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

Launching a Maternity Catalog In Print and Online
July 1, 2000

It is happening more often—an interesting reverse trend. New e-commerce companies recognizing the need to create greater awareness are producing print catalogs to help accomplish that task. Flush with Internet success, the exciting reality of creating a Web site and actually attracting visitors from everywhere who browse and buy spurs these companies to create new categories of catalogs. The Naissance maternity catalog is typical of this phenomenon. Naissance began operations two years ago as a retail maternity shop in a prestigious mall in suburban Los Angeles. The Internet site, www.naissancematernity.com, was developed soon afterwards. While the retail shop new business from as

Garden.com: Growing By Its Own Rules
July 1, 2000

A move from pure play to cataloger—that’s the trend in the online retail industry. After years online, pure-play retailers are discovering that catalogs are cost-efficient customer-acquisition and branding tools. But despite moving into the mail order world, pure plays do not consider themselves catalogers. Lisa Sharples, co-founder of Garden.com and the force behind that company’s recent print catalog drops, is straightforward about its catalog’s purpose—driving customers to the Garden.com Web site. Unlike many entrepreneurs who launch catalogs as extensions of their avocations, she didn’t start Garden.com out of enthusiasm for gardening. Sharples and her partners wanted to start an online business in a

Mony Modes, One Voice
June 1, 2000

A single customer contact center presents one company message across e-mail, Web chat and telephone calls As catalogers move business online, they are noticing an increase in the number of incoming calls to the call center. Theoretically, the Internet is supposed to reduce the number of calls. But Web sites, especially commerce-enabled ones, are generating more contact for catalogers. Many of the incoming calls are for customer service. The customer is on the site, they have loaded up their shopping cart, but they have a question about the color, the size, the quantity or they can’t figure out how to complete the transaction.

E-catalog: Web Content
June 1, 2000

Reports show that editorial content best achieves Internet customer retention. Making one’s site a resource for information related to your products draws buyers back to your site when they aren’t looking to buy, and provides a sales vehicle when they are buying. Content can do everything from establish brand to build community to tap into the power of suggestive selling. Melissa Davis, director of e-commerce for R.R. Donnelley Direct (RRD), says that editorial is a good place to integrate multiple channels of retailing. RRD has created a whole division devoted to e-commerce, and in addition to providing expertise on moving from print catalogs to

Playing by the Rules
January 1, 2000

CALIFORNIA LAW recently defined three types of acceptable e-mail use. Companies can send e-mail to: 1. Consumers provided that the marketer identifies the message as commercial e-mail by beginning the subject line with “ADV.” 2. Consumers who have given permission via an opt-in. 3. Consumers with whom they have a prior business relationship. While these rules aren’t overly restrictive, similar legislation is coming down the pike nationally, and companies that choose to prospect or communicate with existing customers should be prepared to comply, now. Which of these three methods should they use? It depends on the goal of the campaign, but mostly success relies

Personalized Web Merchandising
October 1, 1999

Instead of just repurposing copy and images, rethink your Web catalog for more effective merchandising Personalization and variable data printing are making their marks on the print catalog world, but the place where customized merchandising techniques are likely to shine is the Web. While a print catalog is static, a Web catalog is dynamic and can be generated in order to meet the needs of the customer at hand. Explains Vahe Katros, director of retail applications at Blue Martini, a San Mateo, CA-based company that creates Web merchandising software: There’s two issues to versioning catalogs: how many different merchandise assortments you can

Selling Science on the Web
October 1, 1999

SciTech International, an early Internet convert, now has fully integrated e-commerce Since SciTech International’s software products are aimed at the scientific, engineering and technical end-user from Boeing to the National Institutes of Health, it was a natural for the company to be an early convert to selling on the Web. “It was a natural fit since our target customers—scientists and engineers—were the first users of the Internet for research,” says Barry Moltz, president of the 6-year-old firm which sells software and other technical computing tools. Moltz, a former IBM employee who co-founded the Chicago-based company in 1993 with another former IBMer, explains that traffic

Keeping Up With Growth
August 1, 1999

The recent enviable growth of The J. Jill Group (formerly DM Manage-ment) has been one of this year’s catalog success stories. Second-quarter results for 1999 showed that sales were up 31 percent over the prior year, while operating income was up 43 percent. With catalog sales going strong to the tally of $143 million for the first half of 1999, The J. Jill Group has planned new initiatives: an expansion into e-commerce in August 1999 and retail stores in 2000. The Tilton, NH-based specialty women’s apparel direct marketer has gotten much attention for the lifestyle marketing approach to its two catalogs, J. Jill and

Thinking Outside the Box
February 1, 1999

About this time nine years ago I was getting set to be married, so I registered my china and crystal patterns with a Big Department Store’s bridal registry. Then, a funny thing happened: I started receiving boxes at my home from someplace called Ross-Simons. “What store is this?” I asked my mother, for while it carried the precise gifts I had selected, I had neither been there nor heard of it. “It’s not a store. It’s a catalog,” she replied. More recently, in the fall of 1997 my sister was wed. For her bridal registry, she chose to skip the Big Department