Sunday, 9 June 2013

Home Leisure Direct wins Direct Commerce Readers' Choice Award

As part of the ECMOD annual celebration of excellence, the Direct Commerce Readers’ Choice trophy is given to companies that have demonstrated an affinity with their customers and the wider sector.

It is awarded for continuous innovation and customer service and this year is a fitting tribute to the commitment of the team at Home Leisure Direct, which received comments like “great branding”, “sophisticated website” and “super-clear communications”.

Bristol-based Home Leisure Direct was selected as a business which innovates, inspires and consistently delivers exceptional service, making it one of the most sought-after accolades of the ceremony. Watch the video below to see the Home Leisure Direct team pick up their trophy at this year's venda-ecmod awards, which took place at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club on 18th April.

Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Michelle and Andy Beresford, the idea for Home Leisure Direct came after they spotted a gap in the UK market for style-conscious customers who wanted to create games rooms in their own homes.

The duo instantly set about sourcing what has now become the largest selection of games room equipment in Europe. From their humble beginnings with a small home office and an old computer, 2012 saw the business move into a large showroom in Elberton, where it now employs six staff. Last year also saw the company undergo a rebrand and launch a new version of the website, a dedicated mobile site, Home Leisure TV and a raft of behind-the-scenes improvements to enhance the customer experience with the help of digital agency Bluebox.

With customers all across the UK and Europe, the Beresfords have seen their business go from strength to strength. The website has been a consistent success and since 2008 turnover has increased by more than 1,300 percent. What’s more, sales this year have risen 34 percent despite the much-publicised tough trading conditions. These achievements are testament to the passion and commitment of the entire Home Leisure team, its suppliers and of course, its customers.--MT

The Direct Commerce Readers Choice award was sponsored by Sanderson

Thursday, 6 June 2013

May Catalogue Log

May 2013 represents the fifth consecutive month to show a decline in the number of catalogues promoting a sale or discount. Of the 86 catalogues we logged last month, only 23 (26.7 percent) featured a price promotion on the front page, compared with 33.6 percent in April 2013 and a whopping 50 percent in May 2012.

Discounts take a dive in May
At the same time, the popularity of free delivery continues. Eighteen out of the 86 catalogues (20.9 percent) offered free shipping—closing the gap between the two most popular offers we track. While that percentage is slightly down on April (23.5 percent), it’s more or less in line with May last year (21.2 percent).  Among the catalogues offering free delivery were Atterley Road, Great Plains, Joe Browns and Patra—and all did so without teaming up free p&p with a discount.

Discussing the issue with colleagues, we believe the continued decline of discounting in favour of offers like free shipping is down to cataloguers seeking to avoid devaluing their brand. With discounts so prevalent last year, perhaps some cataloguers are coming to realise that it’s not a race to the bottom. Offering money off trains consumers to expect to pay a certain price—and no more. Free shipping on the other hand, while still a burden on profits, does not cast the same shadow about how much goods are worth.

Only 7 percent of the catalogues we logged in May offered a free gift with purchase, compared with 8.8 percent last May and 10.9 percent in April 13. Usually the preserve of b-to-b cataloguers and gardening brands, last month we also tallied offers from apparel retailers; among them Witt, Seasalt and Madeleine Fashion.

Another decline we’ve tracked is the overall volume of catalogues we’ve received. At 86, May’s haul is the smallest of 2013 to date and down by a quarter on this time last year. Again, I feel this might be due to cataloguers keeping a close eye on mailing costs and removing unprofitable prospects from their lists. Saying that, we logged 119 catalogues in April 2013—28 percent more than the comparable month last year—so maybe the decline is more a seasonal choice than anything else. --MT

If you’d like to have your catalogue featured in the Catalogue Log, please send it to
Catalogue Log
c/o Direct Commerce
First Floor Offices
155 High Street
EX34 9EZ

Friday, 31 May 2013

In the Mail - May

It’s the last day of May, so we’ve taken this opportunity to take a look back at the catalogues we’ve received during the month to pick out three that stood out.

Capability’s Essentials

Format: 265mm x 200mm, 60pp, order form on inside back cover
Special offer on the cover: no
Range: “unusual, practical and fun” gifts and gadgets
Delivery: £4.99 standard, additional charge
Why I picked it: this is a revamped Essentials by Post catalogue from the folks at Presents for Men. Named after the famed English landscape artist Capability Brown, the catalogue looks to target to likeminded garden lovers with practical items like knee pads, thorn protection gloves and “barrow boosters”, though it has plenty for those who aren't as green-thumbed. With a more unisex appeal than its sister titles Presents for Men and Gifts for the Girls, the website suggests this will become an umbrella catalogue, incorporating items from across the full range. We can certainly see it working as a prospecting catalogue for new or lapsed customers to (re)introduce them to the brand before targeting them more closely with its specialist titles.
What’s missing: The cover could do with a special offer and maybe some product shots to entice people to take a look inside.

Format: 147mm x 209mm, 20pp, order form on inside back cover
Special offer on the cover: 15% off
Range: “fashion with hidden technology”
Delivery: catalogue has not published delivery charges
Why I picked it: although I’d heard of the brand, this is the first print catalogue I’ve received from HotSquash. Not just the preserve of base-layer wearing joggers, HotSquash’s thermal/cooling fabrics are for wearing all day long. The product photography is excellent and the range broad enough to warrant several flicks though. The catalogue definitely succeeds in making me want to find out more about the technology in the clothes—and see more of the range online. Another plus—the clothes are designed and made in Britain.
What’s missing: The product copy is sparse and there is no size guide or delivery costs.

