Friday, 23 October 2009

The good, the bad, and the huh?

A few comments on catalogues and emails that arrived at Catalogue e-business HQ this week.

First, the good: “Do we look good naked?” retail supplies cataloguer Morplan asks on the inside front cover of its October issue. It had mailed the catalogue without a plastic wrap, you see. “Did your copy arrive in good condition or should we stay covered up” the note continues. “Please let us know at” I like this for two reasons: 1) Mailing without a polybag is more environmentally friendly, and 2) Morplan is asking for customers’ feedback on the move. Much as I loathe when catalogues come entombed in plastic (it’s just more flotsam to rip open and discard), I can appreciate that not everyone agrees with me. By asking its clients for feedback, Morplan shows that it values their input and, by extension, their custom.

Next, the bad: “We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated The Wanderers (Bloomsbury Classic Reads) by Richard Price have also purchased Rays by Richard Price,” begins an email from The message includes a link to Rays, which is scheduled to be released next week, and suggests I preorder a copy. Now, if Rays has not yet been published, how could people have already bought it? And more to the point, the Richard Price who wrote The Wanderers, a gritty novel (and one that I gave four stars, by the way), is not the same Richard Price who wrote Rays, a book of poetry described as “a wry and tender lover’s gift”. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of readers of Richard Price I and Richard Price II, the circles probably wouldn’t even touch, let alone overlap. I’d complained about Amazon’s dodgy product recommendations before; this seems to confirm that while it owns leagues of customer and product data, Amazon doesn’t really know what all the info means.

And now, the huh?: A 20-page Christmas edition of the Viking Direct catalogue includes two pages of Wii games, two pages of additional games, a page of kiddie electronics, and a page of DVDs. Viking, of course, is a direct seller of office supplies. Is the company really suggesting that office managers should stock up on boxed sets of Shameless DVDs and Hannah Montana karaoke systems in addition to wall planners and toner cartridges?--SC

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