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.

12 Creative Tips to Pump Up Catalog Sales and Cut Costs
January 2, 2008

1. Place more emphasis on your exclusive merchandise. 2. Exploit the “collectible” mentality that may be inherent in your product. 3. Emphasize guarantees, security policies and anything that makes your customers feel safer shopping with you. 4. Promote special offers, freebies and premiums that make your customers feel special. 5. Mail an exclusive, smaller-sized catalog to special customers introducing them to a new or special niche product. 6. Include Web sales drivers to encourage browsers to look at your entire assortment. 7. Incorporate a slim-jim format for sale or clearance items rather than changing the size of your main catalog. This can serve

Curve Your Enthusiasm
January 1, 2008

The management of catalog businesses large and small depends on order curves. Yet order curves are affected by several different factors — mail delivery, the weather, time of year, etc. — all of which affect delivery times. This month, I want to touch on the factors that affect these curves, because your actions have the most influence over how soon orders start flowing after the initial mail date and when order levels will peak. Typically, orders start flowing in seven to 10 days after the initial mail date based on a normal five-day mail distribution pattern. If the initial mail date is

Cut Costs and Keep Creative
January 1, 2008

The clock already may have struck midnight on postal reform, but that doesn’t mean your catalog has to turn back into a pumpkin. There’s no need to strip it down in ways that sabotage branding, creativity and, most importantly, sales. Even within the design and financial confines of today’s postal rates and structure, the dream of an effective, financially viable catalog doesn’t have to be a fairy tale. Through postal reform the U.S. Postal Service is developing a more accountable rate-making structure, as most catalogers should be aware by now, replacing irregular rate hikes with more predictable and regular adjustments. It’ll take serious housecleaning

Editor’s Take: Tracking the Most Telling Multichannel Trends
January 1, 2008

In the IndustryEye section of this issue on pgs. 12-13, you’ll find our second quarterly Catalog Success Latest Trends Report, a benchmarking survey we conducted in late November in partnership with the multichannel ad agency Ovation Marketing. This one focuses on key catalog/multichannel issues, and we’ve included most of the charts there, so I encourage you to take a look. You’ll be able to find some charts only on our Web site due to magazine space limitations. We also didn’t have the space to include the numerous comments that you — our readers and survey respondents — wrote in response to two of the questions.

Some Not-So-Obvious Ways to Get Through the Tough Holiday Season Ahead
November 16, 2007

Reading retail sales, housing sales and consumer confidence reports the past couple of weeks while watching the stock market sink, I’ve become quite worried about the outlook for the holiday season for catalog/multichannel marketers. Retailers collectively reported their worst October in 12 years, and a Conference Board report last week said consumer confidence dropped in early November to its lowest level since Hurricane Katrina triggered soaring oil prices two years ago. Meanwhile, recent reports from the National Association of Realtors showed sales of existing homes had plunged to their lowest level in nearly a decade. None of this bodes well for catalogers. So