Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas covers 2011

Christmas is a time of traditions and in the Direct Commerce office one of my favourites is the Christmas covers blog post. Although most of the catalogues received in the run up to Christmas were taken to ECMOD on 30th November, I kept a few favourites in a secret drawer until I was ready to reveal this year’s top four. And they are...

1. Continuing with the spirit of tradition, here’s a catalogue cover that could have been produced in the mid-20th century. Is that a good or a bad thing? You decide. For us in the Direct Commerce office, this cover from The Original Gift Company encapsulates Christmas—creeping down the stairs to check whether Santa’s been, a beautifully decorated tree with presents galore—all from The Original Gift Catalogue, I assume. I like the tagline too: “Delivering the magic of Christmas”, which works on a number of levels. Finally, remembering that a catalogue has to do more than just look appealing, the cover carries a message that gift personalisation is free and sets out the last-order dates to reassure customers that The Original Gift Company really has thought of everything. 
Original Gift Company
2. The Little White Company caught my attention purely because of the little girl whispering to the little boy. I like to imagine what they’re talking about. My favourites are “that big stocking’s mine” or “I’ve got more presents than you”, but we’ve had lots of fun coming up with other captions. I also like the set The White Company created for its cover and how it effortlessly hints at everything a customer can find inside, from furniture to rugs, from giant stockings to childrenswear. 
Little White Company
3. The Scarlett Willow mailer arrived early in the season to announce that the Christmas boutique was now open. It was a favourite right from the start—I love the snowflake motif and the twinkly lights creating a flare effect on the cover; I like the simplicity of the propping—a silver spoon, a paper placeholder; I also like the tableware specialist’s emphasis on personalisation and the call to action to see the whole range online. The mailer only has eight pages to capture the imagination, but it gets it spot on. There were stocking fillers, kids’ gifts, best sellers and personalisation ideas. As a driver to encourage me to visit the Scarlett Willow website, this definitely succeeded.

Scarlett Willow
4. The Christmas wildcard comes courtesy of gardening supplies cataloguer Wiggly Wigglers. This cover certainly made me stop and think: What’s a bull got to do with Christmas? What’s so special about this bull? Who is Trojan Fred? What does he have to do with Wiggly Wigglers? I feel like an outsider stumbling on a private joke. Do existing Wiggly customers already know Trojan Fred’s story and I don’t? I’ve scanned the catalogue from cover to cover to try and find out more, but failed. However, despite a frustrating front cover, the Wiggly Christmas catalogue does a lot right. There’s a special offer on the cover that encourages customers to spend more than £40 on their order and I love its “why buy Wiggly” spread on pages 4 to 5, which has some very convincing reasons to shop at Wiggler Wigglers. Also, I fear that if I say no, Trojan Fred might come after me.
Wiggly Wigglers
I can’t end this post without a mention for my favourite back cover. While the males in the office would probably disagree, I much prefer the back cover of the Figleaves catalogue. The front seems the obvious choice—a seminaked woman. The back cover took a little more thought, fairy lights and baubles instead of a log fire, stockings hanging from the mantelpiece and a selection of gift boxes either side of the fireplace. It has a more Christmassy feel. But like I said, I’m sure at least half the population would disagree.--MT

Figleaves' front cover   Figleaves' back cover

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

November Catalogue Log

It’s official, cataloguers are discounting more heavily in the run up to Christmas. The Catalogue Log data compiled by Direct Commerce magazine shows that in November 2010, 27.5 percent of the catalogues received featured a sale or discount on the front cover. Back then, it was the lowest percentage of catalogues touting a special-price promotion recorded since we began tracking the data. This year, even though the level declined on a month-on-month basis, November 2011 still saw a third of catalogues (32.6 percent) feature a discount or sale on their front page.

Among them, Crew Clothing tested a number of offers, including 15 percent off, free delivery and free returns; 20 percent off plus free delivery and returns and £25 off. Figleaves, Great Little Trading Co, Saltwater and Russ Andrews also sought to tempt shoppers with money off their orders. And it’s not just discounting—cataloguers are throwing in more incentives to persuade consumers to shop with them. The percentage of catalogues offering free delivery rose from 18 percent in November 2010 to 20.8 percent in November 2011. As a hook, apparel cataloguers coupled free delivery with free returns—as seen at White Stuff, Pure Collection and Brora.

When it came to free gifts, however, more catalogues used the tactic in the 2010 festive season than this year. It was just a marginal decrease though, from 8.4 percent in November 2010 to 7.3 percent in 2011. Among those promoting a free gift with purchase were angling catalogue Fishtec, packaging catalogue Rajapack, Laithwaites Wines, and kitchenware brand Jean Patrique, which gave away a free kettle. 

Jean Patrique

November 2011 was generally more promotional on a year-on-year basis with more than half of the catalogues (51.1 percent) featuring some sort of offer on the cover (sale, discount, free delivery or free gift), compared with 46.7 percent in 2010. But it wasn’t on a month-on-month basis. The Catalogue Log shows, in what may seem a counter-intuitive move compared with how the high street is tackling Christmas, that as the big day approaches, cataloguers are toning down their aggressive promotional strategies. Just take a look back at September, when 39.4 percent of catalogues featured a sale or discount on the cover compared to 32.6 percent in November. In October, that percentage rose to 41.9 percent. More prevalent in the festive period 2011 are free delivery offers, which make home shopping even more convenient at this time of year. The 20.8 percent we tracked last month is the highest percentage recorded since August and up on last November’s 18 percent. Those offering free delivery included Bettys, M and M Direct and Lands’ End.
In total, we received 178 catalogues in November 2011, a 6.6 percent increase on the same month last year, and a 16.2 increase on November 2009. It is the highest number received in 2011--MT


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bid in our silent auction and support the Children's Hospice South West

Synergy Partnership Ltd, which supports the home shopping and direct commerce sector via a range of events, awards and publications--including Direct Commerce magazine, has “adopted” Children’s Hospice South West via its fundraising activities for the next 12 months.

As part of our fundraising drive, we are running a silent auction featuring some top prizes kindly donated by our partners. Please show your support for this very worth charity by bidding in our silent auction--but hurry, closing date for bids is Monday, 12th December.
To see the prizes on offer and make your bid, visit http://svy.mk/ecmodauction.

ECMOD Supplier of the Year Award Winners

The very best of the UK’s specialist suppliers to the direct commerce sector have been recognised at the prestigious ECMOD Supplier of the Year Awards 2011.

Thirteen companies received their awards at a special networking evening ceremony held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, during the ECMOD Direct Commerce Show. The annual awards event aims to recognise the outstanding contribution these organisations make to the catalogue and multichannel retail sector. In total, 39 businesses reached the final shortlist.

Unlike many others, the awards expressly call for nominations from client companies, asking them to vote for the suppliers that have contributed the most to their businesses.
The winners are:

Best third-party order fulfilment – AMETHYST
Best creative and design service – CREATIVE MOUSE
Best mail delivery solution – CITIPOST
Best international support service – ESSENTIAL COMMERCE
Best home delivery service/solution – HERMES
Best web and digital development services – CHANNEL ADVISOR
Best print production service – EC2I
Best media planning service – THE INSERT HOUSE, part of the Specialist Works Group.
Best technology solution – SANDERSON

Four further companies were also commended in a number of brand new categories:

Most effective website optimiser – PEERIUS
Most effective online campaign optimiser – REDEYE
Most effective use of predictive analytics – MORE2
Most valuable contribution to business through data - ABACUS

Footage and photos from the night will be available soon from www.ecmod360.co.uk.  --MT