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We've instituted a few changes to make DM News (print publication) publication more reader-friendly. Starting next month, we'll add another feature to help you in your customer acquisition, retention and reactivation strategies by expanding the Catalog Marketing section into a full-fledged Multichannel Retail section.

Running monthly starting Sept. 25, it will focus on how marketers and retailers use combinations of the catalog, e-commerce, store or telephone channels as well as direct and interactive marketing campaigns to draw sales online or offline.

We've consistently covered multichannel retail over the years. The topic is not new to us. What is needed, though, is a dedicated spot to aggregate examples of what worked and what didn't in multichannel retail. The overall retail industry has reached a stage where one marketing or commerce vehicle alone is not enough to close a sale. The consumer needs more urging, more incentive, more choice.

We'll also include unbiased, trend-related opinion pieces from retailers and vendors on marketing, merchandising, retailing, customer experience, search, behavioral ad targeting and research - all related to cross-channel commerce and mirroring our reporting. But direct and interactive has to play a key role in the process, as the channels do when consumers make shopping decisions.

The timing couldn't be better for sales influenced by direct and interactive marketing. Catalogs continue to drive e-commerce and store transactions. That said, more sales undoubtedly are migrating online from the catalog and the store. Shop.org and Forrester Research estimate e-commerce sales this year will grow 20 percent to $211.4 billion. People are shopping for categories that previously were thought unsuitable for online, such as fragrance, cosmetics, furniture, perishables and pet supplies.

At the same time, more consumers are flipping through a catalog, opening mail or e-mail, browsing or searching online, visiting the store and then returning to place the order on the retailer's site or via a toll-free catalog number. More channels mean more opportunities for consideration before a purchase. Retailers have to present a common face and consistent customer experience across all channels. It also means that the retail channels have to complement and attract a picky, not-so-loyal consumer without the old fear: cannibalization.

Please reach out to senior editor Chantal Todé (chantal@dmnews.com) with story ideas where the catalog and the store play a major role in

the multichannel retail experience. Associate editor Dianna Dilworth (dianna@dmnews.com) is your contact where e-commerce and other interactive channels are the starting point.

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