Reported Donna Loyle

Reported Donna Loyle
Operations: Put an End to the Blame Game

If your catalog’s back-end operations are suffering from the”blame game” -- that is, contact center and distribution center (DC) reps have gotten into the nasty habit of pointing fingers at one another when problems arise -- try this team-building tactic offered by Liz Kislik, president of Liz Kislik Associates, a management consulting firm: At least once a year, bring your contact center reps to your DC and have them actually work there for a day, picking orders, packing boxes, etc. “This helps minimize the ‘they’ scenario. When reps are talking to customers about fulfillment problems, it helps the reps to understand the difficulties encountered

Insert Media: A Miniature Resurgence

Like other insert media programs, such as package stuffers and blow-ins, miniature catalogs have been around a long time. But in recent times, their popularity among catalogers appears to be on the rise. Catalogers as diverse in nature as nursing mother products marketer Motherwear International and B-to-B uniforms mailer UniFirst Corp. have been successful marketing through mini-format catalogs. What’s more, multi-title apparel and food cataloger Crosstown Traders plans to test its first miniature later this year. Defined primarily as having no more than 24 pages at various dimensions, miniatures can be a more efficient way to get your product offerings in front of

Customer Retention: Five Ways to Woo ‘Em Back

It takes only one negative event to lose a customer, says Bob Thompson, founder of In fact, a study found that 83 percent of respondents said they stopped using a company’s products or services of a company based on one unpleasant experience. Following are five strategies you can employ to retain the right customers for your business and win back those who are about to defect. They were offered in Thompson’s new white paper, “The Loyalty Connection: Secrets to Customer Retention and Increased Profits,” published by RightNow Technologies. 1. Identify potential defectors. Monitor customer activity, and pinpoint those who have become infrequent

Tech Talk Fulfillment & Operations

Compiled by Donna Loyle Increase DC Capacity A recirculating row pusher is one of several new options available on the A-780 case palletizer from FKI Logistex. This feature improves case flow and allows higher palletizing capacities with rates up to 45 case-feet per minute. Another new feature, a high-speed hoist, enables increased capacity and noise reduction, note FKI Logistex officials. And the new system is RFID-enabled, which allows distribution center personnel to track inventory more easily. For more, visit: Create Cushioning Material Your packers can create air pillows at a rate of 20 feet per minute with the new AIRPlus

Creative: Do’s and Don’ts for Great Catalog Creative

If your goal is to produce high-quality, response-generating catalog creative -- and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that as an ideal goal -- here are a few do’s and don’ts. Don’t get caught up in the “concept of pretty.” Having an aesthetically pleasing catalog is great, but your creative staff’s real mission is to get your company’s message across clearly and quickly, says Sarah Fletcher, creative director of Catalog Design Studios, a Providence, R.I.-based catalog design agency, and an industry speaker. “A clear message trumps pretty in a big way,” says Fletcher. “The objective of the catalog design exercise is not to produce art,

Affiliate Marketing: Give Explicit Instructions to Affiliate Marketers

Do you know where all of your online affiliate ads are being posted? Seriously, every single one of them? “Senators are beginning to wonder if marketers know where all of their online ads appear,” noted Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at The Direct Marketing Association, during his talk at the Catalog-on-the-Road Conference in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb. 1. Cerasale said one car maker found its ads posted on a pornography Web site. “It’s your brand,” he told the roomful of direct marketers. “If you lose customers’ trust in this way, it’s awfully tough to get it back.” He advised merchants to establish parameters with

Database: Schmooze the Movers

Customers who cared enough about your company to actually notify you of their changes of address should be handled with extra special care, said Bill LaPierre, vice president of catalog brokerage at Millard Group, during his talk “What Were They Thinking?” held at the Catalog-on-the-Road Conference in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb. 1. “Don’t treat them like they’re new customers or like catalog requests,” LaPierre said, speaking from his own experience. He moved last year, and recorded how catalogers whom he had notified with his new address handled this new information. Some sent catalogs with messages welcoming him as a new customer, “even though I had been

