Monday, 30 March 2009

Back to school for Bert’s Nurseries

This gardening minilogue dropped with a recent mailer from one of the Littlewoods family of catalogues. We know little else about it.
We like its timeliness. It is obviously capitalising on the current renaissance in gardening and trying to extend Shop Direct’s reach into a new product sector. We don’t like its frivolous use of apostrophes, excruciating typos and poor grammar. Here are some of the mistakes we picked up, verbatim, whilst casually leafing through the catalogue’s 16 pages:

  • Aloe Vera Known as the ‘medicine plant’ due to it’s healing powers

  • Lysimacha is excellant for moist area’s and pondsides.

  • Also known as “Heavenly bamboo’ this shrub is prized for it’s oriental effect and distinctive lacy foliage.

  • Also known as “Juneberry’ this decidous shrub puts on a show for most of the year, stary white flowers bloom in dense clusters in strong contrast with the young coppery foliage in March, turning green in Summer it will be smothered in dark red edible berries.

  • Ideal for in your Summer baskets or planters, these fine Fuchsia’s will flower all Summer.

As the copy is that bad, is it any wonder that Bert’s Nurseries “forgot” to add the web address to the footer of each page?—MT

Friday, 27 March 2009

How Howies does it

What I like about this email from apparel brand Howies is how it puts a positive spin on what has apparently been a slow time for the business: "The boys (Tidy Mike, Paul and Tom) in the Printshop are a little quiet. The good weather has sent people rushing outside to enjoy the best two weeks of sun we've had in ages, so they've been catching up on every new YouTube skateboarding edit that's been released in the last few weeks. Now they've seen them all, they want some work to do, so they came up with this idea..." The idea is to give away a T-shirt with every order of at least £100.

I like it so much that I'll even refrain from pointing out the typo in the third paragraph.--SC

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Win some, lose (loose?) some

This promotional email from bedroom specialist Feather & Black first got our attention by tying in to neither Mother's Day nor Easter but instead to the changing of the clocks on Sunday. It may seem a novel occasion for a promotion, but for a bedding merchant it certainly makes sense; who among us doesn't mourn losing that hour of sleep, even though the result is additional daylight?

Unfortunately a few other aspects of the email caught our eye as well: I, for one, won't "loose an hours sleep"; I will, however, "lose an hour's sleep". I'll assume someone was a bit sleepy when proofreading the copy for the email.--SC

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Your retailer needs you!

This will be the second time in a month that White Stuff is the topic of a blog post. And whilst I don’t want Catablogue e-business to be accused of favouritism, White Stuff clearly deserves a pat on the back for another excellent idea and cleverly executed creative.
“Women (and men) of Britain* - shop for Victory with the White Stuff Ration Book!” began an email titled Beat the Blitz. (The asterisk, if you’re wondering, was explained in the footer of the email—“We even deliver overseas”.)
It went on to explain that with every purchase made online or in-store customers would receive a free “ration book” packed with discounts and special offers from White Stuff’s partners to help customers get through the current recession. Not only that but White Stuff’s very own “land girls” Ivy and Lil (“who quite frankly have ‘been there, done that’ and are wondering what all the fuss is about”) dispense advice on how to “make do and mend, entertain the troops and beautify on a budget”. The ration book concept is well thought through too—customers can collect stamps throughout April, May and June to qualify for money off at White Stuff.
With the current talk of recession, deflation et al, it’s refreshing to receive such a clever, upbeat email full of fighting spirit. Good work, White Stuff. At ease. --MT

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Carbon copy

Retailers know that promoting their green credentials appeals to today’s environmentally conscious consumers. And we expect that’s why BrightMinds sent an email to its customers letting them know that the spring catalogue is available as a carbon-neutral online edition. But it looks like someone forgot to tell BrightMinds that you can’t recycle everything—the director's letter on page 2 still says “Welcome to the Christmas 2008 edition”.—MT

Say what?

I really wanted to include an item about the launch of as part of today's Catalogue e-business News Roundup. But I couldn't, because the press release was impenetrable.

The first sentence of the release, verbatim: "Becky Hawksworth, Founder of The Organika group announed the groups launch of it's first interactive website" That's cut-and-pasted directly from the release--I did not introduce any of the typos.

Just as damning as the illiteracy of the prose is the lack of information. Who or what is the Organika Group? Does it have stores? Did it exist prior to the launch of this website?

