*The Web is a Cataloger's Playground, Speaker Says

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SAN FRANCISCO -- It costs a cataloger only $11 to acquire a customer, according to Jaclyn Easton, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the author of "StrikingItRich.com." Easton addressed conference attendees here yesterday during the opening general session of the 17th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition.

Pure plays need to spend $82 to acquire each new customer, and bricks-and-mortar retailers that move online must spend $31 to gain a customer on their Web sites, she added. That leaves catalogers in a position to "think of the Web as [their] playground," Easton said.

Catalogers should pay special attention to the screen that appears on their site after a purchase has been made online, she said, adding that the space is often underutilized. That page is an ideal place to offer an affiliate link or to cross-sell and upsell.

As for e-mail, Easton said, catalogers must respond to customers' questions immediately. Auto-responders are fine when used as a placeholder, but customers also should receive a personalized e-mail response to their inquiries. Amazon.com, she noted, responds to e-mails in 34 minutes, and consumers use Amazon as a benchmark of service.

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