Alicia Orr

Alicia Orr
Meeting Today’s Challenges

Charlie Silver has been in the direct marketing and catalog industries for his entire career. But his education was in accounting and finance. His first job upon graduating from Rutgers University in the 1970s was as a budget accountant at Scholastic magazine. “I liked the analysis part of my job more than the accounting,” Silver recalls of his days at Western Publishing. When Western moved in 1978, Silver took a post at Berkey Photo as a senior financial analyst. Later, he was promoted to marketing manager. “I liked the marketing. It was exciting to me to come up with new ideas and see them

The Complexities of Shipping & Handling Fees

Flip to the order form of any catalog or go to the checkout of a cataloger’s Web site, and you’ll find one truth: There’s no standard for shipping and handling (S&H) fees. What a catalog charges to ship product depends on many factors, such as type of product (soft goods or hard goods) or the shipping method chosen by the customer. Others are less-than-obvious and depend on how the cataloger chooses to account for S&H in its operations. These variables make S&H a widely debated topic. According to F. Curtis Barry & Co., an operations consulting firm, about half of catalogers charge

From Holsteins to Hogs

When Doug Hershey graduated from Penn State with a degree in Dairy Science, a career with cows seemed the logical path. A native of Lancaster, PA, and grandson of a dairy farmer, Hershey’s first job was with the Pennsylvania Holstein Association. “I solicited new members, promoted the association and created ads to help members promote their cattle to farmers.” During the four years he worked at the association, Hershey started dating Jill Dorminy (they later married). Through Jill’s church, Hershey met a man named Donny Beaver. About that time, Beaver and Ben Stapelfeld (current chairman of New Pig) bought an industrial cleaning company.

Challenges of Multichannel Fulfillment

Richard Eaton, vice president, fulfillment services of Highlights for Children, and Tom Kirkham, senior consultant for ESYNC International, spoke to Catalog Success a few weeks before Highlights planned to go live with a new warehouse management system (WMS). Like many catalogers, Highlights for Children’s product-fulfillment operation contends with several distribution channels and myriad product types. Highlights’ in-house distribution center handles fulfillment for three divisions: - Highlights Catalog, a traditional children’s products catalog; - Highlights Jigsaw, an educational toy and book supplier offering products through home parties similar to the Tupperware model; and - a third division that sells business-to-business (b-to-b)

System Solutions: A Best-of-Breed Strategy

A generation ago if you wanted to automate a catalog business you had two choices. You could buy a catalog management system that supported all operations in the call center and the warehouse, from order entry through fulfillment and customer database management. Or you could build such a system yourself. Indeed, nearly all the “packaged” solutions started out as in-house systems that were put onto the market to recoup the catalog company’s investment. The systems landscape for catalog marketers looks very different today. Not only is the Internet an increasingly important sales and marketing channel that must be incorporated into your enterprise systems

Gifts from the Florida Sunshine

One night in 1950, a truckload of grapefruit was late in arriving at Ed Cushman’s tiny fruit packing business in West Palm Beach, FL. Cushman was there supervising as the grower’s truck was being unloaded. As the last 20 bushels came off the truck, Cushman asked the workers, “What the devil is this? These aren’t grapefruit!” Said the driver, “I don’t know. I just deliver what they give me.” Turns out this particular grower had a few trees of Mineola tangelos, and they almost looked like orange bells. “My dad came up with the name ‘HoneyBell’,” says Allen Cushman, now president of

After the Rain, Sun

IN THE DAYS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the TRAGEDY of Sept. 11, 2001, the horrific event and what it was going to mean for our nation was all anyone could think about. Television networks covered the news of the terrorist attacks 24 hours a day, pre-empting all normal programming. Family, friends and co-workers talked constantly of what had happened to try to make some sense of it all and share their collective sense of loss. By the first weekend after the attacks, I couldn’t take any more of the sad and scary news. So I decided to turn off the TV and get out

Spiegel Takes Fashion Forward

Melissa Payner is a risk-taker. The 43-year-old retail industry veteran has been president and CEO of Spiegel Catalog for only 10 months and already has turned the place on its head with new merchandising, catalog creative, advertising and promotions. It doesn’t matter that the economy remains in a slump and catalog industry sales are down: Payner is excited to be breathing new life into Spiegel Catalog by refocusing on its customers and strengthening its brand image. There’s no arguing that Spiegel needed a change when Payner took the reins. Looking back five or six years, one might describe the catalog’s branding as

So Who’s Laughing Now?

