E-Commerce

Case Study: Brooks Brothers on the Cutting Edge
March 1, 2001

Just before I sat down to write this, The New York Times reported the death of yet another beloved—albeit little known—boutique institution, Gorsart Clothes. The downtown Manhattan men’s clothier had served the Wall Street community since 1921. In the words of Times writer Sherri Day, The last straw may have been the advent of casual Fridays—and Thursdays and Wednesdays—which eliminated much of the need for the crisply tailored suit and the power tie. Where Gorsart was unable to change with the times, another great New York men’s clothier, Barney’s, changed too much—only to be taken over by its creditors in 1996. Founded in

E-catalog Model Technology
March 1, 2001

It began on the Lands’ End Web site as a high-tech variant of paper dolls. Now, 3-D models are a popular feature of many online catalogs, including J.C. Penney, Eddie Bauer and The Sharper Image. The 3-D model enables shoppers to configure an electronic, rotating mannequin that resembles themselves. Everything from face shape to waist measurement to hairstyle is changeable. The model is designed to help consumers make apparel decisions by showing how a garment fits, falls and flatters. It also shows how a garment will work with particular hair and eye colors. Most of the sites with online models offer a complementary

Migrating Merchandising from Catalog to Dot-com
January 1, 2001

As successful catalog merchants, you’re using merchandising techniques every day to deal with issues such as “can’t touch it, can’t try it on.” Let’s face it, returns are a hassle. When it comes to selling products online, familiarity with these issues is just one advantage you have over both Internet-only “pure-plays” and store-based, bricks-and-clicks e-tailers. Pure-plays have the formidable task of simultaneously launching and marketing a new brand, sourcing and perhaps stocking product, creating visual assets, implementing technology, handling fulfillment and developing a customer service component (no wonder so many have failed!). Bricks-and-clicks players have their branding and merchant skills in place, but

What’s In Your Catalog’s Future?
December 1, 2000

For the past two decades, I have written and spoken worldwide on the future of the catalog industry. My position has always been to challenge conventional thinking, and I have been right on some things and wrong on others, but hopefully always provocative. My early thoughts on the future of the Internet (1994) and its influence on catalog and direct marketing have been, for the most part, accurate. I predicted the growing importance of e-mail marketing, permission-based databases, proprietary databases and the surety of dynamic pricing as an outgrowth of self-directed, online commerce. In 1997, I was correct in my assessment of

Techniques That Get Your E-mail Opened
November 1, 2000

E-mail marketing is new for many catalogers, and most are now concentrating on growing an in-house e-mail file. Some have started weekly or monthly newsletters that contain specials, and others are sending promotions. While many are becoming comfortable with the process of creating e-mail marketing messages, the competition for customers’ attention is growing. In the near future, it will become important for catalogers to set themselves apart from other e-mail marketers. As with print catalogs, several response-boosting techniques are worth testing in e-mail. Looking for Lists Most catalogers are working with their own housefiles right now. They have e-mail registration on

Great Customer Service Starts with Great CSRs
November 1, 2000

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,

Case Study: Multiple Zones International
October 1, 2000

There’s nothing like having a billionaire for a neighbor. Especially one that throws a little business your way, like Microsoft did when it named Multiple Zones International (MZI) its chief supplier of computer hardware, software and services. The contract is one of many changes taking place at MZI. Since moving online in 1995, MZI has seen fast growth in revenue and transactions, creating a $115-million company. What began in 1989 as a three-title catalog company with PC Zone, Mac Zone and The Learning Zone, has grown into a multi-channel retail operation that includes a new business-to-business division. The new Zones Business Solutions division is

Alternate Media Other Catalogers Use and Why
September 1, 2000

Producing and mailing a catalog can be a most expensive undertaking. With alternate media you can achieve some of the same goals as with a print catalog: Testing, driving customers (new or existing) to your e--commerce site and building awareness/loyalty. Speaking at the Annual Catalog Conference in June, Kevin Kotowski, of Olson Kotowski & Co. in Los Angeles, named some top reasons catalogers use alternate media, or “non-catalog pieces:” 1) cheaper prospecting than with full-sized catalog drops, since most alternate media are cheaper to produce and mail; 2) building and strengthening your customer relationships with name and product awareness; 3)

Technology helps catalogers deliver precise online marketing
September 1, 2000

Marketing online is cataloging in reverse. Instead of mailing to your housefile, you use it to lure prospects to your Web site. Using high-speed automated databases, Web sites can make judgment calls about what products to offer to which consumer and can treat valued customers differently than prospects. That’s because you have a mix of customers who know you and customers who don’t, so changing your Web site to suit each customer is just as important as versioning your catalog or knowing which products will appeal most to a certain consumer. Tailoring the online offer to the shopper increases the chances of purchase.

Creative Cut: Ross-Simons
July 1, 2000

Designers and marketers see both limitations and advantages in Web-site creative. The overarching limitation is a lack of control in the appearance of the end product because of differing technologies on consumers’ computers. On the flip side, Web sites can be altered “on the fly,” making them a more dynamic place for testing and learning about customer preferences. Deborah Kania is lead marketer at multichannel optical supplier Lens Express in Deerfield Beach, FL, co-author of “The Web Catalog Cookbook” and “The Internet World Guide to One-To-One Web Marketing,” and author of the upcoming book “Branding.com.” She observes, “Two of the biggest changes