Editor’s Take
July 1, 2008

A quick note: Our June issue was already at the printer while the 25th Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants (ACCM) was taking place on May 19-22 in Kissimmee, Fla. So belatedly, here’s my postconference recap. This was my 22nd consecutive tour of duty at what was once known as the National Catalog Conference, and the Annual Catalog Conference after that. But rest assured, I’m not going to give you one of these old-fogey reflections on how “it ain’t like it used to be.” Instead, let’s track back just a few years to Boston, June 2001. That was probably the most apprehensive

Strategy: It’s All About Co-Mailing
July 1, 2008

Co-mailing has become an extremely important way to reduce postage costs. This is the process of combining catalogs with other catalogs to create a bigger mail pool that yields greater discounts for the companies that participate. It’s a complicated topic to comprehend. So first I’ll discuss what co-mailing is and how to do it, then get into its advantages and disadvantages, and lastly what you can expect in terms of net savings. Ways to Co-Mail There are two ways to commingle publications for co-mailing. In-line co-mailing occurs when multiple catalog titles are combined into one mailstream during the stitching and ink-jetting stage on the

Special Report: Sustainability & the Environment
June 1, 2008

The ever-so-common phrase “going green” means taking the three basic principles of sustainability and applying them everywhere you can in your organization. These principles, of course, are: Reduce — lower your waste and consumption; Reuse — using items multiple times for the same thing; and Recycle — giving something a second life. Environmental stewardship is especially important because our industry is too often viewed as a culprit. The single biggest thing you can do is to better educate yourself. Ask questions about your production process and the materials that are being used. How much do you know about your paper? Where it came

Guest View: Economic Malaise, Plethora of Vendor Intros Among Highlights From ACCM
May 30, 2008

Editor’s Note: Jim Coogan, a catalog consultant since 1993 and former VP of marketing at Woodworker’s Supply, among other catalog and retail positions, has been a regular contributor for Catalog Success and the Catalog Success: Tactics & Tips e-newsletter for the past year. He attended the May 19-22 ACCM conference in Kissimmee, Fla., and filed the following recap on the event. I’ll file my own personal reflections on the conference in the July print edition. — Paul Miller, editor-in-chief There’s nothing like an economic downturn to get people’s attention. And the state of the economy and how it would affect catalogers was topic A

10 Ways Catalogers Can Help Save the Planet
May 6, 2008

Recently there’s been a groundswell of consumer support for sustainable business practices among marketers. And no group has drawn more ire than catalogers, whose efforts are visible to the public every day in the mailbox. Fortunately, the printing and paper industries have a wide range of tools and processes available to reduce the carbon footprint of mailings. Here are 10 key practices you should implement to make your business more sustainable: 1. Think big picture. It’s the whole supply chain, not just paper. What happens down the line starts at the design stage. Form a team and think the catalog through from beginning to

How to Get Greener, Part 1
April 29, 2008

In the first part of this two-part series on the environmental issues affecting the catalog industry today, this week I look at the role recycled paper can play in helping your business become more environmentally sustainable. The hot-button issue of environmental awareness has spread to the catalog/multichannel business. Consumers are increasingly asking that their catalogs “go green.” The concept of lowering the carbon footprint, however, needs to be balanced against the economic reality of spiraling costs for catalogers. Is it possible for catalogers to “go green” without going out of business in the process? Step One’s Almost Always Recycled Paper One issue that’s

Catalog Cost Cutting ’08, Part 1
April 1, 2008

Catalogers always need to know how to maximize their printing, paper and mail distribution programs, especially now that we all face more paper and postage cost increases. So this month and next, I’ll share some effective ways to squeeze more savings out of these programs. In this first part, I’ll expose 10 places where expensive fat is hiding in your paper and its printing process. Next month, it’s all postal. Squeeze the Press What you pay your printer to print your catalog pales in comparison to the amount you spend for paper and postage, but there are still significant savings to be had. The

Special Report: Paper
March 1, 2008

No one can deny that 2007 was an eventful year, testing the business savvy and agility of some of the industry’s most seasoned players. Last May’s postal rate jump (with another increase slated for May this year) coupled with a weak U.S. dollar presented significant challenges for catalogers trying to maintain control of production costs. Next to postal rates, paper poses the greatest challenge to most catalogers. The dip in the value of U.S. currency and the strength of the Canadian dollar have led to considerable downsizing among paper mills. Last year, Domtar, Fraser Papers, Tembec Coated Paper Group, UPM-Kymmene Group and Wausau Paper

‘Paper’ Money
January 29, 2008

In an all too familiar refrain for catalogers, paper prices rose again earlier this month — the third such increase since last summer. Catalogers using coated groundwood sheets have been dealing with an average increase of $9 per hundredweight (cwt) over the past six months. And there’s no end in sight. In fact, these increases are just the tip of the iceberg. The paper industry is fundamentally changing. Even with the latest price increases, the industry is barely at breakeven. The consolidation of paper companies and the closing of many paper mills have given the remaining corporations the economic muscle to raise prices

Show Me the Numbers; Better Yet, I’ll Show You
January 11, 2008

Over the past few months, we at Catalog Success have been hard at work to further develop a hefty well of research data for our readers. In October we launched the Catalog Success Latest Trends Report, a quarterly series of original benchmarking research we’ve been conducting with the multichannel ad agency Ovation Marketing. In the coming months, we’ll also be running a series of mail volume charts provided by several catalog co-op databases. Like the Latest Trends surveys, these will run in the IndustryEye section of our print magazine. And for the past year or so, we’ve been running a regular reader poll.