Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
No special incentives are given to push business to the Web sites. In fact he think it's plain nonsense for catalogers to offer free shipping or other incentives to spur Web orders. He voices his opinion strongly, noting, "There's no way in the world it's 10 bucks cheaper to ship a Web order." At his company, he says, "A Web order saves us about a buck an order, including the 3 to 4 cents a minute we spend for the phone time, the phone rep's salary and the call-center overhead. I see no rationale behind that [free shipping on Web orders]."
He continues, "We want a customer to pay what's fair, whichever way they order. It's their choice, for their convenience. We'll take the order whether it's on the phone, on the Web or in the mail. We're not artificially trying to sway the customer. Sure, we put the Web address in every single place you see the phone number. But it's to give the customer a choice."
The company also is exploring other ways to use the Internet. Customers placing phone orders are asked for their e-mail addresses. WinterSilks and Venus are experimenting with various forms of e-mail communications to customers. Says Scott, "We may send them ads via e-mail to alert them of new merchandise, such as the new swimsuit we had for Fourth of July. Or if a cold front is coming through, we may send a special WinterSilks offer, or may send holiday notices." But he's quick to note, "Any special that we offer in one medium is honored in all of the others."
Marketing to Two Unique Audiences
While the back-end operations have been completely meshed together, marketing functions for Venus Swimwear and WinterSilks remain totally separate.
This is because of the vastly different audiences each catalog serves. Scott describes the Venus customer as in her upper 20s, fashion-conscious and reasonably fit. The customer base follows logical geographic concentrations—along the coasts, in the South and Great Lakes region.