Close More Online Sales
June 1, 2002

Catalogers know the Web can be a valuable place to sell product. However, it’s likely that many are missing the chance to generate even more sales via the Web. To boost your chance at success, pay as much attention to closing the sale online as you would in your print catalogs—perhaps even more so due to the nature of the Web. Therefore, to convert more of your Web shoppers into buyers, consider three key points in your Web-shopping process: online customer service; shipping and handling; and order-taking and processing. Online Customer Service Here are two commonly held misconceptions about online customer service:

Channel Crossing: Guiding Customers to Web Sites
May 1, 2002

When direct marketing companies first invested in the World Wide Web, creative strategies and marketing budgets for online and off-line operations were segregated. Some executives believed the new medium required different marketing strategies and personnel, while others wanted to keep staffers and budgets detached, facilitating a lucrative Web spin-off. Today both of these rationales have been debunked. The rules of direct marketing hold fast regardless of channel. But the fallout from these early missteps continues: Catalogers sometimes measure the success of their campaigns in silos, neglecting the influence of campaigns across sales channels. “When people try to track traffic to the

E-mail Appending: Pros, Cons and Action Tips
April 1, 2002

Spam is in the eye of the beholder. This adage offered by Anne Holland, publisher of MarketingSherpa.com, encapsulates the current discussions about e-mail appending. Most of the debates center around privacy as it relates to recipients’ permission. Some experts propose that the existence of a business relationship in one channel (e.g., direct mail) doesn’t justify marketers’ contact through another (e.g., online) when the customer hasn’t given his or her specific permission. “Until [customers] grant permission to send that e-mail, you shouldn’t assume you have it,” says Margie Arbon, director of operations for Mail Abuse Prevention System, a non-profit organization that works with Internet service

High-tech Customer Service
March 1, 2002

Technological advancements within contact centers are revolutionizing the way catalogers answer and manage inbound calls. And if implemented properly, automated, inbound call programs can streamline caller-cataloger interactions and improve overall customer relations. Added bonus: By using these technologies, catalogers are saving time and money—good news in these economically challenging times. The Virtual CSR Imagine a virtual customer service representative (CSR) through which callers can place, change or check their order status. For example, officials at NetByTel (www.netbytel.com) say their NetByTel Connected system’s virtual agents recognize human colloquialisms, ask callers to repeat information the technology couldn’t initially register, and it even

February 1, 2002

Catalogers know the Web can be a valuable place to sell product. However, it’s likely that many are missing the chance to generate even more sales via the Web. To boost your chance at success, pay as much attention to closing the sale online as you would in your print catalogs—perhaps even more so due […]

Try Teamwork: Internet Partnerships
December 1, 2001

Putting aside for a moment the criticisms about its overall business model, Amazon.com offers numerous lessons for Web retailers—namely, the inherent beauty of Internet partnerships. Indeed, Amazon set the standard for this mainstay in the e-commerce world, and numerous catalogers have adopted these principles to great success. In fact, 10 percent of all Internet sales and 3 to 5 percent of all online catalog Web sales come through affiliate sites—and these numbers are rising rapidly, noted two consultants at the recent Direct Marketing Association Annual conference in Chicago. In their seminar entitled “Internet Partnerships: Understanding the Key to Catalog Growth,” John Deneen, president of

One-Stop E-commerce: GiftCatalog.com
December 1, 2001

Type the word “Gift” into any Internet search engine, and you’ll be faced with more sites than you know what to do with. From Gift.com to SendAGift.com, online gift retailing has become a hot-button business. With such a crowded field, why would the executives of retail giant Target Corp. decide that three of its strongest print catalog brands—Wireless, Signals and Seasons—would do better under one URL, GiftCatalog.com? The answer lies in the shopping experience. Market researchers told Target’s online division, target.direct, that potential for cross-selling among the three catalogs was high, but that navigating three different sites was not as easy it should be.

Nine Tips for Building Your E-mail Housefile
August 1, 2001

All of my favorite catalogs (both business and consumer) regularly e-mail to me promotions or newsletters. It appears that today’s catalogers are taking e-mail communication seriously and devoting significant marketing efforts to regularly contacting customers and prospects. Indeed, a cataloger’s e-mail file is a valuable asset in building site traffic and sales. Following are nine tips to aggressively grow your e-mail list. Prominently feature on your Web site’s home page an invitation to sign up for e-mailed communications. Most catalogs offer a subscription for e-mail specials or newsletters; but they can be amazingly hard to find. Sometimes I have to scroll down below

10 Low-Cost Tips to Increase Web Sales
August 1, 2001

Want to improve your online customers’ shopping experience? In its new report, “10 Retail Site Fixes That Won’t Break the Bank,” Forrester Research offers these tips culled from a recent study of 100 retail Web sites. 1. Don’t let customers get away. Customers who mistakenly type in “wwwhomedepot.com” are still directed to Home Depot’s site. But those typing “wwwjcpenney.com” end up at a casino site. “Register and use common domain name misspellings of your site,” says James Crawford, a Forrester analyst. 2. Make it easy for customers to look around. Don’t force them to complete a long online registration form just so they can

Show Us Your True Online Colors
August 1, 2001

Customers will expect to see perfect color online by the year 2002, according to analysts at Forrester Research. Catalogers who are finally feeling comfortable with computer-to-plate and digital proofs now are facing the daunting task of achieving color perfection on their Web pages. Today’s online shoppers are demanding more from their online shopping experience, including color accuracy. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Media Metrix shows that 83 percent of online shoppers distrust the colors on their monitors. Yet 80 percent of respondents said accurate color was “very important” when buying clothing, cosmetics, home furnishings and art online. More importantly, 50 percent of