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How to Determine if Co-mailing is Right for You
December 1, 2005

Co-mailing (also known as co-mingling) is the process of combining different catalog titles from different catalog companies into one mail stream to generate more carrier route discount mail. On the surface, co-mailing sounds like a great idea. Why would any cataloger be opposed to co-mailing if it resulted in a greater postage discount? However, co-mailing can be challenging. Five Requirements 1. All of the catalogs in the co-mailing must be the exact same trim size. 2. The ink-jet areas must be the same on both the order form/page and on the back cover. 3. All of the participating catalogs must have page counts

Postal Strategies: Reduce Mailing Costs
October 11, 2005

It’s likely we’ll see a 5.4 percent increase in postal expenses in 2006. To us mailers, the meaning is simple: 5.4 percent less contribution to overhead and profits. We’ll need to rethink list and circulation strategies to keep some of our marginal lists within our allowable metrics. Therefore, we’ll either have to: ¥ scrap the mailing lists that aren’t performing within allowable metrics; ¥ review customer lifetime value and allow for a longer payback process (the time it takes to recoup the investment into acquiring a new customer), and a deeper loss per customer acquired; or ¥ reduce catalog expenses to an amount commensurate to the postal

Drop Those Rates
June 1, 2005

Problem: Multititle cataloger Shindigz/Stumps wanted to reduce overall transportation expenses, while retaining flexibility in its product shipping options offered to customers. Solution: The multichannel merchant put its parcel shipping business up for bid. Results: A switch in carriers enabled Shindigz/Stumps to reduce its overall transportation costs by 27 percent. Brad Grimsley knew he needed to make some changes. The vice president of service and fulfillment at Shindigz/Stumps, a South Whitley, Ind.-based party and prom supplies merchant, says he noticed soon after arriving at the company in 2003 that he had an opportunity to reduce shipping expenses. Meanwhile, the company’s overall order volume

How to Offset Postage and Paper Increases
April 1, 2005

Rex Ciavola, senior vice president of marketing operations at Office Depot and Viking Office Products, doesn’t let minor setbacks like postage and paper hikes dampen his spirit. Rather, he sets out to find other ways to attain the Utopian, “better, faster, cheaper” way to print. Ciavola oversees the A-to-Zs of both of the organizations’ marketing initiatives, including all retail advertising, direct mail, inserts and catalogs. He leads a collaborative, global marketing and production organization that includes the Office Depot team in Delray Beach, Fla.; the Viking team in Torrance, Calif.; and teams based in Europe and Japan. The combined organizations have internal staffs that

Eight Money-saving Ideas for 2005
January 1, 2005

Since the beginning of the calendar year often is the start of a budget year, I’ll discuss some ways to save your company money and improve your bottom line in 2005. Hopefully you’re finishing a great holiday season, and instead of needing these savings to make ends meet, you can use them to increase circulation or catalog page count for next holiday season. In addition, these ideas may help you offset the impending postage increase. (For more, see this month’s column by my colleague, Stephen Lett, page 39.) Here, I’ve listed the ideas in order of potential magnitude, with the last ones

Prepare for the Upcoming Postage Rate Increase
January 1, 2005

Next year, postage rates are expected to increase from 13 percent to 20 percent. This will be the first increase since mid-2002. It’s important to spend the next 12 months preparing to absorb an increase of this magnitude. Don’t wait until the increase is in effect before deciding what to do. Now is the time to begin making adjustments. Following are 10 cost-savings tactics to try. Action Steps 1. Look at your catalog trim size. If yours is a pound-rate catalog (i.e., weighs 3.3 ounces or more), a slight reduction in your book’s physical trim size will reduce your postage (and paper) costs.

Preparing for the 2006 Postage Increase? Here are Two Missteps to Avoid
December 21, 2004

Postage rates are expected to increase from 13 percent to 20 percent in 2006, marking the first increase since mid-2002. It’s important to spend the next 12 months preparing to absorb this increase. Don’t wait until the increase is in effect before deciding what to do. Now is the time to begin making adjustments. Often catalogers make cuts in the wrong places. Their intentions are good, but the actions taken aren’t always the best in the long run. Here are two actions not to take when preparing for the postage increase. 1. Don’t stop mailing to Web-only buyers. When you look at your source code report, it

Avoid the Time Crunch
December 1, 2004

How long does it actually take to produce a catalog? The answer depends on if you’re trying to do it the textbook way or the other way … March 20th. The phone rings. New cataloger: “Hi, I just printed my first catalog, so now I need some lists. Can you get me some lists so I can mail my catalog by the end of this month?” “You want to be in the mail in 10 days, and you’re starting the list process now?” “You bet. I wanted to leave you plenty of time.” Producing a catalog basically is a two-part process,

Credit When It’s Due
October 1, 2004

Productivity is alive and well and residing in — of all places — the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In fact, according to Richard Strasser, CFO at USPS, 2004 marks the fifth consecutive year of increased productivity at the agency. Now I know the USPS is not the most popular government agency among those in the direct marketing world. And heaven knows, the USPS certainly did burn bridges in past years by deciding to raise rates in swift succession — hitting catalogers and direct mailers particularly hard. But I’ll give credit (albeit grudgingly) when it’s due. Listen to these statistics, as recently

RFID: The Oncoming Wave
September 1, 2004

This article will define RFID technology and offer examples of how it could help improve your distribution center operations. RFID uses radio waves to automatically identify physical items in varying proximity to readers that can uniquely identify them. The identification process entails the following: - the RF antenna broadcasts a signal; - the tag enters the RF field; - the RF signal powers the tag; - the tag transmits data to the reader; and - the reader interacts directly with the supply chain execution system. By now, no doubt, you’ve heard that Wal-Mart is requiring its top 100 suppliers to