Funny isn’t it that only a short time ago some people were telling jokes about print media such as catalogs, direct mail, magazines and newspapers. Many said these forms of communication would be dead as dinosaurs in a few years, thanks to the advent of the Internet as a marketing channel. Some even abandoned their long-time work in the print media industries in search of more glamorous jobs out in the great World Wide Web. But look inside your mailbox today and, lo and behold, you may find a catalog or brochure from one of the leading online marketers. Those who laughed at

Adding a Little Fat to the Bottom Line

At the conclusion of my most recent hotel stay, I nearly went into sticker shock when I got my bill. Not only was the nightly rate exorbitant for a plain old room in the major hotel chain (my colleagues and I chose it solely for its proximity to the town’s convention center), there were numerous add-on charges that made the total fee downright outrageous. “For that much,” I thought to myself, “I should have been slathered in luxury, not given teeny bars of soap and small, scratchy bath towels.” On top of the base room rate were sales taxes, city taxes, occupancy taxes, business

Hershey Direct: Staging a Sweet Holiday

As with holiday gift shopping, the best way to ensure a happy holiday season for your catalog operation is to do as much as you can ahead of time—from planning and production to picking, packing ... and even loading the trucks. For Hershey Direct, the catalog arm of Hershey’s Chocolate World, a division of Hershey Foods, the Christmas holiday is by far its busiest season, drawing a whopping 85 percent of the division’s sales activity. (The second and third busiest seasons are the spring catalog, which mails in time for Mother’s Day, followed by the Valentine’s Day catalog.) Ramping up for the big rush

Lillian Vernon: Merchandising Maven

Lillian Vernon began selling personalized belts and handbags with a black and white ad 50 years ago. Now, the company offers more than 6,000 items through nine catalog titles and a growing Web business What do Katie Couric, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton all have in common? It’s not their political affiliations. Think porcelain Easter baskets and personalized bean bag chairs. Now you get the picture: These celebrities are among the 23 million people who have shopped the pages of Lillian Vernon’s catalogs. The namesake business Lillian Vernon launched in 1951 on the kitchen table of her small, Mount Vernon, NY, apartment has

Top brokers describe today’s challenging catalog list market

Finding fresh sources of names to mail has always challenged catalogers. Lately, it’s become more competitive as catalogs all seem to mail into a finite universe of buyers. But catalog list brokers say they’re having some success helping their clients break new ground using tools from non-catalog compiled lists and publication files. Not only is the Internet a research tool for mailers and brokers, but it also is a developing source of new names. Read on for insights into the state of the catalog list market from five list professionals: • Steve Mickolajczyk, president, Brokerage Division, Catalyst Direct Marketing; • Donna

Great Customer Service Starts with Great CSRs

In today’s highly competitive catalog arena, service has become a make-or-break proposition for many companies—not a nicety. To stay in the game, it’s imperative that catalogers provide real service to their customers, not just lip service. “Service should benefit the customer, not just be a marketing tactic for the company,” says telemarketing consultant Liz Kislik, of Liz Kislik Associates. “Failing to meet this need by providing inadequately trained and/or non-service oriented [customer service] reps will guarantee failure,” adds Frank Fuhrman, director of sales, customer contact services, for DialAmerica Marketing, a telemarketing firm in Mahwah, NJ. The firm works with catalogers in the giftware,

Catalog Profile: Austad’s

When Mammoth Sports Group purchased the Austad’s golf catalog from Hanover Direct this past October, it became “a new company under new ownership with a new mission,” says Kent Arett, president of Mammoth Sports Group located in Jessup, MD. “We knew there was a lot of potential there that was not being tapped. This was an underperforming business. That was the whole reason we bought it [Austad’s],” Arett explains. Under terms of the agreement, Mammoth Sports Group, which also owns several Mammoth Golf superstores and an e-commerce site, purchased Austad’s complete inventory, customer base and historical artwork with plans to quickly ramp up the