Then, near the end of the release (again, cut-and-pasted directly from the document itself): "In the next coupleof weeks Organikas' other complimentary web stores will be 'live'

"Ethical Fashion has moved to

"Cosmetics is at

"and the largest selection of Organic Wines in the WORLD!! at".

Are these new businesses? Existing entities with a bricks-and-mortar presence?

Sorry if this seems harsh. But if your press release isn't going to release to the press the basic information they need--who, what, where, when--in an easily understandable format, then the time and money spent on it is simply wasted, my friend.--SC

Monday, 23 March 2009

Royal silliness

That bastion of morality, News of the World, is accusing cataloguer Party Pieces of cashing in on Kate Middleton’s relationship with Prince William to promote its princess-themed party accessories. Middleton, the girlfriend of the prince, is also the daughter of Party Pieces founders Michael and Carole Middleton.

According to the newspaper, "Kate’s well-known face is plastered on a website and glossy brochure pushing EIGHTY-FOUR princess-theme products—from tiaras and dresses to wands and fairytale stagecoaches." I found just one photo of Kate, in which she poses alongside two other Party Pieces staff and isn't even identified by name. Nor does she appear anywhere among the photos of the princess-related products--and never mind that it’s all but impossible to run a successful party business without offering princess-theme goodies for little girls. (Trust me on this--I'm the mum of a nine-year-old daughter who has thankfully outgrown her princess stage.)

Even the News of the World's readers think that the newspaper is making "another mountain out of a molehill", to quote one of the comments on its website. Never mind: It is only News of the World, after all.--SC

Friday, 20 March 2009

Missing a trick—part two

I got a bit of grief from my colleagues for my last post. “He’s just a dog,” they scoffed. “You don’t need 360-degree views of a dog bed… You’re asking for too much…” But they were missing the point—I don’t want the moon on a stick, I just want to get offers specific to me. I want to know why I should buy the expensive nail clippers over the cheap ones and a link to the page on the site where I could browse the entire range. To further add to my despair, yesterday I got an email from one etailer promoting kitty litter. It was then that someone introduced me to the website of Doctors Foster and Smith a business founded by two former vets. I finally found a site that did everything right—they even had a new-puppy section where I could sign up to a special email that focused exclusively on puppies and featured advice, tips and products tailored to my dog’s age and breed. Hurrah!
Just a shame that they are based 3,712 miles away in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. That’s a bit too far to go for kibble, isn’t it? --MT

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The mysteries of Temps L

A Temps L catalogue crossed my desk for the first time this week; leafing through it and drilling through its website raised more questions than it answered.

1) What does "Temps L" mean? According to my schoolgirl French, it translates to "L Time". Um, okay?

2) Who are they? The website has no "About Us" (tsk, tsk), and apparently "Who are you?" is not a frequently asked question, judging from the FAQs page. According to the website's "legal notice", Temps L is owned by a French company, Domoti SOS, but that's all it says.

3) Is anyone really so desperate to get rid of cats and dogs in their garden that they'd scent their property with eau de skunk? Temps L sells Skunk Shot Repellent, a liquid that "reproduces the odour produced by the skunk to ward off attackers". And it's not a version of the smell that only dogs and cats can smell: "Beware: Under no circumstances should you use or even open this very special repellent indoors," warns the product copy. I used to live in a neighborhood much-beloved by skunks; many was the spring and summer evening when we had to close all our windows to stave off their stink. Give me a bit of dog poo or cat pee on my lawn any day.--SC

Three cheers!

Congrats to my alma mater Chief Marketer back in the States for winning a min award for best site design/relaunch. When we launched Chief Marketer a few years back it was just a weekly enewsletter aggregating the best of the company's other publications, with a bit of commentary from yours truly (and that was only because I was the lone sucker--err, loyal employee--to volunteer to produce the thing). It has since grown to become a network that includes the Big Fat Marketing Blog, which also won a min award, for best b-to-b blog. Kudos!

And kudos, too, to my colleagues across the road at Catalogue Exchange for the relaunch this week of The new, improved website offers member news, forums, a supplier directory, and much more. If you're not familiar with Catalogue Exchange, "the only trade group for print and online catalogue marketers", you should definitely check it out and consider joining--benefits included discounts on industry events, group-buying arrangements, and (best of all, in my humble opinion) a complimentary subscription to Catalogue e-business magazine.--SC

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Missing a trick

In January I became a dog owner. As it’s the first time I’ve ever owned a puppy I signed myself up to as many pet supplies enewsletters as I could find. And being rather “green” at this puppy lark I was particularly open to offers, advice and information from specialist retailers and dog experts. I was disappointed with what was presented to me.

