Circulation: RFM Optimization Still a Successful Segmentation Tool
May 16, 2006

Although it’s one of cataloging’s oldest circulation planning practices, recency/frequency/monetary value (RFM) segmentation is under-used by many smaller catalogers, pointed out John Lenser, president of circulation planning consulting firm Lenser during his session, “Circulation and Merge Strategies in a Multichannel World,” at last week’s ACCM. “RFM’s been the buzzword of direct marketing for as long as I can remember,” Lenser said. “The reality is, you want to segment by RFM even if you have two names in a cell.” He offered several RFM segmentation tips: *Create appropriate segments irrespective of segment size. *There’s no need for statistical significance in segment size. *Don’t be afraid to segment house files

Know Your Carrier and Know Your Business During Negotiations
April 25, 2006

Long gone are the days of relying solely on United Parcel Service (UPS) or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for all your small package ground delivery needs. Nowadays, most mailers are not only turning to a mixture of different carriers, but they’re also better able to negotiate carrier contracts than ever before. Rick Collins and Tim Geiken, both managing directors at transportation and shipping consultancy AFMS Inc., offered during a session at NCOF several negotiation pointers to catalog shippers when working out small parcel shipping contracts with carriers. Among these, -Understand your business better than your carrier does. -Look at your previous contracts and how well

Shipping& Mailing: In Search of the Perfect Order
April 18, 2006

You may think you have a great fill rate, but are you looking at all of the metrics necessary to determine how many customers are getting perfect packages? Kate Vitasek, managing partner of consulting firm Supply Chain Visions, cited a number of reasons why a seemingly “good” fill rate of 99 percent is nevertheless far from perfect in her “Perfecting the Perfect Order” session during last week’s National Conference on Operations& Fulfillment. “Say you have a 99 percent fill rate from your distribution center,” she said. “Is that good? If one person missed out, out of 100, you could have a fallout in your company because

Strategy: When Prospects Aren’t Buying
February 1, 2006

What to do about declining results to prospect lists. Response rates to outside prospect lists have been on the decline, and last year was no exception. In some cases, results to tried-and-true continuation lists are off by as much as 50 percent. This isn’t a trend that’s likely to reverse itself anytime soon. This month, I’ll look at some reasons why response rates have declined and what you can do to compensate. Why Prospect Lists Trend Down Response rates to prospect lists have declined for several reasons: unseasonably warm weather during this past fall and holiday buying season, large amounts of consumer debt

A Burdensome Plan
February 1, 2006

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSTA), in the planning stages for many years, finally went into effect on Oct. 1, 2005. So far, it’s a voluntary program in which remote sellers collect state and local sales taxes and remit them to the jurisdictions in which their buyers reside. As you know, merchants currently are required to collect state and local taxes only if they have nexus (a physical presence such as a store or headquarters) in the state. Consumers are expected to pay sales taxes on their online and catalog purchases. Of course, most don’t bother or don’t know it’s required. As

Trim Costs After the Postal Rate Increase
February 1, 2006

From improved data hygiene practices to a better print contract, a little savings here and there really can add up. Last month’s postal rate increase of 5.4 percent should have caught no one by surprise. If you’re looking for ways to save on other parts of your operation in order to pay for your higher postal bill, you’ll find many options. In the first part of this article, you’ll learn about list hygiene tools that aren’t just important to offsetting the postal rate increase, but are good strategies to keep your housefile healthy and responsive. In the second part, we’ll offer tips and caveats

The Drill Down
February 1, 2006

How your operations and marketing efforts can benefit from statistical analysis and modeling. Forgive me if I generalize for a minute. There are two approaches to marketing analysis: the arithmetic and the statistical. The Arithmetic Approach Sometimes called “descriptive analytics,” this is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, depending on a spreadsheet and the sweat of your brow. Extracting a season’s sales from your transaction system to your spreadsheet, you can determine the following: - percent response, by dividing your number of orders by your mail quantity per segment; - average order value, by dividing your gross sales by your number of orders per segment; -

Build a Collaborative Relationship With Your Printer
February 1, 2006

Your relationship with your print suppliers should be strong and cohesive. After all, your printer may be your largest vendor in terms of dollars spent annually. Your printer is important to your business, and you should view it as your company’s business partner. When deciding on a printer, price certainly is important. No direct marketer should pay a large premium for the privilege of dealing with a particular printing company. But there are other factors, such as service, lead times and technology, that should be taken into consideration. In this article, I’ll offer tips for maximizing your relationship with your printer.

Cool Ideas
January 1, 2006

In a world of cynics it’s easy to focus purely on what needs fixing or what’s just plain silly. Yet no doubt you agree that it can be refreshing and heartening to concentrate on the positive things one sees in daily life. Here are a few I encountered in the past few weeks: Gift cards for various merchants sold in supermarkets. A display at my local Super Fresh included gift cards for companies such as Bed Bath & Beyond and The Home Depot. Talk about convenient holiday gift shopping for consumers and an added distribution channel for merchants. To whomever thought of that idea,

A Chat With Paal Gisholt, President/CEO, SmartPak Equine
January 1, 2006

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, January 2006 Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Paal Gisholt: The catalog was established in April of 2002. Prior to that, we were a dot-com company that started in June of 2000. CS: How do you describe your primary merchandise? PG: We have a core product offering, which is custom-packed equine nutritional supplements in daily-dose packs. We’ve used that as a platform from which we sell all different types of products that are useful to people who ride horses. Those are things like horse clothing, barn and stable equipment, rider gear, pharmaceuticals for horses, etc. And