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

Nine Tips to Help Improve Your Outbound Parcel Shipping
August 1, 2004

Shipping and handling (S&H) complaints usually rank pretty high on the list of gripes customers have against merchants. At the same time, consumers rate parcel delivery companies as some of the best in customer service*. Is there a disconnect in the consumer’s mind, or is there more to this dichotomy than meets the eye? Catalog Success asked Jeff Kline, a veteran of catalog fulfillment, to share his advice on how you can increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of your outbound parcel shipping services — while at the same time maintaining or even improving your customer service objectives. Kline is president of

Case Study: Massage Warehouse Cuts Delivery Costs
July 1, 2004

Problem: Massage Warehouse was receiving delivery fines from shipping companies and returned packages due to incorrect customer address data. Solution: The company implemented QAS’ software to validate addresses using U.S. Postal Service (USPS) data. Results: Delivery surcharges dropped by 63 percent, staff productivity significantly increased, and customer satisfaction grew due to faster delivery times. When both delivery surcharges imposed by shipping companies and the number of returned packages began to rise due to incorrect address formats, Massage Warehouse realized it needed to adjust its customer address data management. For example, the difference between “Strt.” and “St.” as an abbreviation for “Street” was costing the

Postal Reform: Yea or Nay?
July 1, 2004

When I first started out in magazine editing 14 years ago, one of my tasks as a junior editor was to open the mail. It actually was a line item on my job description, because the duty was no small feat back then. Each day a hearty gentleman from our mail room would heave onto my desk a mail crate stuffed with press releases, flyers, letters to the editor and other mail. Back then I opened about 100 pieces of mail a day and rerouted each to the appropriate editor, our files or the trash. Today, however, I get a tiny folder of

How to Develop a Reverse Logistics Strategy
December 1, 2003

Multichannel industry leaders such as Cabela’s, Talbots, Eddie Bauer, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lands’ End and L.L. Bean have established themselves as the standard-setters for returns processing, allowing customers the flexibility of returning goods with a no-quibble guarantee. But there’s a downside to a liberal returns policy: Companies have seen return rates increase every year for the past 10 years. For example, $5 of every $100 worth of goods purchased on the Web are returned, compared to $6 for traditional retailers, according to The Boston Consulting Group and And for many merchandise categories, returns rates are much higher. Moreover, the study found

Mail Dates vs. In-home Dates
December 1, 2003

Some catalogers prefer mailings that are based on in-home dates, while others use mail dates. There appears to be some confusion about which strategy to employ and why. Compounding this dilemma is the fact that some catalogers tend to use the terms “in-home dates” and “mail dates” interchangeably. But significant differences exist between the two. This month I’ll explore the pros and cons of each. I’ll also try to provide guidance regarding which mailing strategy is right for your catalog-distribution plan. Terms Defined Mail dates are defined as the day the mailing is to begin. The mailing generally takes place during a five-day

Boost Your Revenue per Catalog Mailed
November 1, 2003

As a cataloger, no doubt you always want to increase the amount of revenue per catalog (RPC) mailed to your housefile and to outside prospects. As you boost circulation, your RPC will decrease since catalogs are being sent to lower-performing names, generally to prospects. So a general caveat: The more you mail, the less RPC you’ll achieve. Increasing RPC most often will result in increasing your bottom line. So if you grow by increasing circulation, how can you maintain or increase the RPC? This month I offer 10 proven ways to increase your RPC. 1. Add pages. By adding pages