Catalog Has RoosterGear Crowing

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Online retailer's first catalog drop in July has not only opened up an offline sales channel for the company, but it also has given online orders a boost.

The average order size online for the retailer -- which sells men's clothing, shoes and jewelry -- has nearly doubled from $75 to $140 since the catalog mailed, and the average offline order size from catalog recipients has been $120.

"The relationship of orders generated by the catalog through the Internet was much greater than I anticipated," said Cheryl Hudson, RoosterGear's founder/CEO. "Even though these people asked to receive the catalog, they ordered online."

While the spike in online sales may have surprised Hudson, she is a longtime believer in catalogs.

"I've been in the business for 30 years, and I know the best way to drive traffic is through the presence of a catalog," Hudson said. "Of all the print avenues, a catalog is the best vehicle."

As Chuck Hudson, he worked with companies including Fingerhut, Arizona Mail Order and Brawn of California. In December, Hudson underwent gender reassignment surgery and changed her first name to Cheryl., San Diego, launched online in April 2000 and has received nearly 10,000 requests for catalogs, Hudson said.

The drop last month went to 50,000 names from RoosterGear's house file and rented lists. The retailer targets college-educated men age 25 to 35 with active lifestyles. The company plans two more mailings totaling 500,000 catalogs this year.

Last month's digest-size catalog had 32 pages and was designed inhouse. Hudson would not comment on the cost to produce it.

The book contained more than 90 items in four categories: Cool Casual, Club, Just for Fun and Swim. Prices ranged from $9.99 for a RoosterGear "Rebel" Tank to $120 for a weave nylon mesh vest.

The cover displayed models dressed in clothing from each category. The top of each left-hand page had a border designed to resemble the Web site.

"The idea behind the catalog was not really to have a catalog, but to have an offline edition of the site," Hudson said. "The catalog was designed to look exactly like the Web site. Anyone looking at the catalog, once they log on, [knows] what to expect and how to navigate the site.

"Most catalogs [that] have a Web site, the catalog looks different than the online component. It's a different brand presentation," she said. "We wanted the brand to be the same, whether in print or online."

The Web site carries more than 350 items and additional categories -- including business casual, shoes and jewelry -- not found in the catalog.


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