5 Ways to Capitalize on the Falling Retail Market
Special note: This will be my final online column for CatalogSuccess.com. Beginning with the July issue of our relaunched magazine, All About ROI, I'll be writing the new On the Web column in the print edition on a bimonthly basis, rotating with Larry Kavanagh of DMinSite. I'm also pleased to announce that Kevin Hillstrom, president of MineThatData, a database marketing consultancy, will be starting his own Web column on integrated database marketing when CatalogSuccess.com morphs into AllAboutROImag.com in June.
In last week's column, I talked about the cost fixation I see going on in our industry. While controlling costs is always important, it should never have to be a full-time job like new product/offer development and increasing sales.
This week I want to give you some ways to increase sales, as well as some broad context that'll help keep you focused on the forest and not just the trees. Overall, brick-and-mortar retail is suffering a lot more than direct. Your retail brethren don't enjoy the same flexibility that you have to shift marketing strategies, products, services, offers, selling tactics, among other things. Specifically, I'd like you to think about how and where you compete with retailers, and what tactics to employ now.
1. Retailers are closing locations. Are you picking up disenfranchised customers by mailing into those areas?
2. Retailers are cutting staff, resulting in falling service levels. Are your telephone service reps providing better service? Are you promoting that?
3. Retailers are cutting inventory and product selection. Direct marketers’ centralized inventory naturally affords them the ability to offer more selection (colors, sizes, niche products, etc.). Are you merchandising that?
4. Retailers are going out of business. Are you offering to service customers who may be affected? Try offering to honor their coupons, gift cards and warranties. By offering some residual value to affected customers, you can induce them to order, experience your service and become new customers.
5. Retailers are getting less store traffic. Savvy shoppers are buying online, saving the gas of going to the mall. Are you promoting the positive green message of shopping via catalog and online?
Times are tough. There's no arguing that, but there are still many opportunities for catalog/multichannel marketers as the overall retail market adjusts to today's economic realities. Smart marketers see opportunity in change and pain. Do you?
Terence Jukes is president of Ability Commerce, a 140-person firm that designs, builds and runs e-commerce and related marketing programs for catalog companies. He can be reached at TerryJ@AbilityCommerce.com.