Catalog Success March 2009
Selecting software for order management or warehouse management systems, e-commerce solutions, or other applications is a challenging task. The process begins by documenting a set of requirements, constructing a request for proposal (RFP), identifying vendors, viewing Web demos, and conducting site visits and reference checks. But a trend is emerging to select vendors based on word-of-mouth recommendations and two-hour Web demos. The question is, is that really the right approach?
Parcel shipping costs are on the rise, with UPS, FedEx and the USPS all recently increasing general rates. While costs are going up, successful catalog/multichannel companies are finding ways to reduce expenses and improve their bottom lines. What about you? Here are seven keys to getting started.
My printer told me to call you,” the man blurted, with obvious panic in his voice. “I’m on press and I need to cut circ. What should I do?” “How much?” I asked. “I don’t know.” (No surprise.)
PATIENT: Doc, when the economy tanked in 2008, my catalog turned from well to sick — we had declines in 12-month buyer counts, reactivation, average order and prospect response. How can I make it well again? CATALOG DOCTOR: You may be suffering from “lazy syndrome,” which has become an epidemic. But there’s a good chance of recovery.
The economy’s in the tank. Costs continue to increase. Response rates are down. What can you do to cut costs that you haven’t done already? You can’t slash and burn your way to prosperity, even in difficult economic times. I see catalogers making cost-cutting decisions that’ll negatively affect their businesses in the long term. It’s not just a matter of reducing expenses, but rather a combination of continued marketing with smart expense control.
For direct merchandisers, the Internet brings opportunities for additional sales and another touchpoint to build relationships with customers. As Internet-based sales have risen to 50 percent of total sales or more for many companies, they’ve also introduced new challenges to demand forecasting and inventory management. Many traditional catalog merchants feel less in control of their inventory planning than in the past.
This month we profile Jason Blake, the 31-year-old founder/president of the The Pond Guy, a catalog/multichannel retailer of pond, lake and water garden supplies.
This month, we bring you the second in our exclusive quarterly reporting of Abacus Consumer Co-op data, the Quarterly Catalog Success/Abacus Consumer Co-op Data Report.
When catalogers and retailers first started to go multichannel, they believed Web-based self-service would be significantly more cost efficient than fielding a full operation of customer service reps at terminals. Over the long haul, they reasoned, humans are more expensive than machines. But like the benefits of the paperless office, many call-center payroll reductions have been elusive.
Certainly you’ve heard this before: The experts strongly urge you to “break down those silos” in your organization. But I’m now wondering whether that’s such a hot idea after all.
Problem: Eastwood, a catalog/multichannel retailer of tools and supplies for customizing and restoring motor vehicles, sought to drive greater revenue and profits via e-mail marketing while reducing costs.
For this very special report, we chose what we believe to be the three most crucial and timely and important topics in operations and fulfillment for multichannel merchants today.
"Are consumers afraid to spend, or just broke?” So asked the heading of a recent New York Times letter to the editor. If your business is still struggling to overcome the disaster that was last year — one of the worst economic meltdowns in living memory — you need to focus even more on restructuring, cutting costs and, yes, laying people off if you want to recover and survive.
It's time to think bigger and better: bigger savings, bigger efficiencies, better negotiations. Dispose of the status quo. The print environment is changing and so, in turn, must your catalog production cost-cutting efforts.