Thursday, 27 October 2011

Coping with the Christmas rush

A study by software and services supplier Postcode Anywhere shows that 25 percent of UK consumers said they plan to buy more Christmas presents online this year than last, with only 5 percent saying they will spend less. The Postcode Anywhere survey also highlights that 6 percent of respondents said this year they plan to start Christmas shopping online for the first time.

This upward trend follows on from Christmas 2010, when figures released by the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index revealed that Brits spent £6.8 billion online during December—a 25 percent year-on-year increase.

Postcode Anywhere’s sales and marketing director Phil Rothwell says, “With 5 percent set to reduce spend and 25 percent to spend more, all things being equal, retailers could well be looking at a rise of around 20 percent in online sales this Christmas, a similar increase to last year. This is a fairly significant finding, but possibly not a surprising one given the circumstances.”

If you are worried about the expected surge in sales, Postcode Anywhere has the following top tips for a happy clickmas.

• The ecommerce industry needs to capitalise on what promises to be the best Christmas ever for internet shopping. Consumers want bargains. They want to kick out and relax more than ever and they want to do it at the best price. The home of the best price is the internet, plain and simple.

• Retailers will want to ensure they can meet demand over the Christmas period. So stock levels need to be high.

• The website needs to be eminently usable; festive shoppers are fickle creatures!

• Merchants need to provide accurate delivery information to reassure buyers they’ll get their goods in time to wrap them and give them.

• The other side is repeat business. The seasonal splurge is a great chance to introduce your brand to consumers at a time when fantastic service has the potential to forge a lasting relationship. Get too bogged down by a rush of orders and sacrifice on service, and you might manage to get away with making a nice extra profit, but you won’t be managing any long-term relationships.--JD

Related article:
You still have time to prepare for Christmas.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Last chance to vote for your favourite supplier

Direct Commerce magazine is proud to support the ECMOD Supplier of the Year Awards in 2011.

These awards, held annually during the ECMOD Direct Commerce Show on 30th November to 1st December, recognise the hard work and effort suppliers to the direct commerce sector put into securing the success of their clients. This year, cataloguers and online retailers are invited to nominate those suppliers who have gone the extra mile in up to 14 categories, including a new Lifetime Achievement Award.
Voting is free, and to nominate their chosen suppliers, client companies are invited to fill in an online form ( Supplier companies are also free to circulate the form to their client base. All entries must be received by 6pm on Friday, 21st October 2011.

The ECMOD Supplier of the Year Awards, in association with Data Driven Business Week and supported by Rising Media, CatEx Direct Commerce Association and Direct Commerce magazine, will be held on Wednesday 30th November at the Business Design Centre in Islington as part of the ECMOD Direct Commerce Show.

This year’s categories are:
BEST 3rd Party Order Fulfilment
BEST Creative & Design Service
BEST Mail Delivery Solution
BEST International Support Service
BEST Home Delivery Service/Solution
BEST Web & Digital Development Services
BEST Print Production Service
BEST Media Planning Service
BEST Technology Solution
NEW Most Effective Website Optimiser
NEW Most Effective Online Campaign Optimiser
NEW Most Effective Use of Predictive Analytics
NEW Most Valuable Contribution to Business Through Data
Lifetime Achievement Award

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Direct Commerce October issue

The October issue landed on desks last week with a special focus on reinventing customer recruitment. Among the topics covered were DRTV, online customer recruitment, plus our affiliate marketing roundup, helping readers choose the right agency and network for their performance-marketing needs.

Subcribers also received a special bonus supplement on payment processing: Sponsored by payment gateway Worldpay, the October supplement features a comprehensive review of the services on offer, as well as tips on accepting international payments and alternative payment options.

Remember, to access these articles you'll need to subscribe to Direct Commerce. A subscription costs as little as £45 a year for online-only access. Click here to find out more.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Grey is the new black

Kudos to apparel catalogue Toast for featuring a model with a mane of grey hair in its Autumn catalogue. According to an article in the Observer in September, Toast is bang on trend. Apparently, women are increasingly seeing “natural grey as chic” and that “there’s a real shift in our perception of grey hair”; so three cheers for Toast for projecting a more natural body image. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

September Catalogue Log

The last few months have seen catalogue volume seesaw. We noted the biggest percentage decline in 2011 to date in July, when volume fell 30 percent year-on-year.  In contrast, the following month (August-on-August) experienced the biggest rise, up 43 percent on the previous year.  Moving into September and another drop; we logged 165 catalogues in September 2011, compared with 185 last year, a decline of almost 11 percent. The decline is even more significant when you consider that two years ago we received 212 catalogues in September.
Offers chart september
Nevertheless, 165 catalogues in one month is a record for 2011. Until now, the highest number was 140, received way back in March. September also broke the 2011 record for lowest number of covers touting special offers.  Last month, more than half of all the catalogues we received featured no mention of a promotion on the cover, including Smyths Toys, Poetry, Presents for Men and Feather & Black.
Of the remaining catalogues that did include an offer, a sale or discount was once again the most popular, promoted on 65 covers (39.4 percent).
Free delivery was promoted on 18.8 percent of covers. Almost the same as percentage as August, but appreciably less than in 2010, when almost a quarter of all catalogues promoted some sort of p&p offer on the cover. Free delivery ranged from unconditional (Muddy Puddles) to a £150 threshold (Marie Chantal). Among the b-to-b mailers, Eureka required customers to spend £250 before qualifying for free p&p.

Continuing the record-breaking theme, last month we received just 11 catalogues (6.7 percent) promising us a free gift with purchase, this is the lowest figure since December 2009.  Among the freebies on offer were chocolates when we spent £40 or more at Wiggly Wigglers, a wooden well with iron pump and as many as 75 free flowers from Spalding and a free reading light from Serious Readers if we spent more than £200 on one order.
Comparing September 09, 10, 11
Also noteworthy is the trend of receiving several catalogues from the same retailer in one month; stand up Crew Clothing, Boden, and Joe Browns. Last month, Joe Browns sent us two 100-page catalogues, one promoted free delivery, the other had no offer on the cover. Crew Clothing mailed us a 220-page catalogue featuring 10 percent off as well as a 76-page mailing, also offering 10 percent off. Crew also sent a 76-page catalogue with an offer for 20 percent off everything. We were inundated with catalogues from Boden last month—we tracked a 68-page insert in Red magazine, offering 15 percent off, free delivery and returns and a free silk scarf. We also received two 244-page Autumn catalogues, one with an offer and one without; two mini Boden catalogues, an 188-page version featuring 15 percent off, free delivery and free returns and a 216-page version with no offer, and a 60-page Johnnie B catalogue targeting those shopping for teenagers.

Back to the stats, here’s one final fact for this issue of the Catalogue Log: we’ve received more catalogues in 2011 to date than we received at this point last year. For the first nine months of the year we logged 964 catalogues, compared with 952 catalogues received between January and September 2010.--MT