Curve Your Enthusiasm
The management of catalog businesses large and small depends on order curves. Yet order curves are affected by several different factors — mail delivery, the weather, time of year, etc. — all of which affect delivery times.
This month, I want to touch on the factors that affect these curves, because your actions have the most influence over how soon orders start flowing after the initial mail date and when order levels will peak.
Typically, orders start flowing in seven to 10 days after the initial mail date based on a normal five-day mail distribution pattern. If the initial mail date is Dec. 31, the first week for orders would be Jan. 14. Some orders will start showing up toward the end of the prior week, but Jan. 14, in my example, would mark the first “full” week of order flow and the first week of the revenue/order forecast. Therefore, this is the week you want to start forecasting order volumes.
Co-mailing programs affect the order curve and the postage you pay. Postage predominately is impacted by co-mailing. The order curve is more heavily affected by distribution patterns — east to west or west to east — mail dates, in-home dates, and so forth.
The co-mailing process occurs during the binding/ink-jetting phase of catalog production. The process essentially is the same as selective binding. But instead of combining multiple mailing versions of the same catalog, your printer combines multiple catalog titles into one mailstream. This causes more of the mail to qualify for the carrier route rate, which, in turn, reduces your postage expense and speeds the in-home delivery time of your catalog.
From a cost-savings perspective, co-mailing is a win-win. For example, the piece rate for three-digit presort mail is $392/M, the five-digit rate is $335/M and the carrier route is $249/M. On a list pool size of 2 million, approximately half, or 1 million pieces, would qualify at the carrier route level. Of the remaining 1 million, approximately 40 percent, or 400,000, would qualify at the three-digit level and 600,000 at the five-digit level. The chart above right shows the typical savings based on a pool of 1 million and 2 million.