Catalogue volume took a dive in April. The Catalogue Log tracked 83 catalogues last month, compared with 140 in March and 104 in February. I suspect the three bank holidays in April had something to do with it.
Nevertheless, the good news is that volume was almost double what we tracked in April 2009—when we logged a mere 42 catalogues—and more or less in line with April 2010, which recorded 96 catalogues.
The continuing trend for catalogues to feature more promotional front covers was evident in April. More than a third of catalogue covers promoted some sort of sale or discount. Although this was significantly lower than March and April, the figure is higher than we recorded in previous years—34.9 percent compared with 29.2 percent in April 2010 and 30 percent in April 2009. Among those using discounts to woo customers were apparel retailer Crew Clothing, which gave us 20 percent off everything, and vitamins and supplements mailer Higher Nature, which offered us 15 percent off our next order.
Free delivery was also marginally more popular in April 2011 than it was last year, with almost a fifth, or 16 catalogues, touting free shipping on the cover. Business-to-business marketers Staples Direct, Rajapack and Ironmongery Direct all offered their customers free next-day delivery. On the consumer side, clothing catalogues Hush and Pure Collection were among those to offer free delivery coupled with free returns.
Last month we also noted that 16.9 percent of catalogue covers offered a free gift with purchase. This is an appreciable increase on March, when only 10.7 percent of covers did so. Again, it was mostly offered by gardening and b-to-b catalogues, but we also saw sporting guns and shooting accessories cataloguer William Powell and apparel catalogue La Redoute use the tactic to encourage sales and/or higher average order values.
We noticed a trend for more magalogue-style mailings too. We’re getting quite accustomed to picking up customer magazines from merchants that have store networks, for example M&Co, New Look, Office or B&Q. Less common, as far as the Catalogue Log is concerned, is a b-to-b customer magazine. I think the reason we may not receive many b-to-b magalogues is that they are predominantly used as retention rather than acquisition tools. Because we’re less likely to purchase, say, building supplies on a regular basis, we probably don’t qualify to receive such a mailing. That said, we did receive a magalogue from industrial and commercial equipment cataloguer Slingsby in April.
The 64-page, glossy, perfect-bound magalogue titled Work-it features articles on health and safety in the workplace, a day in the life of one of its key staff, as well as product news and money-off vouchers. A more thorough review of the magalogue will be featured in an upcoming blog post. We’d love to know what Slingsby’s ROI is on the publication, because it’s certainly a great idea. Our favourite feature is the “To-do board”—but more on this later. --MT