Sunday, 21 April 2013

Multichannel retailers celebrate excellence at venda-ecmod awards

Online, catalogue and multichannel retailers representing the full spectrum of the sector celebrated success at the venda-ecmod direct commerce awards on Thursday, 18th April 2013.

Now in their 15th year, these annual awards recognise the hard work, flair and commitment of businesses in the catalogue and multichannel retail sector. With categories designed for those targeting sales to businesses as well as for those selling to consumers, these awards also seek to celebrate the achievements of businesses of all scales and at all stages of development.

Held this year at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, the awards were presented by Sky News anchor Dermot Murnaghan.

Best Multichannel Business CategoryB2B – annual sales up to £5 million: ESE Direct
Consumer – annual sales up to £5 million: Bloom
B2B – annual sales of £5 million - £30 million: International Dance Supplies
Consumer – annual sales of £5 million - £30 million: Scotts of Stow
Consumer – annual sales over £30 million: Charles Tyrwhitt

Consumer Categories
Children’s Sector: Great Little Trading Co
Womenswear & Accessories: BoPeeps
Menswear & Accessories: Loake Shoemakers
Home including Food & Wine: Victoria Plumb
Gardening & Outdoors: Hingstons
Gifts & Gadgets: The Handpicked Collection
Luxury Brands: Wall London
Charity Trading Operation: RNLI (Sales)

Business-to-Business Categories
Industrial & Warehouse Supplies: ESE Direct
Hotel, Restaurant, Catering: Lyco
Education & Teaching: TTS
Maintenance, Facilities Management: Lyco

Best Catalogue Creative & Production: Seasalt
Best Website: Direct Golf
Best Mobile Commerce Site: Diamond Manufacturers
Best Use of Social Media: Littlewoods
Exploitation of Technology - businesses with sales up to £25 million: This Works
Exploitation of Technology - businesses with sales over £25 million: Argos
Outstanding Customer Service: Bureau Direct
Direct Commerce Readers' Choice: Home Leisure Direct - commended for customer service and continuous innovation.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Nick Wheeler of Charles Tyrwhitt and Chrissie Rucker of The White Company for their contribution to the catalogue and home shopping sector. Previous recipients of the lifetime achievement award include Peter Harris and Angus Thirlwell of Hotel Chocolat, Fran Cotton of Cotton Traders, Johnnie Boden of Boden and Tony Laithwaite of Direct Wines.

The competition was fierce and although not crowned winners, the following companies were highly commended by the panel of independent ECMOD judges. 
•    Thompson & Morgan 
•    Worldstores 
•    Long Tall Sally 
•    Railbookers 
•    Bodie and Fou

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Jessops video review

At the end of March, Dragons’ Den star and entrepreneur Peter Jones relaunched the Jessops business. He’s ploughed £4 million of his own money into the business and forecasts sales of £80 million in the first year. But can the Jessops website deliver on this ambitious aim? I take a look in this video review--MT.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


Top names including Argos, Diamond Manufacturers, Seasalt, Victoria Plumb and WorldStores, have all made it onto the prestigious venda-ecmod direct commerce awards shortlist.

Celebrating business excellence among cataloguers and multichannel marketers, the shortlist includes companies in the running for all categories, including the Direct Commerce Readers’ Choice Award, outstanding customer service, best catalogue creative and production, and best use of social media.

The full list, in alphabetical order:

Argos, Atterley Road, BigDug, Bloom, Bodie and Fou, BoPeeps, Bureau Direct, Charles Tyrwhitt, Diamond Manufacturers, Direct Golf UK, ESE Direct, Firebox, Great Little Trading Co, Handpicked Collection, Hingstons, Home Leisure Direct, International Dance Supplies, John Lewis, Lakeland, Littlewoods, Loake Shoemakers, Long Tall Sally, Lyco, Railbookers, RNLI (Sales), Scotts of Stow, Seasalt, The White Company, This Works, Thompson & Morgan, Toast, TTS, Victoria Plumb, Wall, WorldStores.

All entrants on the shortlist have undergone a rigorous judging process by a panel of independent judges, with the final winners announced on the evening of 18th April at a fabulous gala dinner awards event at Chelsea Football Club. Sky TV presenter Dermot Murnaghan will present trophies to the winner in each category, with a special—and top secret—lifetime achievement award also in the pipeline.