I Love Gorgeous
Format: 235mm x 165mm, 40pp, how to order information on inside back cover
Special offer on the cover: free p&p and returns with a customer’s first order
Range: “beautiful clothes for gorgeous girls”
Delivery: £4.50 standard, £6.95 for UK express, £15 for same-day delivery for customers living within the M25
Why I picked it: the I Love Gorgeous catalogue lives up to its name with adorable outfits for girls. The catalogue follows many industry best practices by including a size guide, delivery costs, information on returns and gift wrapping, as well as an incentive to sign up to its newsletter and receive a special discount. Top marks.
What’s missing: Because of the paper stock, it can be difficult to see the detailing on some of the items. --MT

Want to have your catalogue considered for our In the Mail column. Post it to
Catalogue Log
Direct Commerce
First Floor Offices, 155 High St
Ilfracombe, Devon
EX34 9EZ

Friday, 24 May 2013

Email we love: Feelunique

How’s this for a really clever—and sensible—use of technology? I placed an order with beauty products etailer Feelunique and instantly received an order confirmation email. So far, so standard.

A couple of days later my order was delivered and signed for by my boyfriend while I was not at home. I received an email just two hours later: “your recent order was successfully delivered to you at 11:48 today & was signed for by…” followed by a screenshot of my boyfriend’s autograph. Nifty, eh?—MT

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Catalogue we love: George

Heading straight to the top of the class is George with its second-ever catalogue.

Received towards the end of April, the catalogue adheres to several best-practice guidelines.

The bright and inviting front cover highlights clear benefits of shopping with George, such as free delivery to store and an “exclusive” discount.

The back cover repeats the discount and features a call to action to check out the website for “even more”.

Inside, page 3 does a great job of advising customers how they can shop and further promotes the discount, while the rest of the catalogue uses QR codes, celebrity style ideas and cross-selling tactics to engage with customers.

My only criticism is that at only 16 pages, it left me wanting more. —MT

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

April Catalogue Log

Bodie and Fou
After four months of heavy discounting, April’s haul of catalogues was a lot less promotional. We logged 119 catalogues in April 2013—a 28 percent increase on April 2012. However, whereas last April saw 63 percent of catalogues feature some sort of special offer on the cover, this year only 54 percent did so.

At individual-offer level, the biggest recorded decline came in the number of catalogues that promoted a sale or discount. In April 2012, 40.9 percent of the catalogues we tracked did so. March 2013 saw a similar level of discounting—41.3 percent of covers. Last month, that dropped to 33.6 percent, the lowest level since November 2012.

Among those using special-price promotions was the spring/summer Bodie and Fou catalogue, which offered customers 15 percent off when they spent £100 or more. Furniture retailer Myakka promised customers 12 percent off their first order, while living-aids catalogue Elderberry encouraged customers to shop and save 10 percent on orders of £45 or more.

Twenty-eight of the catalogues we received in April (23.5 percent) made mention on free shipping on the cover. That’s marginally down on March 2013, but in line with the far more promotional April 2012, proving once again that free delivery is become ever more popular with cataloguers. Of those 28 catalogues, many teamed up free p&p with another offer—a tactic popular among apparel catalogues Gray & Osbourn (20 percent off plus free postage and returns), Figleaves (10 percent off plus free delivery and returns) and Boden (15 percent off plus free delivery and returns), for example.  Those that elected to use free shipping as a solo offer to tempt customers were predominantly b-to-b cataloguers such as Toolstation, Nisbets and Viking

April Offers Chart

Free gifts were less popular in April 2013 than they were at the same time last year. They were also less popular than in March 2013. Just 13 catalogue covers of the 119 we logged last month offered a freebie with purchase—that’s just 10.9 percent. However, putting it into a wider context, 10.9 percent is quite high when you consider that the average for the whole of 2012 was just 7.9 percent.

Looking at the data, free gifts are most popular during March, April, May and August. My theory is that those are prime mailing times for gardening and business-to-business catalogues, which tend to be the most prevalent users of free gift promotions.

On a side note; have you picked up your copy of the Abacus Trends Report yet? The third Annual Trends Report from Abacus is the data cooperative’s most comprehensive to date. This new-look edition features the home shopping revenue trends and mailing volumes of 2012—and makes reference to our very own Catalogue Log data. In addition, it includes interviews with key industry figures including Rosemary Stockdale of Sterling Marketing, More2’s Kevin McSpadden and Direct Commerce editorial director Miri Thomas. Download your copy on the Abacus website.--MT

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Venda-ECMOD Awards Highlights Video

If your memory of the venda-ecmod awards 2013 is a little hazy, you might want to check out this video.

Held at Chelsea Football Club on 18th April, the venda-ecmod awards recognise the hard work, flair and commitment of businesses in the catalogue and multichannel retail sector. With categories designed for those targeting sales to businesses as well as for those selling to consumers, these awards also seek to celebrate the achievements of businesses of all scales and at all stages of development.

Recapping the highlights from the night, including backstage interviews with the delighted winners, this video catches up with our sector’s very own champions.--MT

Congratulations winners!