Rug Catalogs Won't Lie Flat

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There's been a bump in the number of Internet rug retailers starting catalogs, with Buy Rugs Direct recently announcing it will mail its first entry at the end of March and RugsUSA having published its first book this month. They follow Rugs Direct, which launched a catalog in March 2004.


Buy Rugs Direct, Sudbury, MA, has a unique mailing strategy for its catalog that doesn't include sending it to any prospects. It begins mailing postcards the week of Feb. 12 to target markets, promoting the late-March catalog launch and letting recipients know they can sign up to receive it at the company's Web site, www.buyrugsdirect.com.


The first round of 85,000 6-by-9-inch coated, full-color postcards goes to markets in eastern Massachusetts, lower New York and Florida. Homeowners who are likely to do their own home décor are targeted.


"Two of our strongest markets are in Westchester [County], New York, and Boca Raton, Florida," said Melissa Federico, Buy Rugs Direct director of creative marketing.


At least four other mailings of 85,000 postcards each to key cities in the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast will follow.


Each market will get a second postcard from Buy Rugs Direct as part of a postcard deck from RSVP, which is handling the direct mail campaign for the company. The theme of the postcards is "When you want the most, be direct," Federico said. This refers to the company's positioning as the direct rug merchant that is the most knowledgeable, has the most responsive customer service and offers the most value for the money, she said.


The postcards aim to get as many opt-in names as possible for the catalog. Buy Rugs Direct hopes to have 100,000 names for the first catalog mailing. The company also has been collecting names and addresses on its Web site.


"We've been getting a good response from the catalog simply being featured on our Web site," Federico said.


Because the company has done little print advertising, new customers have used search engines to find Buy Rugs Direct, Federico said.


"We were hearing from customers that they like to shop from catalogs and order from them over the long term, so we decided to utilize catalogs as another way to reach out to customers," she said.


The premiere issue will have 24 to 28 pages and will feature a selection of the many rugs available on the Web site, including styles such as country, contemporary, classic, casual and formal, as well as an expensive children's line. Buy Rugs Direct carries merchandise from major rug suppliers and manufacturers as well as a lot of specialty suppliers. Prices range from under $100 to more than $1,000 per rug. The catalog also will feature design tips from several interior designers who order from Buy Rugs Direct.


While the catalog will direct recipients to the Web site to view a larger selection, they will be able to order via a toll-free telephone number as well as online.


RugsUSA mailed a 48-page catalog to 500,000 names this month, company president Koorosh Yaraghi said. Two more catalogs will be sent to a similar mailing size in September and just before the holidays.


"We've traditionally been an online business, but we've exhausted driving traffic online … we're everywhere in keyword buys," Yaraghi said. "That's why we decided to launch a catalog. I expect it to work more as an advertising piece. Our main goal is to drive customers to the Web site since we expect the majority of orders will be online."


Names came from RugsUSA's buyers as well as people who requested the catalog at the Web site. The company also rented names from 20 lists of home décor catalogs and home decorating magazines.


The catalog features 580 traditional, contemporary, whimsical and casual rug designs, but that's a small number of the 40,000 SKUs that are on RugsUSA's Web site. The New York-based company positions itself as an area rug superstore for niche rugs in unique, hard-to-find styles at low prices.


The premiere issue features a 10 percent-off promotion on the cover for anyone who shops from the catalog before April 16. It also offers free shipping on all items.


So far, February sales are ahead of last year, Yaraghi said, attributing the increase to the catalog.


"Many people are using the source code and the coupon that's in there," he said. "We're very happy with it. Next time we hope to offer more customized products in the catalog."


Yaraghi also said he expects to improve the paper quality for the next two books, though the design will be the same.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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