2009 Resource Guide

You’re sure to get a lot out of this, our sixth annual Catalog Success Resource Guide. This special section provides you all the crucial details, company information, contact numbers and addresses of product and service providers to catalog/multichannel marketers. You can find the most current information for these companies in the December print edition of Catalog Success, and that data will be reflected at the link above by the middle of December. This year, we’ve simplified our approach a bit, and it’ll make the guide easier for you to navigate. We have one primary listing of companies by product/service category. Then at the end

B-to-B Cataloging: Hire or Outsource?

The most successful catalog/multichannel marketers follow a proven principle: They know what they do well, and they outsource what they don’t. To be a successful B-to-B multichannel merchant, you need to staff or outsource 10 core competencies, which are unique to multichannel merchants. These are merchandising/product development, branding, creative, marketing, database, Internet, call center, inventory, fulfillment and print management. Take a moment to identify which of these you staff internally and those that you outsource; then ask these questions: 1. Can you identify the person in charge of this competency? Someone needs to actively run each of these areas. If one of the

Copywriting: The Power of YOU

If you’d asked last year what I thought the strongest word in catalog and direct selling was, without hesitation I would have said, “FREE.” “Free” always tests strong. Even in e-mail subject line scenarios where you’d expect spam filters to knock them out, response is so strong that it more than makes up for the ones filtered out. But this year it appears that “YOU” has become more important. And while most catalogs and Web sites seem to pretend this word doesn’t even exist, they’re missing out on a personal powerhouse word that trumps all others when used properly. I reached this conclusion

E-commerce Insights: Don’t Waffle Around With Your Web Site

The Internet isn’t pink, and it’s certainly not gray. It’s pure black and white. Users want Web sites to be like grocery stores: It doesn’t matter which supermarket you go to in the U.S. — whether it’s a Piggly Wiggly in South Carolina, Safeway in Seattle or Shop ’n Save in Maine — you know milk will be near the eggs, flour close to the sugar and the bananas in the vicinity of the apples. You don’t expect ice cream in the dog food aisle or pickles sandwiched between puppy chow and cat litter. A typical grocery store is full of absolutes. Same

Editor’s Take: Desperate or Shortsighted?

For my final column of 2008, I thought I’d examine the results of some recent reader polls we’ve run on CatalogSuccess.com, hoping a few positives might come through. Well, I tried, but found mixed results at best. After each discussion below, I give a little “mood” rating between one and 10, with 10 being highly optimistic and one being pessimistic. Holiday Sales Projections: Although the smallest percentage of readers (19 percent) were planning on a “decent size” increase, 26 percent were planning for a slight increase, 29 percent expected flat sales and 26 percent planned for a decrease. All things considered, these numbers

Industry Eye: New! Exclusive Abacus Consumer Co-op Data

Below is the first in a quarterly series of charts featuring purchase data compiled from Abacus Consumer Co-op members. Abacus is making this data available exclusively to Catalog Success. The first one contains data from Sept. 1, 2006, through Aug. 31, 2008. This analysis is limited to co-op members who were active through the entire time frame and includes only catalog, online and retail transactions. Consumer sales growth was solid for the first two months of 2008, before falling off at the end of the first quarter, according to a subset of Abacus Consumer Cooperative members with catalog, online or retail transactions from Sept.

Special Report: Vendor Relations

Of all the strategies for reducing costs in your catalog business, vendor compliance programs may be the most underdeveloped. A well thought out, formal vendor compliance policy can reduce warehousing and freight costs, speed up order processing, and lead directly to increased customer satisfaction. To achieve this, you must spell out your requirements and chargebacks for vendor noncompliance. Without a formal vendor compliance policy, the warehouse has no recourse but to absorb both direct and hidden costs for noncompliance. Without compliance, it’s impossible for multichannel merchants to implement advanced supply chain systems (ASNs), just-in-time inventory, source marking and ticketing, or radio frequency identification programs.

Strategy: Catalog Circ Planning Will Never Be the Same Again

Catalog circulation planning has changed forever, and knowing how to use your marketing database across all channels is the key to success. In today’s multichannel marketing world, contact strategy is the way to the promised land, while planning channels in isolation is the wrong approach. So how can you adapt to changing multichannel tactics efficiently and affordably? Your Challenges Significant changes have occurred that make planning circ now more difficult than ever, and many once-proven methods are no longer effective: 1. Tracing source codes. Catalog nontraceable factors have increased 20 percent to 60 percent or more, creating the need for regular matchbacks. 2. Internet

Valuations & Acquisitions: Dealing With an October Surprise

An “October surprise” in political terms means unveiling an unflattering allegation against your rival just before the November election. Although that didn’t happen this year, catalogers, along with the rest of the world, experienced quite an October surprise with the world financial crisis. So a mergers and acquisitions market that was extremely volatile to begin with is shaken to the core. It’s almost impossible for all but the most well-capitalized of marketers to get deals done. The sobering reality is that many will be forced to sell at bargain basement prices or, worse, close their doors. Amid this bleak backdrop, Lee Helman, a partner