Tuesday, 8 January 2013

December Catalogue Log

Last year must have been the anomaly. The exception to the rule. We tallied 110 catalogues in December 2011, compared with 66 in December 2010 and just 62 in December 2009. In 2012, we returned to similar volumes logging 76 catalogues last month. That’s the third lowest figure of the year.
Catalogue Volume 2012-2012

I can spend all day speculating why the volume has declined December-on-December. Maybe we’ve dropped off some prospect lists. It could also be that last December was a test, with cataloguers experimenting with the option of mailing Christmas offers later and January sales earlier. Perhaps we didn’t buy as many newspapers last month, and therefore didn’t see as many inserts as last year—or it’s possible that there were fewer inserts altogether. Maybe more cataloguers migrated to email promotions this year—at a quick count I received more than 35 emails from multichannel retailers on Christmas Day, including one titled “Sale - Only 364 Days Until Next Christmas”.

Whatever the reason, while catalogue volume went down, the use of promotions rocketed. Almost two-thirds of the catalogues we received in December 2012 (64.5 percent) featured some sort of special offer on the cover. Incidentally, December was second only to June in the number of promotional cover lines.

December does however take the crown for being the most discount-driven month of the year. Some 59.2 percent of all the catalogues we received promoted a sale on the cover, including a significant number of furniture retailers such as DFS, Debenhams, Tesco, Barker & Stonehouse and Aspace. Other retailers choosing to publish their special price offers on the cover included Hawkin’s Bazaar, JoJo Maman Bebe and Maplin.

Offers promoted on catalogue covers
In December 2011, we experienced a steep decline in the number of catalogues promoting free p&p on the cover compared to the preceding month—falling from approximately 21 percent to 11 percent. In 2012, we saw no such drama. Roughly 18 percent of the catalogues we tracked promoted free shipping, more or less the same as August and September, and only marginally down on November’s 21 percent. We tallied free delivery offers from fashion label Me&Em, countrywear catalogue Joseph Turner and at gardening brand Thompson & Morgan.

In December, the least popular among the offers we track were free gifts. We counted just three catalogues, or 3.9 percent, promoting a freebie. Christmas not so much a time for giving, it seems…

Average taken over the whole year
2012 in catalogues

Here you go fact fans, a roundup of the headline stats of the Catalogue Log:

* In total, Direct Commerce logged in 1390 catalogues in 2012. That’s a 29 fewer than we received in 2011, representing a 2 percent drop. On the bright side, 2012 was up 4 percent on 2010.

* September was the month with the greatest volume, when a total of 204 catalogues were tallied. We received only 61 catalogues in January.
September was also the least promotional month of the year and the one with the highest number of business-to-business catalogues received.

* The most promotional month was June, when more than two-third of the catalogues we received (67.9 percent) mentioned at least one special offer on the cover.

* The most discount-driven month in 2012 was December when 59.2 percent of the catalogue covers we logged touted a price-based promotion. The least popular month for sales was September (23.3 percent)

* Free delivery was most popular in October (26.3 percent) but least popular in January (14.8 percent).

* Free gifts were appreciably less popular in 2012 compared with 2011. The month with the most freebies was April. The fewest number of catalogues promoting a free gift with purchase was recorded in July—just 2.9 percent. --MT

Monday, 7 January 2013

Tips for social success

In a session at ECMOD 2012 in November, Lucy Uren of Rowen & Wren shared her tips for social success. Uren, a former John Lewis designer, launched the niche homewares business in April 2011 following prelaunch activity on Twitter and Tumblr. 
Rowen & Wren's website

At ECMOD, she explained how Rowen & Wren had a social strategy right from the start and how the brand continues to engage with customers over social platforms. In true social-media style, she shared a few of her top tips:

• Blog: Rowen & Wren typically posts blogs three times a week, and topics range from spotlighting new products, highlighting press features, and posting photos that customers have sent in of Rowen & Wren pieces in their home. These blogs are then automatically posted on Facebook and Twitter for maximum exposure. Rowen & Wren is also a guest blogger on a wedding blog and Uren advised exploring opportunities that will allow you to blog for other people.

The Rowen & Wren Tumblr Blog

• Twitter: Uren recommended tweeting up to five times a day, with 10am and lunchtime among the more popular times to tweet. She said Twitter tended to be the social network used by journalists and bloggers, rather than consumers, so Rowen & Wren tailors tweets to appeal to the press and uses the medium to communicate with prominent stylists and bloggers.

• Facebook
This is the social network where most of Rowen & Wren’s UK customers are found. Because it’s such an accessible platform for customer interaction, Rowen & Wren uses Facebook to share images and blog posts, inviting its customers to become friends of the brand.

• PinterestAccording to Uren, Pinterest is “outstanding”. It directs more traffic to the Rowen & Wren website than either Twitter or Facebook. Much of the activity on Pinterest comes from the US, but Uren says a growing number of UK traffic is generated by the site. To use Pinterest effectively, Uren recommended following and attracting influential “pinners”. If one of them “re-pins” any of your products, the result could be a huge spike in traffic and potentially sales. Uren said she pins every evening—a mix of Rowen & Wren’s products and interesting images from around the web.--MT

Rowen & Wren on Pinterest