Customer Service: Three Self-Service Pitfalls and Solutions
September 5, 2006

On the surface, customer self-service seems like a pretty good idea. What catalog company wouldn’t want to lessen the burden on its own staff by providing customers the means to handle their own issues? But like other things that also sound too good to be true, self-service has its own set of pitfalls. Some of these pitfalls and associated solutions are outlined in a recent whitepaper released by customer service software provider eGain. Following are three self-service pitfalls and how to avoid them in your business: 1. Self-service isn’t a foolproof way to reduce costs. Although the most common reason for marketers to implement

E-commerce Insights:Improve Your E-mail Sign-up Process
September 1, 2006

How can you get more e-mail sign-ups from your site visitors? E-mail sign-up is simple: a few clicks followed by a handful of keystrokes. But the same process of close comparative scrutiny also can improve complex processes, such as cart and check-out. This article focuses on the e-mail sign-up process at 45 multichannel retailers. For this study, I pulled 45 sites at random, taken from some of the larger merchants in the country. I signed up for e-mail at each using a fresh Gmail account. (For the full methodology and detailed scores and notes for each site, visit I conducted these tests in

E-coming of Age
September 1, 2006

&000;&000; Over the years, I've made plenty of catalog purchases, but rarely simply because I was a catalog business editor. I only turned to catalogs when I needed something unusual or came across a killer sale. Otherwise, I bought my mainstream goods off the rack. Today, that's changed. And the two vehicles that have impacted me the most have been the coming of age of e-mail and the remarkable ease of search engines. I find e-mail's impact on me surprising, because less than five years ago, I'd delete any personal e-mail from just about any address I didn't recognize. But now, I

Cabela’s Tops List of Best Web Sites
August 8, 2006

The Web site of multichannel hunting and fishing merchant Cabela’s provides the best foundational customer experience, according to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s benchmark study on enhanced customer experiences. Cisco’s definition of foundational capabilities includes ease of use, some personalization, free content, and secure, reliable transactional processes. The study benchmarked 20 major merchandise Web sites, and rated the buyer’s experience throughout the entire shopping lifecycle. The top five online retailing sites in foundational capabilities according to Cisco: 1. Cabela’s 2. Best Buy 3. 4. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) 5. Sears Other data revealed om Cisco’s study: * 81 percent of those sites surveyed

Internet Competition Spurs Catalogers’ Ad Spend Increases
July 25, 2006

Catalogers ad spend will increase to $1.3 billion in 2007, reflecting increasing Internet competition, according to estimates in a recent study on advertising ratios and budgets from market research firm Schonfeld & Associates. By comparison, online stores and eBay plan to increase ad spending this year by 11 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Other data revealed in the study: * Computer manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, will increase ad spending by 5.3 percent. * Retail department stores, including such catalog mailers as J.C. Penney, will spend $4.3 billion in 2007, up 7.5 percent from 2005. * Variety stores, such as Target and Wal-mart, will

Search Engine Use for Product Research Expands in Myriad Ways, Survey Shows
July 18, 2006

More than 85 percent of consumers say they research products online before stepping into a store to make a purchase, according to BIGresearch’s June “Consumer Interactions and Intentions” survey. The market research company’s survey of nearly 7,500 respondents also reveals that of those who said they researched online before buying at a retail location, 58 percent made less than $50,000 a year and 59 percent were between 25 and 54. The survey also broke down the five most popular sites for product research. * Although 22 percent of adults first turned to Google for product research on average, the survey shows that 27 percent

A Chat With Nikhil Behldirector of sales centers, HP Home
July 1, 2006

director of sales centers, HP Home © Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, July 2006 Interview by Matt Griffin Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Nikhil Behl: It was established in November, 2002. CS: What is your primary merchandise? NB: HP's consumer direct business in the U.S., entire portfolio of consumer products. More than 4,000 HP home office and supplies, everything from made to order desktops and PCs, as well as inks and paper. Cameras, printers, fax machines. CS: Where did you grow up? NB: New Delhi, India. I went to high school there. I attended a small private

E-commerce: Seven Straightforward Tips to Improve Web Conversion
June 20, 2006

When it comes to online marketing, conversion rates are key. With that in mind, Jeff Schueler, president of Usability Sciences Corp., a Dallas-based Web usability company, offered seven tips to improve conversion on your e-commerce site in a session at the Internet Retailer conference, held earlier this month in Chicago: 1. Encourage account creation. “People inherently don’t like to register,” Schueler said, “so integrate account creation into the shopping cart process, but do it after the customer has paid.” This accomplishes two things: First, the customer doesn’t feel pressured to register in order to buy something from you, and second, you’ll already have the customer’s

By the Stats: Consumer Expectations Increase for the 10th Straight Year
June 6, 2006

The level of consumer expectation across 35 brand categories has risen by 4.5 percent from 2005, while the average ability of brands to keep up with those expectations has dropped by 9.2 percent, according to the “2006 Customer Loyalty Index,” a yearly report by customer loyalty consultancy Brand Keys. This is the 10th straight year consumer expectations have increased, according to the survey. The survey assigned an index number to each company based on the results of a survey of about 16,000 consumers. The index score reflects how well a brand delivers on the expectations of its most loyal consumers. Some of the most

A Chat with Christophe Gaigneux,EVP, Boston Apparel Group,
June 1, 2006

EVP, Boston Apparel Group, © Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, June 2006 Interview by Matt Griffin Catalog Success: How many catalogs are in the Boston Apparel Group? Christophe Gaigneux: In the Boston Apparel Group we have four catalogs, we have Chadwick's, the Lerner catalog, or Metrostyle, because we're changing the name this year, and we have Jessica London. And all three of these are located in the Boston area. And we have La Redoute, which is a French brand that we also have in the U.S. CS: When was that group established? CG: As it is today? We just changed the setup a