RedEnvelope CEO Stresses Need for Multichannel Presence

BOSTON — A multichannel presence is vital to catalogers and retailers, according to an executive whose company started as a Web-only concern.

“The hot topic of this conference is multichannel marketing,” said Martin McClanan, CEO of gift Web site and cataloger RedEnvelope, San Francisco, in his luncheon keynote here at the Direct Marketing Association's 18th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition at the Hynes Convention Center.

After starting as an Internet-only retailer in November 1999, RedEnvelope launched its print catalog in February 2000, McClanan said.

He gave tips about how RedEnvelope has gotten most of its customers to order online. RedEnvelope does not include an order form in its catalog; rather, it includes its URL,, on each page. About 70 percent of RedEnvelope's orders are generated on the Web site while 30 percent come in over the telephone, McClanan said.

Even so, he stressed that 73 percent of direct response shoppers are influenced by a merchant's offline presence, making it important to have a multichannel presence.

McClanan also noted that when it comes to customer service, the telephone still rules. Fifty-seven percent of RedEnvelope customers choose the telephone to resolve customer service issues, while 14 percent use e-mail and 29 percent use the chat function on the RedEnvelope Web site.

McClanan discussed the importance of e-mail for marketers. He said it would become even more challenging for marketers get their customers to open e-mails as more firms use e-mail communications. One way that RedEnvelope has tried to use e-mail effectively is through limited and selective partnerships with other marketers. It has partnered with J. Crew, Nordstrom and Garnet Hill.

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