Tickets for the event may be purchased subject to availability. Call 01271-866112 or email to secure your seat.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Email we love: The Gift Library

Whereas this February’s Catalogue Log bemoaned the lack of mailers’ springtime originality, email marketers are wooing us with a little more creativity. Our favourite email of the spring so far is from the Gift Library.

Titled “Love your Dog, Love your Garden: New Arrivals to put a Spring in your Step”, we were instantly won over by the subject line. We were then greeted by an adorable pooch and his training whistle and a selection of just seven items to peruse, meaning we weren’t overwhelmed by too much choice. We also love the way the email lays out its top picks, the greys and browns contrasting with the red rose and shiny watering can.

Finally, by using the teaser “Introducing Maslin & Co… find out more”, we were intrigued enough to click through and explore. All proving that the Gift Library has done its homework when it comes to email marketing best practice.--MT

Thursday, 4 April 2013

March Catalogue Log

Over the past few years the Catalogue Log has tracked how, to boost sales, marketers are experimenting with promotions. While price cuts are by far the most common offer, free delivery is creeping up the popularity charts.

I don’t know about you, but there are certain email subject lines that almost guarantee I am going to open the email. The first is Your Order Has Been Despatched, which I click on to check delivery times and status. The second is Free Delivery. No Minimum Spend. Just last week a skincare brand elicited a buy response from me by sending a well-timed email. I was already in the market to buy a cleanser to replenish my depleting stocks and although my preference was for that brand, the delivery charge put me off. I was seriously considering buying a similar item from another online retailer that offers unconditional free shipping on all items instead. That free delivery email won saved the sale.

What is becoming evident from the Catalogue Log data we’ve collected is that the popularity of free delivery on email is filtering into print. We thought February was a record-breaking month, with 27.2 percent of catalogue covers promoting free shipping. March topped that with 28.9 percent, or 35 catalogues. As the chart below shows, the month of March has experienced a steady increase in the number of catalogues touting free p&p, while the use of other promotions has remained relatively constant. 

Overall we received 121 catalogues in March 2013, a staggering 23 percent drop on last year’s haul of 157. A quick glance at the list shows we didn’t receive a mailing from Lakeland or Misco last month, but we did get a Lego catalogue and Tandy Leather buyer’s guide. Other new names last month included Cornwall-based Poppy Treffry, fashion etailer Atterley Road and the Organic Gardening Catalogue.

Still the most popular promotion, 41.3 percent of catalogues promoted a sale or a discount on their front cover. Interestingly, a similar percentage (39.7 percent) featured no offer at all. One offer that stood out was from the Folio Society. It promoted the Times Atlas, a publication the Folio Society says is worth £150, for just £9.95. Is it just me, or does that have the wrong effect on the concept of “perceived value”?

There was somewhat of a resurgence in the number of catalogues offering a free gift with purchase in March. One in eight (12.4 percent) catalogue covers promised a freebie, compared to less than one in 10 (8 percent) in February. The gifts included a free silk tie from Charles Tyrwhitt, free pearl earrings from a Daily Mail reader offers catalogue, mini digital kitchen scales from Fashion World and a “Spring is in the Air” tote bag from The Owl Barn, among others.

I promised last month that I would share my favourite covers of the season. Sadly, no Easter-related covers really grabbed me, but the Spring catalogue from Hotter scores top marks. It features the strapline Shoes to fall in love with immediately drawing the reader in. The cover evokes happy days by the lake, and the addition of a dot whack offering 20% off your first order plus free delivery is a welcome added bonus.

Selling “comfy” shoes, Hotter doesn’t fall into the trap of forgetting about fashion. The models are young and photographed having fun—on swings and hammocks with young children, lazing in classic cars, even exercising. The colour scheme is pastel, reminiscent of spring blossoms and flowering gardens. The copy’s spot on too: The smart heels in our Signature Collection are more than a little out of the ordinary. That’s not just because they come in beautiful brights and soft neutral shades (though they do), it’s because of the Comfort Concept features in every pair! Flexible, super soft, with luxurious pillow soft underfoot cushioning that you’ll feel in every step – bliss! I’m not the target demographic, but this catalogue has me tempted.--MT