Catalog Success Exclusive: How Gulf Coast DM Sales Weathered the Ills of 2005
September 12, 2006

Despite a postal rate increase and natural disasters in the United States, direct marketing revenue was up 10 percent from 2004 to 2005, according to a recent report from co-op database provider Abacus obtained exclusively by Catalog Success. Sales increased an average of 15 percent for 2005, with a peak increase of 21 percent over 2004 in August. Sales rose by 13 percent in September, despite Hurricane Katrina’s late August impact. In data revealed exclusively to Catalog Success, Abacus shows the effects Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on direct sales on the Gulf Coast in Q2 and Q3 2005. Alabama Mobile: Q2 sales up

Postal: Three Ways to Reduce Postal Costs and Increase Response
September 12, 2006

With the holiday season around the corner, and a double-digit postal increase on the horizon, consider where you can gain incremental value out of your housefile. Mike Yapuncich, vice president, solution support for data services provider Experian, offers a few tips on how to do just that: 1. Mail to the correct address. “The most important thing that catalogers should be doing to get incremental value out of their housefiles is [to use] NCOALink,” Yapuncich says. This process updates your housefile based on new mover information registered with the USPS. Yapuncich notes that while some catalogers try to save money by using NCOALink quarterly, the

Prepare For the Postal Hike
August 1, 2006

When postage rates increase, catalogers really feel the pinch. For example, in January of this year, we experienced a 5.4 percent rate hike. This was the first rate increase since June 2002 (which, at the time, was the third increase in two years). Brace yourself for yet another increase in 2007. What’s more, rumor has it the U.S. Postal Service wants to increase rates again in 2008, which would make three rate hikes in three years. These increases could be steep enough to push some smaller catalogers over the edge. They could mean the difference between profit and loss on an income statement.

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

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.

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