February 2006 Issue


A Burdensome Plan

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSTA), in the planning stages for many years, finally went into effect on Oct. 1, 2005. So far, it’s a voluntary program in which remote sellers collect state and local sales taxes and remit them to the jurisdictions in which their buyers reside. As you know, merchants currently are required to collect state and local taxes only if they have nexus (a physical presence such as a store or headquarters) in the state. Consumers are expected to pay sales taxes on their online and catalog purchases. Of course, most don’t bother or don’t know it’s required. As

A Chat With Sue Landay, President, Trainer’s Warehouse

© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, February 2006 Catalog Success: When was the catalog established? Sue Landay: The business was started in 1993 and our first catalog was in 1994. It was a two-color catalog. CS: Where are your headquarters? SL: Natick, Mass. About 20 miles west of Boston. CS: What is your primary merchandise? SL: We have unusual tools and toys for classroom teachers and trainers. For example, beyond what you might expect such as easels and markers, we have reusable name cards. We have signs for the classroom, such as “Cell Phones Irritate Learning,” and other funny, off-the-wall signs. We have

A Synergistic Approach

Reiman Publications uses both catalogs and magazines to expertly serve its loyal base of rural consumers. When the editors of Farm Wife News started producing T-shirts with slogans such as, “I’m proud to be a Farm Wife,” for their readers back in the early 1970s, they didn’t know that offshoot merchandise would launch a catalog business. A few years later, Country Store catalog was born, filling a niche in the rural marketplace. Ann Kaiser, managing editor of Taste of Home and editor of Country Woman magazine, was with the company 34 years ago when the catalog concept first was developed at Reiman Publications. She

Build a Collaborative Relationship With Your Printer

Your relationship with your print suppliers should be strong and cohesive. After all, your printer may be your largest vendor in terms of dollars spent annually. Your printer is important to your business, and you should view it as your company’s business partner. When deciding on a printer, price certainly is important. No direct marketer should pay a large premium for the privilege of dealing with a particular printing company. But there are other factors, such as service, lead times and technology, that should be taken into consideration. In this article, I’ll offer tips for maximizing your relationship with your printer.

Chronicles: Test Your Way to a Winning Catalog Cover

Testing front covers is one of the easiest and most important tests catalogers can do. Front covers are the doorway into your catalog, so your cover must entice customers to open the door and step through into the wonderful world inside. Testing will help you learn what it takes to get your customers to open that door more often. “Copy destroys the graphic integrity of my cover design.” Magazine designers love a lot of copy on the front cover, but catalog designers hate it. “I’ve been designing catalogs for years. Trust me, I know what sells,” said Maurice, the catalog designer. “All those words

E-commerce Insights: 19 Ways to Suppress Online Sales

Following are a few tactics that can torpedo your online conversion rate and impede your Web sales in 2006. (P.S.: If you’re not heeding the following advice, congratulations!) 1. Make customers work to purchase. Be sure users have to learn how to use your site. This is the best way to get them to concentrate and forget about competitors who are just a click away. Ignore the accepted conventions of industry leaders and frequently change layouts throughout your site to increase “shopping suspense.” 2. Design by committee. Let a group of senior executives design your homepage — or you can let your CEO

Strategy: When Prospects Aren’t Buying

What to do about declining results to prospect lists. Response rates to outside prospect lists have been on the decline, and last year was no exception. In some cases, results to tried-and-true continuation lists are off by as much as 50 percent. This isn’t a trend that’s likely to reverse itself anytime soon. This month, I’ll look at some reasons why response rates have declined and what you can do to compensate. Why Prospect Lists Trend Down Response rates to prospect lists have declined for several reasons: unseasonably warm weather during this past fall and holiday buying season, large amounts of consumer debt

The Drill Down

How your operations and marketing efforts can benefit from statistical analysis and modeling. Forgive me if I generalize for a minute. There are two approaches to marketing analysis: the arithmetic and the statistical. The Arithmetic Approach Sometimes called “descriptive analytics,” this is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, depending on a spreadsheet and the sweat of your brow. Extracting a season’s sales from your transaction system to your spreadsheet, you can determine the following: - percent response, by dividing your number of orders by your mail quantity per segment; - average order value, by dividing your gross sales by your number of orders per segment; -

Trim Costs After the Postal Rate Increase

From improved data hygiene practices to a better print contract, a little savings here and there really can add up. Last month’s postal rate increase of 5.4 percent should have caught no one by surprise. If you’re looking for ways to save on other parts of your operation in order to pay for your higher postal bill, you’ll find many options. In the first part of this article, you’ll learn about list hygiene tools that aren’t just important to offsetting the postal rate increase, but are good strategies to keep your housefile healthy and responsive. In the second part, we’ll offer tips and caveats