I was unimpressed to find just one page of pet supplies on Catalink, and some of the catalogues featured weren’t that relevant anyway. Ditto iPoints, which had some great offers on pet insurance, but only two pet supplies retailers signed up to its scheme.

Pet supplies retailers are also missing a trick with product despatch. So far I’ve ordered from two different stores and neither put special-offer leaflets in my parcel. I didn’t get a catalogue or a free sample or even any third-party inserts for related items from other retailers. So tell me, why should I come back?

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Some of the websites I’ve looked at do have lots of information but I have to dig deep to find what I am looking for and it's not presented in the most user-friendly way. The enewsletters I’ve received since January do a basic job of putting product in front of me but I am not getting “added value”—a factor so often talked about by email marketing gurus. I want a bit of hand-holding. I want to feel reassured. I want some more social-media elements in the emails—reviews, links to videos, how-to guides, buyers' guides, ask the expert features, tips, health advice, competitions… I want the retailer to know I own a young dog and I want offers to suit my requirements. In short I guess I want to be treated as a new parent.

Maybe I just haven’t been signing up to the right enewsletters or buying from the right shops. Go ahead, prove me wrong: show me that there are some truly engaging pet supplies catalogues and enewsletters out there and earn a ticket out of the dog house.—MT

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Bad news, good news

A Stateside cataloguer/retailer, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, is offering a silver lining of sorts to customers suffering under the black cloud of redundancies: the Risk-Free Suit. As it explains on its website, "If you buy a suit from Jos. A. Bank during our $199 Sale from March 16, 2009, through April 9, 2009, and you lose your job during the period from April 16, 2009, through July 1, 2009, Jos. A. Bank will rebate the price you paid for the suit, up to a maximum of $199, and you may keep the suit."

This sort of promo could easily be extended over here, and not just for apparel merchants. "Buy a sofa in April, and if your house is repossessed in May, we'll rebate you £199 and let you keep the sofa--even though you'll no longer have a place to put it." Hmmm... needs a bit of a rethink.--SC

Monday, 16 March 2009

Scare tactic of the week

In a recession, desire isn't necessarily the best driver of sales. For sellers of workplace supplies, that's especially true. But fear is always a great motivator. Hence this email from Slingsby. "It's time to secure the premises," declares the headline. The copy proceeds to cite dire predictions of an increase in theft due to the worsening economy. What's a business to do? Why, buy security systems, cages, and cashboxes from Slingsby, of course. Who says the downturn is bad for everyone's business?--SC

3D Secure—all smoke and mirrors?

3D Secure, a scheme developed by Visa and Mastercard to reduce the incidence of unauthorised and fraudulent use of cards online, is technically already mandatory for online merchants accepting Maestro payments. With the original deadline given as 30th June 2007, CataBLOGue e-business knows of at least three merchants who have still not switched 3D Secure on at their online shops. And as it appears that so little “official” information is available for merchants to help them understand the scheme, is it any wonder that many are asking what’s in it for them?

In an upcoming issue of Catalogue e-business we will explore the topic of 3D Secure and attempt to uncover the facts behind the waffle. We hope to bring you answers to questions such as: What is the official and final deadline for implementing 3D Secure? What happens in the days and weeks following the deadline for those who still eschew the scheme? Will penalties be levied and if so how much?

If you have questions about 3D Secure, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Even better if you can provide some answers! You can contact us via the blog or email –MT

The Apple of the my eye

The motherboard of my HP laptop having deserted the ship after less than two years, I decided to spend the extra money and return to my first computer love, a Mac. I order a MacBook from the Apple Store in what was one of the simplest shopping transactions for a complex item I've ever experienced. Every configuration option was spelled out, with links for more information that led me right back to the page I'd been on (something that's much rarer than one might think). Shortly after submitting my order I received an email confirmation complete with the date when I can expect to receive my new machine (within 10 days). Several hours later I received another email, a "welcome to the Apple family" sort of thing, with links to instructional videos and the like. All in all, I'm left with that warm-and-fuzzy feeling of loyalty that's priceless for any retailer.

