Guide illuminates spectrum of multichannel retail issues

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Multichannel retail is the topic of DM News' latest Essential Guide, enclosed with this week's issue. This publication has long covered retail, particularly catalogs, e-commerce, mail, direct response television and telemarketing, from a multichannel perspective. But we thought it was time to produce a special compendium of articles from industry experts on how to mesh online and offline retail channels to acquire and retain customers.

As many of our readers have discovered, multichannel retail is easier said than done. The challenges to make all channels work in harmony and appear identical to the consumer are many. Bigger corporations and even small businesses have to overhaul legacy systems where the retail store did not speak to the catalog or the e-commerce site. Some players lack the budgets to upgrade to the software they need. Others are weak in managing inventory across channels. And some are unused to fulfilling orders captured by telephone or online. Add to that merchandising, branding and database mining and marketing issues.

This guide should offer tips to alleviate some of those concerns. Topics include marketing technology, the influence of one channel over the other, driving cross-channel traffic with loyalty programs, the case for catalogs and e-commerce, customer experience, database marketing, DRTV's compatibility with retail, addressability and online and offline marketing.

Also in the book are case studies as well as pointers on how to synchronize storefront and fulfillment experiences to boost e-commerce sales, direct marketing's ties to mobile, going beyond Web page design, creating online malls, guiding visitors across channels with landing pages, product customization and in-store visualization, holiday 2006 trends and multichannel integration.

The contributors work in organizations like Harte-Hanks, Acxiom, QAS, Allurent, Millard Group, J. Schmid & Assoc., Gomez, Loyalty Lab, the U.S. Postal Service, Vontoo, Dydacomp, Resource Interactive, eStara, SendTec, Marketsmith, Experian, eROI, Yahoo Search Marketing, Unica, Vcommerce, AvantGo, ShopAtHome.com, SiteSpec, Fry, Oneupweb and CommercialWare. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you some idea of the intelligence packed within DM News' Essential Guide to Multichannel Retail. These are companies you work with to address your multichannel retail issues and opportunities.

Besides the print edition, the guide is available at www.dmnews.com as a PDF document. Articles also will run separately on the site. Senior editor Chantal Todé and associate editor Dianna Dilworth, along with deputy editor Melissa Campanelli and art director Gina Capone, worked hard to produce this guide. It is worth reading and sharing in any channel you like.

The owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently went a step further and succumbed to Wall Street pressure by selling the newspaper to a private equity group. The Knight Ridder Group, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald, also reacted to shareholder unhappiness and sold itself to McClatchy. Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, reportedly received a buyout offer from its largest shareholder, the Chandler family trusts. It should consider the offer.

Even those who thought they could turn around stellar brands now realize there's no magic bullet. A public relations executive who led the buyout from McClatchy of the Philadelphia Inquirer realized this at his peril. No surprise that he's cut positions on the newspaper. This should be a lesson for those billionaires seeking the new vanity plate: a hometown newspaper.

Newspaper and magazine brands - consumer and business - have to reorient their publishing focus to the Web. They have to staff up to meet online publishing requirements. They have to turn their paper brands into media vehicles that offer analysis of news and events likely to affect consumers and businesses today and tomorrow. They have to charge more for online advertising, and that requires standing up to advertisers. Publishers, more or less, have lost the battle to charge for content online. Hence the need for an online advertising rate card with spine. They have to turn their Web site editions into the flagship: NYTimes.com versus The New York Times broadsheet, for example.

It's not that people are reading less. They've just shifted to a more interactive medium. The future of the knowledge economy - America's edge over other countries - is at stake if publishers and advertisers fail to read the consumers.

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