Who's Making the Net Work? (1,273 words)
by Jack Schmid
My first formal introduction to Marks & Spencer, England's giant retailer, was to fly to London to have lunch with the chairman. M&S was considering expanding its direct selling efforts into an expansion of its home catalog and into an apparel catalog. The chairman asked all the preliminary questions about our company's credentials and why M&S should employ an American catalog consultant. Apparently those questions were answered to his satisfaction, and he then asked the big question: "Why should M&S be in catalo-ging, anyway?"
My answer had little to do directly with cataloging, but a lot to do with the topic of this article. I responded, "If the Internet and selling on the Web is at all in the future plans of Marks & Spencer, catalogs will get you a good part of the way."
The moral of this story is that cataloging and the Internet are, for the intermediate future, irrevocably connected. The linkage is obvious. If planned correctly, catalog photography can be used online, the catalog can emphasize the e-catalog, the e-catalog can be used for intermediate communications with customers and so on. For business, consumer and retail catalogs, the Internet must be part of the marketing mix. Business-to-business Internet selling is maturing quite nicely, but consumer and retail-oriented catalogs need to "get with it."
Let us look at some key statistics recently published about the Internet. A terrific report recently produced by Gruppo, Levey & Co. indicates that:
1. On profitability:
• 43 percent of those responding report profitable Web sites.
• 25 percent expect their Web site to be profitable this year.
2. The Web is evolving into a distinct direct marketing channel and those companies that use direct marketing practices will improve their likelihood of success on the Web.