74% of Holiday Shoppers Went Green in ’07
January 9, 2008

Going “green” will become increasingly important for multichannel merchants as consumers’ spending habits continue to be influenced by environmental concerns. According to the 2007 Annual National Shopping Behavior Survey by KPMG, a vast majority of holiday shoppers expressed a willingness to pay more for ecofriendly gifts and took note of the countries where items were made. The recent survey of 815 shoppers was conducted randomly by telephone. Here are some highlights of the survey: * 88 percent of respondents said they were very concerned about the environment, with 74 percent saying they buy environmentally friendly products; * 60 percent of those respondents were willing

Why Not a Catalogers’ Black Friday? (Or, How I Developed a Major Inferiority Complex on Your Behalf)
November 30, 2007

Did anybody else get an inferiority complex over the Thanksgiving weekend? I’m referring to the hoopla that surrounded Black Friday on Nov. 23. Like just about anything else in America, Black Friday gets bigger every year, and this year really went over the top. It got me thinking about the future: Does this “holiday” have to be a retail-only one? I certainly read enough about it. I saw plenty of TV news clips of those crazy, sleep-deprived shoppers lining up outside the stores in the wee hours of that Friday morning. I sifted through enough Circuit City, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Wal-Mart circulars about their

Variety a Driving Factor in Shoppers’ Favorite Online Merchants
October 9, 2007

According to STORES magazine’s inaugural Favorite 50 survey, conducted by BIGresearch, consumers are drawn most to Web sites that offer a variety of choices. Topping the publication’s rankings for customers’ favorite online retail companies was Amazon.com, whose broad product array connects with consumers. Following Amazon’s site was another site full of possibilities, eBay.com. The rest of the top 10 is below, followed by a list of all catalog companies ranked in the top 50. 3. WalMart.com 4. BestBuy.com 5. JCPenney.com 6. Target.com 7. Kohls.com 8. Overstock.com 9. Google.com 10. Sears.com The following catalogers were also on the list (followed by actual rank): LandsEnd.com (13),

As the Wal-Mart Turns: Big Retailers Post Sluggish April Sales
May 15, 2007

The fate of Wal-Mart, Target and other big retailers often represents a benchmark for how smaller multichannel marketers will perform, sales-wise. But if their sales performance in April was any indication, then it’s not a good time right now for anyone. Below are highlights of several key big retailers’ April sales totals. * Overall, the UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers’ sales totals of 53 retailers showed a 2.4 percent decrease, the largest decline since 1970 * Wal-Mart’s same-store sales fell 3.5 percent * Target Corp.’s same-store sales decreased by 6.1 percent * Federated Department Stores’ (Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s) same-store sales dropped 2.2 percent * Gap Inc.’s same-store sales sunk by

E-commerce: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Next-gen Web Design
May 23, 2006

Consider leveraging Web 2.0 technology to boost your Web site’s intuitive response to your customers, said Bridget Fahrland, executive director at Web design firm Fry Inc., and Kevin Messing, Fry’s creative director, in their session “Designing for Web 2.0: Questioning the Conventional Wisdom of Web Design,” at during the ACCM in Chicago. Messing defined Web 2.0 as being second-generation Internet technologies that drive a better user experience online. “Web 2.0 is a new approach to creating and distributing content online, characterized by open communication and decentralized sources of content,” he said. Here are some practical do’s and don’ts for starting to use this next-generation

Copy Clinches the Sale
November 1, 2004

If you work among the creative staff at your catalog company, you may hear the following discussion from time to time: Merchant: “I need this item to be pictured a little smaller for it to pay for itself.” Art director: “If we just cut the copy, we probably can make the picture a little bigger and still take up less total space. People don’t read anyway.” Copywriter: “I’ve already cut the copy three times, and now there’s barely enough room to give even the product dimensions and SKU number.” Many people say nobody reads anymore, so you might as well show bigger pictures

Reduce Your Photography Costs
December 1, 2003

Roughly speaking, all catalogs are styled in the tradition of either Louis Vuitton or Wal-Mart. No, really. The former are created using a traditional catalog workflow: merchandiser, designer, photographer, stylist, color house and web printer. The result often is a high-end look that’s inspirational enough to coax customers into paying the substantial product costs. Cocktail-party stories about these catalogs feature the photographer too heavy to fit into a helicopter and an art director arguing with modeling agencies by cell phone while standing on an island in a remote Alaskan lake shooing deer away from a fully styled bedroom set at midnight (true,

L.L. Bean Moving Money Into Marketing
October 1, 2003

The last 20 months at L.L. Bean have confirmed one over-arching principle: Progress can be painful. Faced with stagnant sales, too much inventory and stale creative, Chris McCormick, CEO of L.L. Bean, had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions if he wanted to whip the company into fighting shape for the 21st century. He instituted numerous reorganizational initiatives that included eliminating 32 catalogs from the mail plan and 2,300 unproductive catalog pages. The staff cut 25 percent of its SKUs. Its vendor list was chopped in half after the company renegotiated nearly all major contracts, including printing, paper, e-mail fulfillment and data

Catalogers are Turning to the Co-op Databases for Prospecting
December 10, 2002

By Alicia Orr Suman With fewer hotline names and a scarcity of new rental lists to test, catalogers have been faced with a drought of new names to mail this year. Seeking ways to beef up their mail plans with quality names at the lowest possible cost, more catalogers appear to be tapping into cooperative catalog databases. Catalog co-ops have been around for more than a decade. But only recently have some reached the size and scope needed to become a substantial piece of your prospecting plan—making many catalogers more apt to ramp up usage of this alternative source of

A Healthy Bottom Line
July 1, 2002

When Glen Pirie came to Swanson Health Products four years ago with a background in retail operations he was used to serving big customers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot. But he soon realized that for a consumer catalog, “A lot of the same business principles apply—like giving customers what they want.” The difference in the catalog field, he says is that there are “a lot more customers when you’re dealing with catalog orders. At Swanson, we have about 750,000.” Today, Pirie overseas purchasing, receiving, manufacturing and logistics at Swanson, which markets about 6,000 vitamin and health supplement products, including national and proprietary