO Michael Tiernan projected a year and a half ago: "As e-commerce evolves... ultimately success is not dependent on Web traffic, click-through rates or market capitalization, but on earning customer trust on every single transaction."
Today, a top goal for Tiernan and his management team is to create a pleasurable and seamless customer shopping experience on the Web.
The Mark Group believes in the future of the Internet and has big Web plans for the future. Currently, Boston Proper generates more than 15 percent of its total sales via the Web. "We project that more than 45 percent of our business will be conducted over the Internet within three to four years," says Seth Miller, chief operating officer. "Our whole business strategy is to serve the large baby boomer demographic and make shopping effortless and convenient for our customers. We saw that the baby boomers were adapting quickly to technology. Through the Web, we felt that there was an opportunity to reduce mailings and phone orders and that some of our customers might even favor the Web."
A "Toe in the Water" Test
When it was time to test the Web waters, The Mark Group took what it terms a "toe in the water" approach. "We believed that the Boston Proper customer was our most likely customer for the Web, due to its demographics," says Miller. "So, we opted not to start with the Boston Proper Web site, and instead, learn in a lower volume environment with Mark, Fore & Strike [a customer with a bit older demographic, Baby Boomer/New Senior, than that of Boston Proper]."