A Burdensome Plan

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSTA), in the planning stages for many years, finally went into effect on Oct. 1, 2005. So far, it’s a voluntary program in which remote sellers collect state and local sales taxes and remit them to the jurisdictions in which their buyers reside. As you know, merchants currently are required to collect state and local taxes only if they have nexus (a physical presence such as a store or headquarters) in the state. Consumers are expected to pay sales taxes on their online and catalog purchases. Of course, most don’t bother or don’t know it’s required. As

Contact Centers: Eight Ways to Improve Your CSR Recruitment and Hiring Processes, Part 1

Recruiting, interviewing, training and hiring the right customer service reps (CSRs) is a crucial component of your catalog’s success. The Ascent Group, a Kite, Ga.-based management consulting firm specializing in customer service operations and improvement, offers in its white paper”Improving Front-line Recruitment& Hiring” the following tips you may find useful. 1. Hire for attitude; train for technical skills. “Consider potential, not necessarily experience,” note the white paper’s authors. During the interview ask questions that would demonstrate if the candidate is motivated and enthusiastic, and loves to serve others. 2. Match candidate expectations with work reality. “The more a candidate understands the job, the work

Sales Strategies: Online Holiday Sales Tips for 2006

The four Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- aka: “Cyber Mondays 1 to 4” -- were the peak selling days during the 2005 holiday shopping season, according to Performics, a division of DoubleClick Digital Advertising Solutions. No surprise: Cyber Mondays 2 and 3 were particularly strong selling days. This year, there will again be four Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Cyber Monday 4 may be a stronger selling day than it was in 2005, note Performics officials. That’s because Christmas day is, itself, a Monday, and so Cyber Monday 4 (Dec. 18) will fall a full week before the holiday, leaving adequate time for

Branding: Three Strategies to Refresh Your Brand

If you’re thinking about rejuvenating your brand in 2006 and you want to hire outside experts to help with the project, you have the following three choices, according to Marty Neumeier, president of Neutron, a San Francisco-based branding agency, and author of the new book “The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design” (New Riders). 1. Outsource the branding strategy to a one-stop shop that’ll handle work such as advertising, PR, product design, Web design, promotions, events, exhibits, research, packaging and more. Neumeier notes that today’s one-stop shops usually are either multi-disciplinary firms or holding companies comprised of specialist

Cool Ideas

In a world of cynics it’s easy to focus purely on what needs fixing or what’s just plain silly. Yet no doubt you agree that it can be refreshing and heartening to concentrate on the positive things one sees in daily life. Here are a few I encountered in the past few weeks: Gift cards for various merchants sold in supermarkets. A display at my local Super Fresh included gift cards for companies such as Bed Bath & Beyond and The Home Depot. Talk about convenient holiday gift shopping for consumers and an added distribution channel for merchants. To whomever thought of that idea,

How to Hook and Keep Gold Customers

The adage, “80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers,” is as true today as when it was coined many years ago. The real questions are how to identify those prospects and one- and two-time buyers who may have a strong affinity for your merchandise, and then how do you keep them buying? That is, how to turn prospects and one-time buyers into gold customers. Following are some strategies to test, roll out and then measure. If They Look Like Customers … Tactics such as calculating average order value (AOV) and/or lifetime value (LTV); modeling; and segmenting buyers

Contact Centers: Gain Greater Insight Into Customers’ Shopping Experiences

While it’s common for contact center managers to track and monitor each agent’s calls to discern performance levels, tracking and monitoring individual customer calls often gives a merchant insights that can help it improve sales and goodwill. Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a strategy that seeks to answer the question: “Why are our customers acting and reacting in the ways that they are?” “CEM looks at the transactional process from the customers’ point of view from the second they start interacting with the merchant,” either in the contact center or via the Web, says Kristyn Emenecker, product manager of contact center solutions for Mercom Systems,

Marketing Budget: Three Tactics to Help You Better Allocate Marketing Costs

These days, every C-level executive expects efficient use of corporate resources. Gary Hennerberg, direct marketing consultant and author of the new book “Direct Marketing Quantified: The Knowledge is in the Numbers” (published by Target Marketing magazine, a sister publication of Catalog Success), offers these three tips to help you expertly allocate your marketing spend: 1. “If you mail to both your customer file and rented lists, separate the costs by list, so list rental is not charged to customer costs,” writes Hennerberg. 2. Evaluate the performance of small test quantities based on projected rollout costs. Writes Hennerberg, “If you’re testing a quantity of 50,000 and expect