While direct marketers and their suppliers have been preaching multichannel retailing for years, there's been a singular lack of attention given to back-end operations designed to support this new and more complex retailing environment.
A lot has certainly changed in a year. Following a dismal 2009, stock valuations at FedEx and UPS are approaching 2008 highs. Given the current environment, it's hard to remember that only a year ago FedEx froze bonuses and management salaries, rationalized networks, and suspended 401K contributions along with other measures to control costs.
As is my custom here in this space, I like to bring to light retail experiences that either are worthy of praise or derision. Unfortunately for cross-channel women's apparel retailer New York & Co., this post falls into the latter category. The source for nearly all of my retail stories, my wife Stephanie, brought to my attention this latest incident involving her sister Christine and New York & Company.
I don’t know how much more I can do or say about the U.S. Postal Service and its stupidity. I've made all kinds of suggestions on how it can increase its revenues, incentivize companies to try mail and win back customers who have abandoned the channel. I even wrote a fake testimonial letter from an online marketing company thanking the USPS for helping it build their business. And yet the madness continues.
Direct marketers aren't getting slammed with another 5 percent-plus postage rate increase in January. Big whoop-de-doo. Postage is still the biggest expense in all my clients’ mail campaigns. And the cost of mailing vs. the risk of the unknown is still the biggest reason marketers shy away from the direct mail channel.
As an online marketer, I want to thank Mr. Postmaster General and the honorable members of the Postal Regulatory Commission. I cannot wait until you raise postage rates come January. Now some people may not agree with me, but I applaud your efforts to consistently raise postage rates.
Claims that have been made about direct mail’s impact on the environment have been uniformly negative, with a significant level of misinformation. In fact, the reality is that the mailing industry, through its investments in programs and initiatives to address and further reduce the environmental impact associated with all six lifecycle stages of letter mail, deserves some recognition for its efforts.
Many B-to-B marketers are doing everything they can to “go green” these days, certainly the wise thing to do. Thinking green can help save money in these tough times and position your brand with your customers in a favorable light. With privacy, identity theft and the perception of “junk mail/catalogs” all being hot issues in the marketplace, everything we do as B-to-B mailers helps reinforce our positive position.
Merely going green isn’t enough, however. Find ways to communicate with your customers what you’re doing so they “get it.” Make sure your mailings are up-to-date and relevant. For instance, do you allow customers to set
If you don’t know it yet, the U.S. Postal Service, that wonderfully efficient government-sanctioned monopoly we all know and “love,” is planning to raise our postal rates again in 2008. Many still are trying to recover from the devastating blow it dealt us in May of this year. Now it wants to hit us again. To me, this is inconceivable and just plain deadly stupid. But then again, that’s what you get when you let big government run commerce.
I’m not here to bash our government, or even the USPS, but we need to scream, not whisper, for the next rate case