Gabrielle Mosquera

Gabrielle Mosquera
Lamps Plus Gives Customers a Searchlight, Online and Off

Like so many of his cataloging colleagues, Dennis Swanson, president and owner of multichannel merchant Lamps Plus, originally thought his company’s Web site would serve customers only as an information portal. With 44 retail stores, Swanson figured customers would browse for lighting products online, but then buy them in his stores. Yet buy online they did. Still, Swanson suspected that the number of online orders would increase if customers could more easily navigate through his site’s 4,000 SKUs. The clincher came when he put a group of in-store sales reps online to offer live customer help. Sales doubled after a month. He

New and Noteworthy Options for Catalog Papers

Increased postal rates, demand for more environmentally friendly paper and a tough economic forecast are just a few factors spurring paper companies to release new stock options for catalogers. As you look toward your next paper contract period, keep in mind a few of the following choices. --- Glare Guard; Expanded Weight Range Sappi recently introduced two paper lines: • Somerset Satin, a non-gloss finish, has a surface that resembles a matte stock when printing text, but acts like a gloss coated stock when printing four-color photography or illustration. The contrast between the text and illustrated areas gives the appearance of a spot gloss

Mac’s Revs Up Catalog Fulfillment

Problem: It took Mac’s Antique Auto Parts several weeks to fulfill catalog requests. Solution: Implemented QuikPak’s catalog-fulfillment service. Result: Prospects now get catalogs within seven days of their requests. Multi-title niche cataloger Mac’s Antique Auto Parts, a supplier of replacement parts for vintage and classic Ford vehicles, couldn’t seem to deliver catalogs to requesters in less than four weeks. That was before January 2001 when it implemented a new catalog-fulfillment service. Back then, Mac’s mailed its 12 catalog titles using bulk rates through a service located near its Lockport, NY, headquarters. Because each of the catalog titles has a different weight, it took

How to Polish Your Online-upselling Program

One cataloger refers to online upselling as “one of the easiest things you can do to improve your revenue.” That’s not to say that initiating online upselling is a snap. Rather, like many other e-commerce endeavors, online upselling is a balancing act between aggressiveness and subtlety in both offer type and presentation. Because the level of communication between consumer and cataloger is less straightforward than it is with contact center upsells, the risk of alienating consumers while upselling online is greater. But with careful consideration and proper attention to detail, online upselling can become a viable source of revenue and a vital part

UpFront Solutions for Tough Times

Trying times reward the prepared. In this age marked by a down economy and international upheaval, it’s best to be prepared for how a crisis may impact both your customer base and your company’s operations. Two new guides can help catalogers plan for crises. “Contingency Planning for Catalogers During International and Domestic Crises,” a white paper published by The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), outlines possible risk scenarios and offers an issues checklist for each area of a cataloger’s operations. The authors, Fred Anderson, senior financial consultant, AndersonDirect, and Peter Johnson, Ph.D., senior economist at The DMA, advise catalogers to prepare for downside

Case Study: Yankee Candle Customizes in a Flash

Problem: Yankee Candle’s Web site made placing custom orders so difficult that many customers had to call the company to finish the transaction. Solution: Redesign the Web site (above) and install Flash technology. Results: The average sale of customer orders increased by 25 percent. Since 1996, Yankee Candle had generated profits through its Web site’s Custom Candles program, which lets customers choose the fragrance, message and message label for a personalized candle. Its business mainly came from people buying favors for weddings and bridal showers. But the site’s static ordering page presented problems. For example, it prevented customers from viewing all of

Stonewall Kitchen: Ingredients for Success

Since Stonewall Kitchen dropped its first consumer catalog in 1999, the Maine-based specialty foods and kitchen accessories merchant has increased its average order value by 210 percent and its housefile by — brace yourself — 1,275 percent. Meanwhile, clients of its wholesale channel — which provides 50 percent of the company’s overall revenue — include veritable giants of the retail world such as Crate and Barrel, Marshall Field’s and L.L. Bean. Perhaps more impressive is that Stonewall Kitchen manages to maintain a catalog staff totaling only five and an e-commerce staff of three. “Just a matter of hard work,” is how Joan Walsh,