Incidentally, since the premature demise of my HP (did I mentioned that the thing crapped out on me after less than two years?), I've had to resort to using an ancient, battered laptop we've had stashed away. How old is this computer? Let me put it this way: It's a Compaq from the days when Compaq wasn't owned by HP. The "b" key sticks somewhat, and the plastic button for the "1" key is gone, but it loads faster than my husband's two-year-old HP, and I was able to copyedit galleys for an entire 142-page book on it using Acrobat Pro. So take that, HP.--SC

Friday, 13 March 2009

"Dear John..."

"Hello, Sherry--We're splitting up". That was the subject line of an email I received today from fashion brand Ben Sherman. Having been dumped while eating cornflakes and via the phone but never by email, I had to open up the message.

Phew--Ben Sherman wasn't breaking up with me. "'Breaking up is hard to do' bemoaned Neil Sedaka. Not so!" began the email. "Splitting can be a wonderful thing (the atom, the bill... the list goes on) so we're dividing and conquering the content of our newsletters to bring you more of the men's or women's lines you'll love." The message continues with a link where I can indicate if I want to receive the menswear enewsletter, the womenswear version, or both. It's an almost-textbook example of how to ensure that your customers and prospects receive the email content they want. And it's also a textbook example of great email copy.--SC

Oops, I dropped another CEO

An albeit unintentional chuckle within today's otherwise glum year-end financial statement from multititle mailer Flying Brands: "It has been unfortunate that we have had three Chief Executives in the space of 12 months...". That makes it sound as if they'd simply misplaced or broke a few of the CEOs, sort of the way my husband goes through mobile phones.--SC

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Something funny for money

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Friday is Red Nose Day, and a number of merchants are doing their part.

The fulfilment manager of LookatMyCrazyShoes, part of the Foot Shop family of brands, will be cutting his hair for the cause at the company's Glastonbury store; everyone who makes a donation will be entered into a drawing for a £50 LookatMyCrazyShoes gift voucher.

Simple Simon's Pies has added a red nose to its Magnificient Cheese and Onion Pie and is donating £1.50 to each one sold to Comic Relief.

Another online merchant, Fancy Frocks 4 U, is donating £1 for every costume sold.

That's all we've found so far--but I'm sure more of you are getting involved. So let us know what you're up to for Comic Relief.--SC

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Mum always puts the lid on...

A few years ago there was an ad for a multipurpose cleaner that featured a dad and a kid making a mess around the kitchen. It went something along the lines of Dad doing everything wrong, causing chaos and destruction while the boy followed him around with “helpful” tips such as “mum always lets the dog out…” My favourite bit in the ad—hence the title of this post—is when Dad uses the blender and the boy sighs: “Mum always puts the lid on…” Frustrated Dad then says “Mum works too hard” and whips out his bottle of Flash to clean up in no time at all.

So what does this have to do with direct selling? Well, Mum does work too hard and on Mother’s Day she should get proper recognition for everything she does for her family (See Sherry’s earlier post on what not to buy your mother this year unless she’s stuck in a time warp).

Some marketers have realised this and pulled out all the stops to secure Mother a decent present this year. One email that has impressed us so far is Beauty Bay’s latest offer. Each item is tailored a specific personality trait—“on the go mums, nature loving mums” or has a particular benefit—“mums who need some ‘me-time’, for the mum who needs pampering…” I’m sure there are plenty of mums out there who’d love the Diamond Pristine Pedicure set—especially if part of the treat was a foot massage!

Another winner this Mother’s Day is The White Company. It is offering recipients of its email 15 percent off, free delivery, AND free gift wrapping. Even better, as the offer is only valid until tomorrow, The White Company is encouraging early-bird ordering. No rush to the garage on Sunday morning to buy a bunch of wilting flowers this year!—MT

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

"High on a hill was a lonely goat..."

What does fashion merchant White Stuff have to do with The Sound of Music? Beats me--but I don't really care, not when there are pictures in the latest White Stuff catalogue of goats wearing Tyrol hats and blond braids.

White Stuff's spring edition has a Sound of Music theme. Some of the fashion shoots are set against rolling Alpine-esque hills; interstitial pages include an ad for a faux album, The Sound of Meowsic ("including classics like 'Edelmice', 'Do, Re, Meow', 'Climb Every Curtain' and many, many more"), a list of "top ten bizarre Bavarian activities", and instructions for making cardboard lederhosen. There's also a joint promotion with Edelweiss beer (ah! that explains the Austrian theme) in which one lucky entrant wins a weekend trip to Salzburg and tickets to the Sound of Music tour. And there's a limited-time offer of free P&P, so long as you quote the code "goat" at checkout. All of which ensures that recipients will give the catalogue more than a passing glance.

