DMA: Catalogers embrace integration

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More than half of multichannel merchants within the catalog industry have fully integrated their marketing and advertising, product selection, pricing, fulfillment, and shipping and handling policies, according to a new report from the Direct Marketing Association.

The Multichannel Marketing in the Catalog Industry is based on surveys completed online by 474 catalog marketers. It also indicates that nearly 70 percent of respondents saw an increase in multichannel sales over the prior year and 59 percent increased their catalog circulation in 2005.

"We found a prevailing belief among large, successful catalog retailers that fully integrating its customer-facing functions is just smart business," said Anna Chernis, senior research manager, DMA, in a statement. "This view is a major departure from earlier thinking, in which companies thought the Internet channel would require different pricing, promotions and other approaches than the other channels," she continued.

However, multichannel marketers have learned that consumers expect to interact with one company with integrated systems that are consistent across all channels.

Among the study's key findings are:

  • Of the respondents with mail-order catalogs, 44 percent of total sales were consummated via the Web, up from 39 percent in 2005.
  • 33 percent of respondents believe that their online sales were "incremental."
  • Respondents whose online sales are increasing reported an overall 20 percent growth rate.
  • The Web site/e-catalog was the primary marketing channel for 45 percent of respondents, followed by the paper catalog with 33 percent of responses and retailer stores with 22 percent.
  • In 2007, 82 percent of respondents plan to employ e-mail promotions, which was followed by discounts/special sales with 67 percent of responses, coupons with 38 percent and prize/sweepstakes promotions with 33 percent.
  • Free shipping offers are in this year's plans for 42 percent of respondents.

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