Case Study: TopBulb Beckons with Search Engine Terms

Problem: Boost a B-to-B catalog’s reach Solution: Expand sales into the consumer market using search engine marketing Result: 30 percent of TopBulb’s overall sales now come from the consumer market, from 0 percent four years ago Consumers began finding their way to the Web site soon after its launch in 1999, and they found the site almost exclusively through search engine marketing. Until 1998, Indiana-based Gray Supply Co. produced only a print catalog, selling hard-to-find light bulbs to the b-to-b and medical markets. Though the company’s founders had hired Phil Bonello as president and CEO that year to increase sales, he also saw

Online Sales: The Bright Spot of the 2002 Holiday Season

Though overall sales may have lagged during the 2002 holiday shopping season, a notable increase in online purchases gives catalogers reason to keep their chins (and hopes) up. Consumers spent almost $13.7 billion online during the 2002 holiday-shopping season, marking a more than 24-percent, year-over-year increase from 2001, according to the eSpending Report from The Goldman Sachs Group, Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings. Compounding this is a new survey from The Direct Marketing Association, which found that 78 percent of catalogers increased their holiday Internet sales in 2002, with an average percent increase of 47.3 over the 2001 holiday season. Several catalogers said

Bombay Company Finds an E-mail Match

When Matt Corey joined furniture and accessories merchant Bombay Company as vice president of e-commerce in May 2002, he had his work cut out for him. The company’s existing e-mail program not only was costly, but it lacked Web-based and usability tracking tools. “We needed a program that would grow with us,” says Corey. The company’s combined needs for a source of advice on best e-mail practices, more efficient e-mail campaigns and Web-technology management led it to e-mail solutions provider Silverpop, which offers Dynamic Messaging 3.0 software. The solution enables users who aren’t already familiar with information technology to rapidly

The Debate: Using Recycled Paper in Catalogs

Enough wood to make a 6-foot fence stretching across the United States seven times, or to make copy paper for 18.2 million people. That’s how much the entire catalog industry could save if it used paper composed of just 10-percent postconsumer recycled content, according to experts. A study by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation (the Alliance), a project of Environmental Defense, a nonprofit organization, revealed that despite such potential environmental savings, most catalogers instead print their pages on virgin (non-recycled) paper. Several industry experts largely attribute catalogers’ resistance to using recycled paper to concern about cost and possible decrease in sales. “It’s

Maintaining the Gold Standard

National Geographic’s yellow rectangle is recognized worldwide for its authority and credibility as a source of exploration information. Consequently, the pressure to feature similarly authentic catalog products runs high. But the catalog staff welcomes the challenge. “You have to be willing to follow the process of approval for each item,” says Linda Berkeley, president of National Geographic Enterprises, of which the catalog is a subdivision. “You have to be willing to walk away from items that are inappropriate, even if you think they might make a lot of money.” By featuring only merchandise that can support its tagline, “Products that bring the world

Nine West Guarantees Custom-fit E-mails

Imagine if your monthly e-mail newsletters were as individual as your customers’ buying habits. Shoe retailer Nine West has enjoyed this impressive achievement since 2000. Through a partnership with online relationship marketing company Yesmail, Nine West sends myriad versions of its e-newsletter every month, each tailored around customers’ purchase history, ZIP code and/or buying channel. The efforts have increased both online and offline traffic, note company officials. Always on the lookout to cut postal costs, as well as provide a more interactive shopping experience, Nine West chose Yesmail to provide highly personalized content to its 300,000-member opt-in database. According to Dianne Binford,

Segment your e-mail housefile

Sure, it’s time-consuming. It may double or even triple the time you spend putting together an e-mail campaign. But according to industry experts, the potential sales and conversion benefits of segmenting your e-mail housefile—that is, sending different messages and offers to different segments of your customer file—are well worth the effort. The experts also agree that e-mail housefile segmentation isn’t much different from segmenting your print buyers; it’s just a little more involved. “What you get with e-mail is more behavior-based information,” sums up Reggie Brady, president of consultancy Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions. “The trick is making sense of that information and organizing

Taking a Bite Out of Undeliverables

Niche cataloger Shari’s Berries International guarantees that its chocolate-covered strawberries reach recipients a mere day after they’re dipped—a business plan that puts a heavy emphasis on reliable address data. Indeed, according to Lowell Feil, vice president of operations, until May 2002 his department experienced delivery address problems with about 10 percent of its orders. Though the company’s FedEx shipping system caught nearly all of these during the package-scanning process, catalog call center reps then had to call and re-verify the addresses. This not only strained call center resources, it often resulted in delayed product shipments and ruined customer surprises. Company executives