If only I could now get the song "Edelweiss" out of my mind.

PS--It's not part of the theme, but perhaps by favourite part of the entire catalogue is on the back cover: "Yipee! Freepost exchanges & returns are absolutely FREE". I'm a sucker for a well-placed "yipee!"--SC

A fascia too far?

While leafing through my Empire Stores spring/summer catalogue last night, I felt a sense of deja vu. When I got to the office this morning and saw the spring/summer Great Universal catalogue on my desk, I realised why. Except for the front cover and opening spread, they're the exact same book, with the exact same credit offer. Likewise, so far as I can tell, the websites are the same. Only the phone numbers and the URLs differ.

Of course, both brands are owned by Shop Direct, the parent company of Littlewoods. Empire was acquired last year; Great Universal in 2004. But why should both brands have virtually the same 1,126-page catalogue? Or perhaps the better question is, Why should Shop Direct support two separate, but nearly identical, brands? Why not migrate both brands to the Littlewoods fascia?

I can understand that Shop Direct might be afraid of eroding hard-won brand loyalty. But consumers aren't stupid; if executed thoughtfully and thoroughly, transitioning "Great Universal" and "Empire" to "Littlewoods" shouldn't cost the company many, if any, of its good customers. And by consolidating its brands, Shop Direct could get maximum bang for its advertising buck when promoting Littlewoods on TV and elsewhere. I'd imagine it could save money on the back end as well.

In today's Independent, Robin Knight of restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper is quoted as saying, "There will undoubtedly be a further flurry of collapses in the retail sector because retail is still heavily oversubscribed–there are too many fascias, stores, and too much space." It seems that even within Shop Direct there may be too many fascias–unless any of you out there can convince me otherwise.–SC

Monday, 9 March 2009

This is 2009, not 1959

Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers. The Garden Planner. Sweet and Simple Party Cakes. These are among the items that recommends as Mother's Day gifts. I can't think of a single mother I know who would want one of those tomes--or any of the other suggested cookbooks, crafts manuals, or gardening guides--as a Mother's Day gift. Why not just buy Mum a skillet or a bag of compost instead?

(To my husband and daughter: If you're planning on buying me a Mother's Day gift, opt for this or this over this--unless you want to feast on gruel for the foreseeable future.)--SC

Land of ice and fire and debt

Great article in the April Vanity Fair about how Iceland got itself into its current financial debacle. Though the article doesn't mention Baugur or any of Iceland's other retail interests, it does include this damning description of how banking in the country worked: "You have a dog, and I have a cat. We agree that they are each worth a billion dollars. You sell me the dog for a billion, and I sell you the cat for a billion. Now we are no longer pet owners, but Icelandic banks, with a billion dollars in new assets."

Iceland happens to be one of my favourite countries. I'd happily move there in a minute. In its starkness, it's perhaps the most beautiful place I've ever visited. (And Icelanders are such prodigious drinkers that they make the Friday night at your local pub look like a Salvation Army meeting.) If nothing else, perhaps its current crisis will make it a more affordable destination for travellers--I know I'm keeping an eye out with a view to head back once again.--SC

Friday, 6 March 2009

Knot good

One of our favourite blogs EVER is Photoshop Disasters. And whilst our design manager positively shudders at every posting, we editorial types laugh heartily and thank the lord it wasn’t us who messed up this time! So from otherwise A-star etailer, here’s one Photoshop Disasters seems to have missed.—MT
(Oh wait... Now I feel guilty. I just checked my emails and Firebox have sent me a £5 voucher because I haven’t shopped for a while. Sorry folks.)

Face to Facebook

In my March editor's letter, I referred to a few catalogue-related Facebook groups I stumbled across. In an effort to find something, anything, to distract me from writing an article on warehouse picking methods for the April issue, I went back to Facebook for a second stumble.

