Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The July Catalogue Log

For the third consecutive month, the percentage of catalogues promoting sales and discounts continued to decline, according to the Catalogue e-business Catalogue Log.

In July we logged in 149 catalogues. Of those, 46, or 30.9 percent, touted a sale or discount on their front cover. That’s down from 34.1 percent of the catalogues tallied in June and a whopping 42.6 percent of those logged in May.

At 16.1 percent, the percentage promoting free postage and packing was down somewhat from June’s 17.8 percent but still up significantly on May’s 11 percent. The percentage of catalogues offering a gift with purchase, meanwhile, soared, from 8.5 percent in June to 15.4 percent in July. Among the freebies in July: a Snap N Slice kitchen tool that sells for £29.99 free with orders of more than £60 from homewares merchant JML; a free “deluxe wicker picnic basket” with orders of more than £39 from office supplies mailer Neat Ideas; and a free DVD player for new customers with orders of more than £30 from another office products mailer, Viking Direct.

Viking and Neat Ideas were among the catalogues with the busiest covers in terms of offers—not surprising given how competitive and price-conscious the office supplies sector is. For instance, in addition to the free DVD player, the Viking catalogue cited above promised “fast free delivery” and two Nectar points for every £1 spent. Another b-to-b catalogue, packaging materials merchant Rajapack, offered on its front cover discounts of up to 35 percent PLUS a free barbecue apron set with purchase PLUS free next-day delivery.

On the b-to-c front, home goods and apparel mailer Clifford James gave away a “solar light twinpack worth £14.99” plus promoted a buy-one-get-one-free deal on travel bags and a five-piece knife set “for just £24.99”. Not to be outdone, Home Essentials promised a free gift with order, the ability to “spread the cost with your personal account”, and a half-price quilt and throw set.

The percentage of catalogues that did not include any special offers on the front cover was down slightly from June: 43.6 percent versus 46.5 percent. Which is not to say that these catalogues didn’t put their covers to work. Homecraft’s Chester-care book, which sells living aids for the elderly and infirm, pointed out that the current edition included more than 80 new products. Housewares cataloguer/retailer Lakeland promised “over 530 exciting ideas for your home”. Direct Golf reminded customers that if they ordered by 2pm they could receive their goods the next day, while Teknomek, a provider of stainless-steel equipment, let readers know that it could create merchandise to customers’ specs.

A cover line on the Jigsaw IT catalogue is as informative but less enticing than the ones above: “Due to current fluctuations in international exchange rates prices printed may be incorrect. For our latest updated prices please see jigsaw24.com”. Granted, that’s important information. But by putting it on the front cover, Jigsaw seems to be saying, “Before you open this catalogue, bear in mind that some items will cost more than the prices listed here. Are you really sure you even want to open this catalogue and start shopping?”--SC

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