Thursday, 28 May 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
“Huh?” because half-way down the email in between “bright and breezy” womenswear and “men’s festival fashion” was a banner ad promoting 5 percent off and free shipping at entertainment etailer CD Wow.
“Huh?” because there was no explanation, anywhere, of this partnership. I’m used to emails that say “we’ve teamed up with our friends at…” but there was nothing here to tell me what Joe Browns has to do with CD Wow or for how long this promotion has been running.
“Huh?” because when I clicked through to the CD Wow site I saw my discount automatically applied and a Joe Browns logo but still no further details.
And “Huh?” because Joe Browns seems only to be promoting this partnership within its emails. I couldn’t find any further information on the Joe Browns website, blog, or catalogue.
Yes, as Herschell often writes, the web is price-driven. But is our attention span so short and so focused on getting the best deal that retailers can now leave out all the other details from selling copy? I, for one, hope not.—MT
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Retro is another word for saying old-fashioned and rubbish, isn’t it? It’s postmodern and ironic to mean something that is so bad it’s good. I certainly hope that’s not what Kew was aiming for. I have never been to the Isle of Wight, and I’m sure it has a lot to offer. To promote it as retro seems a little unfair.
Sunday, 24 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
Thursday, 21 May 2009
You won't see this shirt featured in Vogue or in Harrods; as blogger Michael K of Dlisted (where I came across this marvel) writes, "don't act like you've never worn this shirt with denim cut-offs and wedge sandals while working the ho stroll in Panama City Beach, FL". Even Homer Simpson wouldn't wear this T, though Cletus definitely would.
The only reason this item could possibly have topped Amazon's apparel list has to be the product reviews--319 and counting.
A sampling: "After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women... The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth..."
"I am a member of Parliment and bought this T Shirt on my expenses. Since wearing this in the House, I have had a strange longing for roadkill and burgers..."
"So I tracked my package before I left for work today and realized that it would be delivered around 1pm. Around noon I told my manager my dad fell off a ladder and that I had to leave work to take him to the hospital. Pulling out of Taco Hell all I could think of was 3 Woof Moon shirt and where to make the public debut, and that 3WM would give me the guts to ask Tonya the deep fry girl to a drive-in movie tomorrow..."
"Before the 3 wolves and moon t-shirt I was just a crazy cat lady wearing 'hang in there' kitten t-shirts. Now that I wear my 3 wolves and moon t-shirt people definitely take me more seriously. Especially that lady that keeps calling from the electric company. If I'm really lucky I'll have the confidence to leave the house soon too..."
If Amazon had censored the comments--and many of them are much too rude for me to repeat here--there's no way it would have sold so many of these shirts. So let's chalk one up to the power of unadulterated user-generated content. And when you have a few minutes, check out some of the other comments on the shirt's product page. Just don't blame me if you fall under the spell of the three wolves and find yourself howling at the moon.--SC
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
In a begging letter to boss Brent Hoberman, the MyDeco folks asked for more modest items—they don’t need £9,000 to remove moles from the lawn, or £2,200 to clean the moat. Instead a laptop bag, a trampoline, and some mugs made their wish list. The more pricey items were expensed as necessities because “For under £1,000, I’ll get 30,000 cups of coffee--bargain! The extra work time I’ll gain by not popping out for a Costa fix MORE than makes up for the hefty price tag” and “I just can’t work when my desk is messy, and these drawers would make me much more productive!”
I thought I’d see more of these lists from multichannel merchants quick to spot a selling opportunity but so far MyDeco is out there on its own. To keep it company Catablogue e-business has come up with its own expenses form. Here's what we'd like
Miri—a new Apple Mac
Sherry—a fizzy drinks vending machine (for a neverending supply of Diet Coke)
Pauline—a relaxing massage chair
So what did I do last Friday afternoon? Implement another web 2.0 effort: the Catalogue e-business LinkedIn group. I emailed invitations to some of my LinkedIn contacts on this side of the Atlantic, my colleague Miri did the same, and we referred to it on our Twitter feed. I figured maybe half of those we’d invited would sign up, and that would be that.
So I was thrilled to see that before the weekend was out we already had more than 60 members. And a significant portion of them weren’t people we’d invited, but instead were LinkedIn contacts of our contacts, along with several who’d come via Twitter. A number of these people were new to both Miri and me, and so were perhaps new to Catalogue e-business as well.
My point? One, that social networking does indeed help you reach people you might not have been in touch with via your traditional channels as well as enable you to strengthen your relationship with your existing audience.
And two, that Catalogue e-business has a LinkedIn group, and I hope to see you on the membership list soon.--SC
The alt tag for the main image of this enewsletter, from a consumer magazine publisher, reads "Woman holding her stomach". I immediately envisioned a woman doubled over in pain, which did not put me of a mind to click through.
Then again, when I did click through (purely for journalistic reasons, of course), the actual photo--of a hand pinching several inches of flesh from a flabby torso--wasn't much more appealing.--SC
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Wow, I thought, free next-day delivery. Impressive!