Among my finds:

* Argos Catalogue Throwers ("Men only, it's a guy thing. We like dangerous sports...")
* The Argos Catalogue Appreciation Society
* I Hate Argos Catalogue Launch
* 101 Uses for an Argos Catalogue
* The International Association for Argos Catalogue Game Players
* I'd Rather Read the Argos Catalogue Than a Harry Potter Book (an impressive 169 members)
* When I Was Your Age, the Argos Catalogue Was Only an Inch Thick!
* The Catalogue Appreciation Society ("The society for people who love nothing more than spending some quality time with a good catalogue. Whether Argos, Innovations or Snow & Rock; surely this is one of Britain's most popular pastimes?")
* Dont [sic] Order from Littlewoods Catalogue
* My First Wank Was to a Littlewoods Catalogue
* Bring Back the Innovations Catalogue ("This informative, idea-packed gadget-fest could always be counted on to brighten up the wettest Sunday afternoon. Countless hours could be spent dreaming of a world where Wasps are rendered harmless, and seized Jar Lids no longer make Peanut Butter inaccessible to elderly relatives.")
* The Jack Wills Catalogue IS My Bible (43 adherents)
* The Ikea Catalogue Is Like Furniture Pornography
* I Love Lush (a group led by the toiletries cataloguer/retailer itself, with 1,397 members)
* The Handpicked Collection (another "official" group, with 642 members)
* Howies Appreciation Society (courtesy of the fashion cataloguer itself, with 525 members, 14 of whom participated in the discussion "What is your favourite Howies T-shirt (and why)?")

What can we learn from this? One, that your best customers will affiliate themselves with your brand, which helps spread the word. And two, that the Argos catalogue makes a fabulous wheel block and door holder, among other uses.--SC

Artigiano meets Where’s Wally?

Catalogue marketing 101 teaches us that we should never make the shopper work too hard to find product. The Spring 2009 edition of the Artigiano catalogue disregards this rule, though. Throughout the book the models sport shoes, bags, and other accessories that elegantly complement the clothes. But does Artigiano tell customers where they can find the shoes? In a word, no. We had to flip to page 39—more than halfway through the book—to view the accessories. Not one spread of an evening outfit invited us to “turn to page 40 to see our full range of handbags”, not one photo featuring a pair of trousers suggested that a matching belt could be found on page 41.

But that’s not what irked us the most about the catalogue. No, what really bugged us is that on the cover—and throughout the catalogue—the model are wearing sunglasses, but we couldn’t find a price for them anywhere. Several different pairs of sunglasses feature prominently in the catalogue, but none of them are referenced. Does Artigiano even sell sunglasses? A quick visit to the website suggests it doesn’t. So why make them so visible throughout the catalogue? We must have been through the book a dozen times trying to work out if sunglasses were for sale. By the end we were exhausted and in no mood to shop.—MT

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Guess that catalogue

What's this: a catalogue for camping holidays? hiking gear? road sign maintenance supplies? No, this is the front cover of Ample Bosom lingerie catalogue. What a road sign informing us that Thirsk is 9 1/2 miles away has to do with bras for the buxom is anyone's guess. This cover is a bit of a boob, if you ask me.--SC

VAT's more like it

The government's decision to cut VAT by 2.5 percentage points just prior to Christmas didn't win over direct marketers or, apparently, shoppers. Some marketers, such as Boden and Extremepie, did use the reduction as a springboard for deeper pre-Christmas price cuts, however.

Now that the initial confusion and flurry of promotional activity have gone the way of the flimsy gifts inside our Christmas crackers, children's furniture merchant Aspace has introduced a VAT-related promo of its own. Polybagged with the spring edition of its catalogue was a postcard declaring "NO VAT ON ORDERS OVER £250!" The offer ties in nicely with first line of the president's note on the inside front cover: "Whatever the gyrations of the FTSE 100 there are some things in life that really are important..."--SC

Sneak peek of March Catalogue e-business

Want a sneak peek at what's inside the March issue of Catalogue e-business magazine? Then click here for a sampling of stories. Want to subscribe? Contact Jill Sweet at +44 (0)1271 866112 or

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Thanks, but no thanks

We like to think we know a good deal when we see one, and so does Dell, it seems. Instead of offering customers a saving of £50 or £50 off their next order, as you can see from the recent mailing received at Catablogue e-business’s headquarters, Dell was fighting the crunch and beefing up the customer’s shopping basket by advertising “UP TO £50 ON YOUR FIRST PURCHASE”. —MT

Monday, 2 March 2009

Catalogue craft

In the spring edition of its Ideas Shop catalogue, crafts and novelties merchant Baker Ross devotes eight pages in the front of the book to step-by-step instructions for making sparkly picture frames, felt bunnies, and a cute lamb-adorned bird feeder. A waste of paper in these tough times? Hardly. Each page details the materials needed to make the crafts, along with the catalogue pages on which they can be found. There’s no better way to sell Wiggle-Eyes and Self-Adhesive Foam Sheets than to show how those materials can be transformed into an adorable box that resembles an Easter chick.