Tuesday, 12 March 2013

There's still time to nominate your favourite for an ECMOD Award

Everyone loves a winner!
That’s why we are inviting you to tell us which client-side businesses you think deserve to win the 2013 Direct Commerce Readers’ Award. As a special thank you we’ll enter you in our free draw so that you could win one of two pairs of VIP tickets for the prestigious ECMOD Direct Commerce Awards Presentation Dinner event at Chelsea Football Club on April 18th 2013.

Click here to download the form which can be emailed or faxed back. 

As part of the ECMOD annual celebration of excellence, the Direct Commerce and DC Weekly Readers’ Award is all important category – with the winner chosen by you and your fellow Direct Commerce magazine and DC Weekly newsletter readers. As such, it has extra special meaning and is greatly valued.

Everyone has at least one sector business they have high regard for. This is your opportunity to show support for the businesses which innovate and inspire you, which consistently deliver exceptional service to you as a customer, and which truly deserve the very special accolade of an ECMOD Direct Commerce Readers’ Award.

Make your choice by downloading the official form to nominate up to THREE client side businesses - B2B and/or B2C, which sell via direct channels - catalogues, online, TV, press ads. Tell us why you've chosen them in up to 25 words and add your own details so we can verify your nomination as well as enter you in the prize draw for one of the two pairs of VIP tickets.

Closing date for nominations is Friday, 22nd March 2013.

Click here to download the form which can be emailed or faxed back.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Dates confirmed for ECMOD Direct Commerce Live 2013

The organisers of the annual show for multichannel retailers and direct b-to-b marketers have announced new dates and a vibrant new venue for 2013.

Taking place at Olympia Conference & East Hall, an integrated area with purpose built conference rooms, a plush auditorium plus exhibition hall, “ecmod direct commerce live” will take place on September 17-18 2013.

“Bringing the dates forward from November to September reflects demand from our core audience which had also expressed a desire to see the show return to West London from its previous North London venue,” said Caroline Saich, event producer. “We are really excited to have secured this lovely integrated venue and will be announcing our full conference line-up very soon”.

For further information – on visiting or attending the conference – please call 01271 866112 or email info@ecmod.com.

Direct Commerce magazine will be covering the show extensively this year and has planned a special preview feature in the August issue. To enquire about advertising and sponsorship opportunities, email sales@directcommerce.biz.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Three cheers for mum

Mother’s Day used to mean flowers, a card and breakfast in bed, but more and more retailers are starting to use Mothering Sunday as a hook to promote other products. Here’s a quick look at the early bird emails we received before 1st March celebrating mums in 2013.

Whittard of Chelsea
 I love tea. A lot. So when Whittard of Chelsea suggests I buy mum a tea hamper, it feels as though the email has been personalised based on my penchant for traditional tea varieties, rather than what she’d like. If I bought this for my mum, I’d definitely have to go round more often to help her drink it all. Curiously, the email doesn’t mention how much these hampers cost, which makes a change from the usual price-driven emails received at this time of year.


Oh So Cherished 
I like that the email from gifts and personalised stationery marketer Oh So Cherished comes with a reminder of the date with the title “My Beautiful Mum Gifts - 10th March 2013”. But I’m not quite sure who the audience for the email is. Oh So Cherished’s customers are women aged 22 to 45 years old, would they buy a “My Beautiful Mummy Handbag Mirror” or an “I Love My Mummy Book”? I can definitely see dads buying this on behalf of the little ones, but are enough dads going to receive this message? Perhaps Oh So Cherished should have prompted the recipient to share the email with her loved ones with a big “hint, hint” call to action. Or picked more “grown up” suggestions like necklaces, memory books, personalised compacts, leather albums or pen gift sets like the ones we found on the carefully curated Mother’s Day landing page on the Oh So Cherished website.