And it would be impressive, if that's what 4imprint meant by "express delivery". But on page 32 there are all sorts of conditions, no least this: "Express service production time does not include days in transit. We will guarantee to despatch your promotional products within 1, 2 or 5 days." In other words, it's not the delivery that's express, but the turnaround time from receipt of order--which to be fair includes personalisation--till despatch of order.
I can't decide if I feel misled or stupid. But either sentiment does not leave me inclined to order from 4imprint.--SC
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
The blogger, Graham Jones, finds it "hard to see why people will flock online when they are deserting the bricks and mortar stores in their droves". Sure, some will migrate from the high street to the web in search of bargains, he concedes. But then he cites a recent study that says customer satisfaction with online shopping has declined and another report that consumers want more online payment options available to them.
His point about the need to offer site visitors an easy, enjoyable experience and myriad payment options is sound, of course. But his overall contention that, aside from price, there's no reason to shop online isn't.
Yes, the ability to easily source bargains online is a key reason shoppers buy online rather than in a store. But there's also the fact that because of the relatively low cost of entry for setting up a web store, speciality merchants abound. You want to teach yourself Estonian? Chances are you won't find a book or tapes at your local Waterstone's, but you will at HeartofEurope.co.uk. Searching for a Marimekko Unikko cushion? M&S won't have it, but DesignShopUK.com and Sheerhome.co.uk and FinnesseLifestyle.com do.
There are two other reasons to shop online that Jones overlooks. (And given that he bills himself as an "internet psychologist", I'd expect him to be alert to these motivations.) One is the sheer convenience. Maybe some websites aren't that easy to navigate and order from. But for those who only find the time to shop at 9:30 in the evening when the kids are finally in bed or at 2 in the morning because of shift work, the convenience of ecommerce is unbeatable.
Then there's what I call the misanthropic factor. Some of us simply don't want to smile and nod at a salesperson or chat to an order taker if we don't have to. And thanks to the web, we don't have to. (Surely I'm not the only one who feels this way, right? Right?)--SC
Monday, 11 May 2009
Friday, 8 May 2009
Still, at least they didn't put Alan Sugar's face on the packaging. Sir Alan didn't see the funny side when cosmetics retailer Lush, which featured in the previous episode, plastered his face on a cartoon bum promoting a sugar scrub soap. Spoil sport!--MT
More consistent with its postings is PenguinBooks. All day it’s been asking its Twitter followers to guess literary quotes or famous first lines from books. Again, no prizes for being first, but a fun way to engage with potential customers nonetheless. And merchants can monetise this by linking to the film, or book, available to purchase on their sites. I’m waiting for The_Hut to play “name that tune”, but when will I get my work done?--MT
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Discrimination is charging a black woman £2 more for the exact same bra as a white woman. Discrimination is allowing Christians but not Muslims into your store to purchase said bra. Discrimination is paying a woman £2 an hour less than a man for designing bras. Charging £2 more for what M&S, in a statement issued last July, said is "the specialist work to ensure the suitable level of support, innovation, and technology that goes into the [larger] bras" is not discrimination.
In the States it's common for retailers to charge a few dollars more for plus-size versions of regular-size apparel, ostensibly to cover the extra materials. I used to think that it was a bit ingenuous not to charge a few bucks less for petite versions (back when I still fitted into petite versions), but hardly discriminatary.
If Busts 4 Justice wants to boycott M&S, that's fine. But to call this "blatant discrimination" makes a mockery of the concept of discrimination and diminishes examples of true, and truly harmful, discrimination.
Lingerie cataloguer Simply Yours has the right idea, however: If you search for Busts 4 Justice in Google, you see a sponsored link on the top right column from Simply Yours with the header "We Love Busts 4 Justice!" The copy underneath reads, "Get 10% Off All Our Great FittingGorgeous Lingerie For Curvy Girls!" What a great way to quickly take advantage of a competitor's weakness.--SC
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
If you’re a subscriber to our print magazine, Catalogue e-business, you should already have received your copy of issue 169. If you’re not a subscriber, here’s a selection of the articles you’re missing out on:
* Special focus on customer acquisition: off-the-page advertising, user-generated content, and affiliate marketing
* International: five tips on expanding into Europe
* Distribution: how to make the most of your warehouse space
* Q&A with: The Recycle Works founder Sylvia Hopwood
* Plus: the latest industry news, a review of the Handpicked Collection catalogue, Herschell Gordon Lewis on copy, and much more
To get Catalogue e-business magazine delivered every month, or for more information, contact Jill Sweet on 01271 866112 or email@example.com.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
In an article in Crain's Manchester Business, N Brown chief executive Alan White explains that rather than cutting staff, the company has trained them to conduct outbound telemarketing. By calling customers who haven't ordered in a while, "the outbound team brought in £40 million in the last full year, an increase of 35 percent," Crain's reports.
At a time when so many businesses are focused almost exclusively on cutting costs (and yes, we do realise that for a significant portion, that focus is all that prevents them from going under), it's great to see a major company like N Brown broaden its outlook to encourage growth. Is it a coincidence that, in contrast to many other apparel merchants, N Brown's annual sales rose nearly 11 percent and its profit more than 6 percent?--SC