December 2006 Issue


2007 Buyers’ Resource Guide

Welcome to the fourth-annual Catalog Success Buyers’ Resource Guide. Inside, you’ll find all the key details you need on product and service providers to the catalog/e-commerce/multichannel marketing industry. * Please check the site again in a few weeks for an interactive, fully searchable version of the 2007 Buyers’ Resource Guide. In the meantime, check out a PDF version of the Category Listings in the upper right-hand corner, under “Related Content.” Having spent the better part of the past year gathering the information contained in this guide, the editors of Catalog Success invited suppliers throughout the industry to submit information for free

A VoIP Alternative

One of the benefits of VoIP is scalability, that is, the ability to add CSRs without having to install extra phone lines. Multichannel merchants 1-800-FlOWERS.COM and Vermont Teddy Bear have dealt with issues of seasonal scalability by working with Golden, Colo.-based Alpine Access, a provider of home-based CSRs. Vermont Teddy Bear, for instance, finds that its sales spikes come around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, with each holiday rush lasting only about two weeks. While Chris Powell, contact center manager at the Shelburne, Vt.-based gift merchant, triples his in-house staff during this time, he still needs more reps to answer phones, especially as radio ads

B-to-B Cataloging: Are You Right Sized?

Not long ago, an art director for a “big book” cataloger asked me to critique her work, a catalog the size of a large metropolitan phone directory. Paging through, I asked what kind of sales analysis was performed on the merchandise, because the catalog promoted more than 30,000 unique SKUs. She replied none. The marketing department couldn’t hire more staff, and no one had time. Urging her to do something about that, I warned her that her company could end up building a new warehouse to store a lot of SKUs that aren’t selling. She reached toward me, gripped the catalog in her right

Catalog Success 2006 Article Index

Below, our annual index of all stories that appeared in Catalog Success throughout 2006, including this issue. (For easy reference, use the print screen.) Cataloger Profiles Cover Stories United Receptacle: “B-to-B Goes ‘Plug and Play’” by Alicia Orr Suman, January Reiman Publications: “The Synergistic Approach” by Alicia Orr Suman, February Boston Proper: “Billion-Dollar Opportunity” by Donna Loyle, May Spiegel Brands: “How Spiegel Recovered” by Paul Miller, June Smarthome Direct: “Growth the Smart Way” by Matt Griffin, July J&L Industrial Supply: “Shaped Up, Shipped Out” by Paul Miller, August Northern Safety Co.: “Safely Ahead of the Game” by Matt Griffin, September AmeriMark Direct: “Steady

Contributions to Profit: Plan for 2007, Part III

Editor’s note: This will be Jim’s final Contributions to Profit column. In October, launched his blog, Profitable Cataloging. He posts a new entry every Tuesday, and based on reader comments, responds throughout the week. Visit, and post your questions or comments about catalog marketing. In addition to being my final print column, this also is the third in a three-part series on the hierarchy of customer status. A quick review: I’ve defined the behavioral groupings of prospects and customers as suspects, prospects, triers, buyers and advocates. Then I discussed strategies to turn prospects into single buyers (triers). Now, onto the next step: conversion. 1.

Customer Retention: Keep ’Em And Hold ’Em

Beyond death, taxes and postal rate hikes, most catalogers’ primary worry in life is retaining customers. Aside from continuously offering appealing products and services, there are a number of effective approaches you need to take to keep your customers happy and doing repeat business with you. Naturally, the question is, “What methods can I try that I haven’t already tried 10 times?” For a few possible answers and techniques for you to test in different departments, consider the strategies offered by several catalog experts. Customer Service Good customer service starts with the first interaction you have with customers. And if your call center

E-commerce Insights: The Online Retail 2.0 Ideas Tour

The Web is an essential channel for catalogers. Customers expect catalog companies to have effective, well-designed e-commerce sites. The Internet is undergoing a period of rapid innovation, often labeled “Web 2.0.” It includes tagging, visual search, wikis and Ajax. Web 2.0 technologies will transform online retail over the next two years. Catalogers will need to upgrade their sites to remain competitive. I suggest you read this month’s column with a computer close by — as I’ll tour some Online Retail 2.0 ideas that will transform e-commerce. The first stop is, the social tagging site. (Go to, and you’ll find a

Editor’s Take: Lobbying

I recall watching a TV sketch more than 20 years ago in which Bette Midler depicted this mopey, depressed woman whose reaction to just about all situations in life was (in the character’s whiney, Noo Yawk accent), “Why bothuh?” Performed solo, the skit and her character were at the same time hilarious and chilling. When I think of lobbying for key catalog legislative issues — namely, postal reform and privacy — that character often creeps into my mind. Postal is perhaps the more pressing of the two concerns for catalogers. Since the first postal reform bill was introduced more than a decade ago, the Direct

Expand Your Call Center Universe

As the holiday season orders pour in, catalogers at this time of year find themselves seeking ways to maximize the use of their contact centers. One potential solution for peak ordering periods worth considering is voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), which enables catalogers to increase the size of the contact center at will, or even hire additional reps to work from their homes, when physical space in their existing contact center runs tight. VoIP allows contact center managers to deliver both phone service and broadband Internet connectivity to customer service reps (CSRs) along the same connection. Voice and data both are converted to packets of

Industry Eye

Quebecor to Shutter Two Catalog Printing Plants Catalog printer Quebecor World announced in November it would close two catalog printing facilities in 2007. The closures are part of an overall restructuring plan and will eliminate about 400 jobs next year. The company will shut down a printing facility in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and a bindery facility in Bensenville, Ill., during the first quarter. Quebecor expects to create 75 positions at its other facilities to accommodate additional volume. As part of the restructuring, the printer will invest in new press and bindery equipment. People on the Move The Sharper Image: Jerry Levin

Retention and Reactivation Tips

Looking for fresh ways to get existing customers to buy again sooner or dormant customers to come back? Consider the following tips from Gina Valentino, president of Hemisphere Marketing, a Kansas City, Mo.-based catalog consultancy. Immediately follow up with new customers. Thank customers and keep your company at the top of their minds by sending a short e-mail thanking them for their orders, Valentino says. Or try what The Territory Ahead catalog does: The apparel mailer sends postcards containing coupons to new customers. Valentino cautions that coupons shouldn’t be channel-specific, i.e., they should be usable on all channels (Web, phone or at retail). Focus

Strategy: Find the Right Lists

Assuming you have the right merchandise, 70 percent or more of a successful mailing campaign is dependent on the lists you use. Proper list selection means the difference between profits or losses on the income statement. This includes the proper use of your housefile and the outside rented lists you use. The specific lists you mail and the quantities of every list included in your plan are important considerations. I will talk about the different types of lists available and what you can do to improve your results. All mailing lists can be classified into three different types: 1. Direct response lists.