Occa Home

My favourite Mother’s Day email of 2013 so far, for a couple of reasons, is from Occa-Home. The first reason: it’s the first I’ve seen for the often-forgotten mother-in-law. Second, the subject line raised an unintentional smile: “Don’t Forget your Mother in Law - Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price”.--MT

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

February Catalogue Log

We received 88 catalogues in February, a 6 percent decline on last year’s 94 and a 20 percent slide on the 104 we collected in February 2011. Out of those 88 catalogues we logged, 42 included the word Spring in the title. From the plain Spring 2013, to Early Spring 2013 and even Late Spring 2013. A further six catalogues included the word Winter. Yet in that same haul, only one catalogue, jewellery marketer Argento, mentioned Valentine’s Day.

While naming a catalogue edition Valentine’s Selection, or Valentine’s Gift Guide, may limit the sort of merchandise it carries and its potential “shelf-life”, sticking to the same titles time and again gets boring and formulaic. At worst, it can train the customer to delay a purchase and wait until the next mailing, which he knows will be your Spring Sale.

Incorporating seasonal events like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter into a catalogue provides the perfect opportunity to try something a little different, so why don’t more catalogues do it? I would like to see cataloguers mix it up a bit. The experts call it, “tapping into the recipient’s emotions”.

In an article for Direct Commerce magazine, published in 2011, Ian Simpson of catalogue design specialist Catalogues 4 Business wrote: “I learned a long time ago that selling is rational; buying is emotional.” Speaking specifically about Christmas in his example, Simpson says it “is important to show your customers you recognise it is a special time of year and you have been working hard to bring some extra-special products”, but his advice can be applied to other seasons too. So, isn’t it time you tried something new to connect with what your customer might feel about this time of year. Instead of just Spring 2013, how about New Spring Collection, or Fresh for Spring, or Springtime Essentials, or even Mother’s Day Gifts and New Ideas for Spring? I’m sure you can do better than that, but you admit that they’re more evocative than simply Spring? It’s worth a test, surely? (Though don’t get too zany. I received a catalogue recently titled Squeezy Fun.)

February's Offers Chart

But I digress. Back to the stats and the February Catalogue Log tracked a decline in the percentage of catalogues offering a discount or special price promotion. Forty-four percent (39 catalogues) offered customers money off in February 2013, compared with 46 percent in 2012 and 49 percent in 2011. Shirtmaker Charles Tyrwhitt relied heavily on discounts last month. We received five different Charles Tyrwhitt catalogues in February 2013, each with a slightly different offer: From a saving of £47 for Naked Wines customers, to an extra £5 for readers of the Sunday Times to a free woven silk tie as a special introductory offer featured in a 36-page catalogue.

On the subject of free gifts, only six other catalogues offered a freebie—though that’s two more than this time last year. Among the gifts were begonias and biscuits, from a gardening and an office supplies catalogue, respectively. A quick glance at the chart above shows just how the popularity of free gifts has declined in recent months. The staple promotion for many b-to-b mailers, my first assumption is that we’re not getting as many business catalogues as we used to. My second theory is that free gifts are not seen as desirable any more—certainly not attractive enough for a mention on the front page.

In contrast, the chart also shows the popularity of free delivery steadily rising. We tallied 24 catalogues (27.2 percent) of front covers touting free shipping, conditional or otherwise. That’s the highest percentage we’ve logged to date, putting October 2012 into second place. Free p&p is emerging as the universal promotion of choice and in February was promoted by catalogues from across the home shopping gamut, including the gardening sector (The Canny Gardener), apparel (Great Plains), trade goods (Ironmongery Direct), food (Bettys) and industrial equipment (Welco).

All told, 60 percent of the catalogues we logged in February featured some sort of promotion on the cover making it more promotional than February 2012, but still behind February 2011, when two-thirds of catalogues carried promotional cover lines.

With Mother’s Day falling early this March, I’m not expecting many catalogue covers to promote it, but with Easter coming up at the end of the month, next month’s Catalogue Log will be back to share the best covers of the season. If you think your next edition can wow us, send a copy to The Catalogue Log, c/o Direct Commerce Magazine, First Floor Offices, 155 High Street, Ilfracombe, EX34 9EZ.--MT