USPS Catalog Forwarding Service Gains Ground

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An offering from the U.S. Postal Service that lets consumers request to have current and new catalogs forwarded to them after they move has drawn a response rate of 25 percent since it launched Sept. 17, the agency said yesterday.


The free Catalog Request Card service allows consumers to inform their favorite catalog retailers of their new address and sign up to have new catalogs sent to that address. It helps the USPS direct catalogs to the moving public, letting retailers stay connected with current customers and obtain new customers.


The USPS handles 30 million catalog mailings yearly.


The service is an expansion of the agency's official Internet Change of Address form that consumers use to have their mail forwarded. It is available through MoversGuide Online at www.usps.com. The service also became available Oct. 15 in the printed Mover's Guide found in post offices.


Here's how the program works: After customers complete the Internet Change of Address form or the hard-copy Catalog Request Card in the Mover's Guide, they may select specific catalogs -- currently received or new -- or choose "No Thanks."


Currently, 25 retailers participate, including Coldwater Creek, HP Shopping, Lands' End, Plow & Hearth, Pottery Barn, The Sharper Image, Smith + Noble and Spiegel.


Unlike First-Class mail and Periodicals, catalogs and Standard mail are not forwarded to customers when they move.


"That's why we're providing this service," said Charlie Bravo, USPS senior vice president for intelligent mail and address quality, "so that people can have their favorite catalogs on hand when they're needed most, to organize their homes quickly and easily when it's convenient for them."


In the first month of the program, the USPS said, nearly 113,000 people requested more than 650,000 catalogs. They are choosing to receive an average of six retail catalogs after they move, and they not only want to keep receiving their current catalogs, but also are requesting an average of four new catalogs.


The program is also important, Bravo said, because consumers tend to spend money on goods such as furniture, appliances and home improvement products shortly after they move into a new home. And because catalogs are a popular vehicle through which to buy these goods, having them in-home in this time helps consumers and catalogers. Imagitas, the postal service's partner in this program, said consumers spend an average of $7,100 on relocation-related goods in the weeks after a move.


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.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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